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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Three Days in the Interlake

Looking through my window at the still-snowy, still-wintry Winnipeg streetscape, I have to remind myself that spring is not far away. Soon the snow will leave and we will again be able to begin one of the most pleasurable of the Museum’s activities: fieldwork. Last year, between various other projects, I worked with Bob Elias (University of Manitoba) and Ed Dobrzanski on gathering information that we could use in a field guidebook for this spring’s Winnipeg GAC-MAC meeting (Geological Association of Canada – Mineralogical Association of Canada). Most of the sites we planned to include in the guidebook were well known to us, but there was one glaring absence: Bob…

Posted in Geology & Paleontology, News, Research | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

A Once Sticky Situation

When performing inventory and maintenance in the museum galleries, the collections and conservation staff sometimes discover things which are questionable museum practices. This month while working in The Sod House exhibit, we discovered some artefacts had a substance resembling adhesive on the bottom of them. After discussions with senior staff it was found that in the 1970s when the exhibit had originally been an open exhibit, not enclosed behind a Plexiglas door, artefacts were glued to surfaces to prevent them from being stolen. Obviously, this was an act executed long ago, possibly by a non-collections staff member, as we are all now aware this is not an appropriate method for…

Posted in Collections & Conservation, Conservation | Comments closed

People find the darndest things – first confirmed barn owl for Manitoba this Century

When thinking of Manitoba’s owls, the great gray (our provincial bird) is usually the first to come to mind, whereas of the 12 species recorded for the province, the barn owl (Tyto alba) would likely be the last. Although barn owls have one of the widest ranges of any owl species, occurring in temperate and tropical regions around the world, they are very rare anywhere in Canada, and especially so on the prairies. They just don’t do very well in our climate; -35°C is hardly tropical or even temperate! There are only about a dozen records for barn owl in Manitoba since the first was found in November of 1912, and…

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Comet PANSTARRS becomes visible in Manitoba Skies!

Beginning March 7th, Comet PANSTARRS will become visible in the evening sky for observers in Manitoba. This is a cool chance to see a comet, those mysterious visitors from the ragged edge of the solar system that occasionally grace our skies. But, you’ll need a pair of binoculars (and clear skies) for the best view. What is Comet PANSTARRS? It’s a small chunk of ice only a few kilometers in diameter that is in a long, oval-shaped orbit around the sun. Most of the time it is totally invisible, but right now it is swinging close past the sun. The sun’s heat vaporizes some of the ice, and the solar wind blows the dust and gas back into a tail which…

Posted in Astronomy, Planetarium, Science Gallery & Planetarium, Space News | Comments closed

The clam that sank a thousand ships

  Unless you happen to be chowing down on some steamed clams at the time, a discussion of important influences on human history is unlikely to include a clam as part of the conversation.  But the eating habits of one small group of highly evolved clams has altered the travel plans of Christopher Columbus and Sir Francis Drake, changed the outcome of naval battles, and has inspired folklore and poetry. Clams are members of the Bivalvia, a relatively diverse subgroup of molluscs that includes about 10,000 living species of oysters, mussels, scallops and any of the typical “seashells” we are used to finding washed up on beaches,  whether on fresh-…

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A glass cane and a search for family

This last weekend The Manitoba Museum had a very special guest. Joseph Winzoski arrived on Saturday afternoon with family and friends to have a look at a special artefact his grandfather had made back in about 1910. Joseph’s grandfather, Juszef Wiazowski, was a master glass blower at the Manitoba Glass Works in Beausejour, and created this glass cane there. Referred to sometimes as “whimsies”, these kinds of decorative pieces could be made as gifts or for sale.  Juszef was recruited in Poland by Josef Albert Keilbach to help start up the factory work in 1906. Joseph Winsozki’s granddaughter has provided the museum with some of her detailed research of the family history:…

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From Acquisition to Exhibit – One Artefact’s Journey

When the Museum receives an artefact or specimen, very often the donor asks or expects that the new acquisition will be put immediately on display. This, more than 90% of the time, is NOT the case. The reasons are various, but mostly it comes down to scarce resources – of staff, time and money. It takes resources to process the new donation; it takes resources to prepare it for exhibit; it takes resources to plan and develop the exhibit. Having said all that, here is the tale of one object which went from initial acquisition to permanent display in less than a year. The artefact is a horse watering trough,…

Posted in Collections & Conservation, Collections Management, Conservation | Comments closed