Last week, in our lab and in the small layout room next door, we were juggling specimens for two Earth History Gallery exhibits. We are developing a timeline that will lead the visitor from the formation of the Earth (4.5 billion years ago) right up to the Ordovician Period of our Ancient Seas exhibit (about 450 million years ago). This timeline will feature quite a number of unusual geological specimens and reconstructions, each of which will be placed in a little case. So there was a group meeting of the people involved: the designer, collections staff, conservators, and me. We contemplated each specimen, as I lifted them in turn to show how they should be oriented and placed. In the course of an hour or so, we contemplated a piece of the oldest rock in the world, a banded iron formed on an early seafloor, some beautiful Cambrian sponges, and many other pieces. I can hardly wait to see these installed in the exhibit, but that is still a couple of months off. We are continuing to work together on the “look” of the exhibit; more of that in my next post.
Meanwhile, the final specimens for our Ancient Seas exhibit were being “staged,” along with their mounts, prior to being moved downstairs for final installation in the Earth History Gallery. The main part of this exhibit was opened early in the spring, but some of the specimen installation and lighting were delayed until now because mount-making and light installation are very laborious tasks and cannot be rushed.
At the end of last week and start of this week, we placed specimens into special “windows” that had been cut into the boxes of the Ancient Seas info rail, so that the visitors will be able to see at least one fossil for every kind of creature depicted in the video animation. As the job is complicated, we were only able to install a couple of specimens each day.