Click the title above for a fascinating viewpoint regarding the Lascaux Cave paintings (c. 15,000 BCE), which were found in the Dordogne region, southwestern France, in 1940. Many of the paintings seem to represent the animals in various stages of movement, the video linked above demonstrates how they may have been intended to be shown in a state of animation.
This past summer I was lucky enough to visit the travelling exhibit “Lascaux III” at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. This travelling exhibit features the incredibly realistic replica of portions of the caves. The Lascaux caves themselves have been off-limits to tourists since the 1980s (to ensure their preservation) and these replicas are the closest most of us are going to come to seeing the caves for ourselves. They are certainly a pretty good substitute, and the exhibit itself is wonderfully interactive and engaging.
Lascaux III is currently at The Houston Museum of Natural Science until March 23, 2014. It will then be hosted by Le Centre des Sciences in Montréal, Québec from April 19 to September 15, 2014. Lascaux II, the permanent exhibit near the original caves, features similar replicas and can still be visited as well. If you are in any of these areas, I highly recommend visiting.
Happy Valentine’s Day or Lupercalia (Or whatever you would like to call it)
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. This seemingly random holiday has it roots in a very old Roman (probably even pre-Roman) holiday called Lupercalia, which was a festival centering around fertility and took place over the ides of February, (13th -15th). It consisted mainly of sacrifices (specifically two goats and a dog) followed by naked men running around hitting women with pieces of the sacrificed animals – which the women lined up for (being hit with the sacrificial animals was supposed to promote fertility and ease childbirth). Definitely a strange holiday.
Now I don’t know if I have found 100 uses for foam board (which I have always called foam core), but I am confident that I could. I have found a lot of non-standard uses for the relatively cheap museum (small to medium sized museums anyway) staple. Traditionally these boards are used for mounting images and labels for an exhibit.
The title for this blog comes from a comment a former Boss of mine made about five years ago. I was working up in the north of Ontario and developing exhibits on a petty cash budget. What I did have was a good supply of foam board. Therefore, whenever I needed something I did not have and couldn’t buy cheaply (or locally); I would make it out of foam board. I made brochure holders, small display stands, and I even made a book strut once. One of the easiest and most effective uses I found is what I call a flipbook.
These flipbooks, which are similar to the poster racks you can flip through in stores, came about due to a need to display more material than I had space for. And also as a way to solve the problem of a flat 1-dimensional exhibit space. I was working with a traveling exhibit, the kind that consists primarily of images, and a few panels. Great content, but very flat in an exhibit space. I also had lots of great photos. These flipbooks became a way of adding some dimension and interactivity without spending a lot of money.
Two foamboards (any size, as long as they are the same)
Use any colour you like, white is cheapest, but black is great. You can use coloured foam board as well, to add a splash of colour to an exhibit space).
Step 1: Measure the exact centre of each board and draw a pencil line (this will be the back, so don’t worry about the pencil). Orient the boards either way you want.
Step 2: Using the ruler as a straight edge, carefully cut along your pencil line with the box cutter on each board. Being very careful only to go through the top layer of paper and about half-way into the central foam (you don’t want four pieces).
Step 3: Carefully snap the remaining portion of the foam core of each board. You now have two foam boards that fold in the centre but are held together very nicely with the remaining side. (optional step: you may want to reinforce the seam with some form of tape if your books will see a lot of wear).
Step 4: Adhere your photographs, labels, etc. to your boards as you normally would, paying attention to how they will eventually be displayed on the wall. (Remember you will have both the front and back of the free-hanging sides.
Step 5: To mount the flip books you will need a partner. Place the left-hand side of the left board against the wall in the correct position. Then hammer (or gently tap) a finishing nail into each corner – this takes practice, you don’t want to hit the foam board with your hammer – It will dent!
Step 6: Square the right side of the book up against the left and repeat step 5.
And you’re done!
If you have a Budget Museum Hack of your own, let me know! I would welcome guest blogs in this series 🙂
Gertrude Bell set up the Baghdad Museum in Iraq (then Mesopotamia) and was single-handedly responsible for drafting legislation that would keep Mesopotamian artefacts in the country – at a time when artefacts were whisked away to the West faster than the soil they came from could settle.
If you don’t know who Gertrude Bell is, please read more about this incredible female archaeologist from the early 20th century. She became known as the Queen of the Desert, and was immensely influential in the development of not only archaeology in the Middle East (she was fundamental in the opening of the Baghdad Museum), but also the development of the modern borders; she served as a spy during WWI and spoke many languages. She was a kick-ass woman in a time when that was pretty abnormal.
The Gertrude Bell Archive is a fully accessible online collection of her photographs, diaries and letters.
The photos are a bit difficult to search through, and the search function didn’t seem to be working when I was looking through, but they are absolutely worth perusing. Beautiful photos from the middle east c. 1900 – 1918.
Some of Gertrude Bell’s photos of places I have been to!
– Jarash (April 1900)
Jerash – the large theatre (from left of cavea looking towards stage) Oval Piazza behind theatre (Forum – ringed by colonnade of Ionic columns) and Jerash in background]
I visited Jerash in 2004 when I was in Jordan participating in my undergraduate archaeological field school. It is a fantastic Roman era city.
Petra (March 1900)
The Deir [Ed – Deir, ‘monastery’, has the largest facade in Petra – 50 metres wide, 45 metres high. Urn rests on free-standing Nabataean capital]
Same trip as Jerash, the Monastery (al-Deir) is at the top of a 45 minute climb the original Nabataean steps.
Petra (March 1900)
The Khaznet Faraoun [Khazneh Phar’oun – “Pharoah’s Treasury, the tomb of Nabataean king.
The Khaznet Faraoun at Petra, also known as the treasury, might be a bit familiar. It acted as the location of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I can’t say I found any Grails while I was there.
1) Artefacts: Handling, Preservation and Conservation
I’m first and foremost an archaeologist, and because of this I actually think a Saturday afternoon spent cataloguing and photographing an interesting archaeological collection is great fun to be had. ;P I may be unique in this.
However, there has been a lot of talk bouncing around the museum world lately about whether a museum needs a collection to be a ‘Museum.’ Whereas, I do think there are valid examples of instances where a collection isn’t necessary; I do think that the element of authenticity found in real artefacts is unbeatable.
2) Environment: The meeting of like minded people
The Best place to find other people who like museums, art, culture, history, heritage, etc. is to work at, volunteer for, or just hang around at museums!
3) Learning: Fueling our life long curiosities
I love learning new things, and it’s almost impossible to visit a museum and not learn.
4) Heritage: Housing and interpreting our collective Cultures
Museums offer visual essays of our collective cultures (Like a real life Pinterest!). Visitors can explore a cross-section of artefacts and images that illustrate the history of a place, people, or culture. (However, It is important to note that the stories told are usually those the local populations want to be told. Museums often avoid conflict and can be used as propaganda – the latter I do not like at all.)
5) Commentary: The past can illustrate the Present and inform the future
I especially enjoy exhibitions that have a good thought out and illustrated thesis. I find these kinds of exhibitions are rare, but when they are successful, they have the power to make social commentary, offer new interpretations of past cultures and events, and can help others to understand just why the past is worth knowing.