Journey Through the Manitoba Museum's History

Journey Through the Manitoba Museum’s History

The Manitoba Museum celebrated its 50th anniversary at its current Rupert Avenue location in 2020, but did you know that collecting and preserving artifacts and specimens in Manitoba started in an official capacity around 1879? That year, the Scientific and Historical Society of Manitoba was founded, with a mission to research and preserve the scientific and historic work being done in the province.

While a formal museum had yet to be created, both the Scientific and Historical Society and private collectors put on temporary exhibitions throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries at various venues and private residences throughout the province.

In 1932, the collections-specific Manitoba Museum Association, an unincorporated entity, was established and an official brick-and-mortar museum opened at the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium, which also housed a concert hall and the eventual Winnipeg Art Gallery. On December 15 of that year, its inaugural exhibit about butterflies and moths soft-launched with subsequent exhibits opening as equipment, such as glass cases, were purchased. By May 1934, 50,000 visitors from around the world had made a visit to the new Manitoba Museum.

Black and white image of multiple fish specimens mounted on boards hanging on a wall above a museum display case housing various natural history specimens.

Exhibits at the old Manitoba Museum in the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium, circa 1940s. Image: © Manitoba Museum

Black and white image of museum display cases showcasing various Indigenous artifacts, including a kayak.

Exhibits at the old Manitoba Museum in the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium, circa 1940s. Image: © Manitoba Museum

The Manitoba Museum operated with a small staff and a group of volunteers, advisors, and honorary curators. Honorary (volunteer) curators of botany, vertebrates, invertebrates, and “ethnology” were all professors from the University of Manitoba, with honorary assistants to the curators coming from both academia and the community. These roles focused on collecting specimens and artifacts, creating exhibits, and presenting lectures on relevant topics.

Black and white image of a museum display case housing various artifacts related to the fur trade.

Black and white image of a museum display case housing various Indigenous artifacts.

The History and Archaeology departments occasionally still reference the original accession ledgers that date to the inception of the museum. These ledgers detail basic information about objects acquired from the public – listed under the headings of donor (or vendor), locality, object, and particulars. The history objects were divided into four separate categories – Firearms & Military, History & Early Settlers, Ceramics, and Numismatics. The archaeological objects were accessioned into a single ledger by date. Not to worry, our conservation department has since encapsulated the individual pages for longevity’s sake.

Image of an inventory page with multiple columns listing items and their descriptions. Most of the rows have been struck through with red ink.

Sample of page from old Manitoba Museum history accession ledger. Image: © Manitoba Museum

Black and white image of a black rectangular box with closed lid.

Photograph of H8-62-207, a pewter snuff box donated to the old Manitoba Museum on March 29, 1934 by Mrs. Andrew K. Stephens, as listed on the sample ledger page. Image: © Manitoba Museum

Black and white image of a man painting a mural of a gently-hilled prairie landscape; table with various art supplies in the foreground.

In 1965, the Manitoba Museum Association was dissolved by provincial legislation in favour of the incorporation of the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature and the Manitoba Planetarium. Construction of the Museum at 190 Rupert Avenue was underway by the late 1960s, designed by Winnipeg-born architect Herbert Henry Gatenby Moody (leave some names for the rest of us, sir!). While the new facility was being constructed, the existing collections were put in storage.

The new incarnation of the Museum presented its first galleries in 1970 – just in time to commemorate Manitoba’s centennial. The iconic bison diorama greeted the first visitors and ushered them into the former Grasslands gallery. This era also saw the advent of paid curatorial positions for the first time in the Museum’s history.

Between 1970 and 1976, the Earth History, Urban (Winnipeg 1920), Nonsuch and Arctic/Subarctic galleries opened, and 1980 and 2003 saw the introduction of the Boreal Forest Gallery, HBC Gallery, Parklands/Mixed Woods Gallery, and the Science Gallery to the lower level.

Image: Manitoba-born artist Clarence Tillenius is pictured here painting the backdrop of the Pronghorn diorama in the Grasslands Gallery at 190 Rupert Avenue. Tillenius also painted the mural behind the Bison diorama in the museum’s Welcome Gallery. © Manitoba Museum

In 1997, the Museum dropped the “of Man and Nature” from its legal name and became known as the Manitoba Museum once again. Do people still occasionally ask if I work at the “Man and Nature”? Why, yes, they do.

A circular beaded coaster with red

Pictured above is a beaded coaster made by Mrs. Dinah Monias Beardy and donated to the museum in 1979. The coaster depicts the original Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature logo. Mrs. Beardy’s son is renowned artist Jackson Beardy, whose work is featured in the Boreal Forest Gallery. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H4-1-451

Cortney Pachet

Cortney Pachet

Collections Technician – Human History

Cortney Pachet started working at the Manitoba Museum in 2001 as a tour guide while earning her a BA (Honours) from the University of Winnipeg. She quickly realized that she wanted a career in museums…
Meet Cortney Pachet

Inside a Conservator’s Toolbox

The tools Conservator’s use to fix, repair, and clean objects in a Museum collection are pretty unique, in that many of these items come from different professions or have been custom-made to suit the job.  During a recent behind-the-scenes tour I was asked about the tools I had laid out in my tray, stuffed into foam to protect the sharp edges, and things that looked a bit like they came from another planet. I thought I would share some of the tools used in the Conservation lab, as a way to spark imagination and inspiration for anyone that has been stuck on a project not knowing what tool could be right for the job!

Two pairs of scissors on a white background with the left scissors having a purple handle and the right scissors having a pink handle.

Can’t touch this …

The first item that I am deeply passionate about are my purple and pink scissors.  Everyone in the lab knows that if you borrow these purple and pink scissors to make sure to return it to the tray immediately, as I am very invested in these little tools! These small delicate scissors, come from the cosmetic industry and are mostly used by estheticians.  Slightly curved, incredibly sharp, and a very fine pointed tip, these scissors work magic for repairing textiles, cutting extremely detailed molds and casts in reproductions, and any other work that needs an accurate slice.

 

Image of thirteen dental tools laid out evenly in a row. Tools are composed of stainless steel and have various tips on both ends

Say “aaaahhhhhh” …

Dental tools would be the next array of instruments that we use in the Conservation lab. Not only are dental tools good at cleaning your teeth but they are great for cleaning objects!  Caution is used however when we pick-up these strong metal tools, because they can cause damage if used on an improper object.  Dental picks and scrapers are often used on wooden objects, when there is something deep in cracks or crevices that needs to be removed.

Let’s get digital .. digital …

Diving into a different industry that Conservator’s seek tools from, would be the world of circuit boards and computer repair.  The glass bristle brush is about the size of a pen, and has a fibre glass tip that is adjustable in height depending on the work being done.  Archaeological metals, such as brass buttons or thimbles, are where these fine detailed tools work well to burnish or remove corrosion products.  A few cautions are followed when using a glass bristle brush, including wearing a respirator, safety glasses, and protecting the body with a lab coat. The fine glass bristles break off as the tool is brushed back and forth, which is why safety is of utmost importance.

Five glass bristle brush dispensers, from left to right the handles are yellow, black, blue, blue and grey with a white twist bottom used to make the brush larger. On the left of the image are five glass bristle brush replacements with a gold coloured ferrule crimping the bristles together.

Bone folders, micro spatulas, tacking irons, brass rulers, tweezers, and scalpels are a small list of names of other unique tools that we reach for most often.  It’s important that before we perform a conservation treatment on an object in the collection that we ensure the method we choose will be successful, causing no further deterioration then what has already occurred.  This means, we really have to think outside of the box, not rush into a treatment, and make sure we have the right tool (wherever that is found) for the job!

Carolyn Sirett

Carolyn Sirett

Senior Conservator

Carolyn Sirett received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba, Diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria, and Diploma in Collections Conservation and Management…
Meet Carolyn Sirett

Fixing Shattered Plants – Welcome to my World

As the Assistant Conservator at the Manitoba Museum, one of my main duties is the preservation and maintenance of all the dioramas throughout the galleries. Dioramas have a variety of challenges in their up-keep, so I constantly have to adapt and find solutions to issues that arise.  As part of my daily routine, I visually inspect each of the dioramas before the museum opens to make sure everything is in tip-top shape for visitors. 

One of the dioramas I inspect daily is The Ukrainian Farm and it is one of my favorite dioramas at the museum. It depicts a complex scene of a family working their farmland which borders the Delta Marsh. Every time I look at this diorama, I see something new and fun. The marsh area of the diorama is teeming with an unexpected diversity of wildlife species nestled amongst the reeds, soaring in the sky, or concealed under the water’s surface.  

Prairie scene with green prairie grasses growing next to a wheat field. Wall of small boulders on the left of the image.

However, during those daily inspections I often see something less exciting in the diorama – many plants suffering damage!  For example, one morning I found a poor Smilacina stellatum (more commonly known as “False Solomon’s Seal”) with several leaves broken off and scattered in the grass around it.

What many may not know is that these plants have been collected in the wild, preserved, and painted to look alive. Like all plant materials after they have been picked, the plant gets increasingly brittle over time (think of a what a bouquet of roses feels and looks like after a month of receiving them). When the plants are knocked or improperly handled, the fragile parts of the model crack, shatter, and fall off. The process of getting new plants and preparing them to replace the damaged ones takes a long time, so most often I do what I can to repair the plants that are on display. 

Right image: Surveying and inspecting the diorama’s many plant models for damage.

Plant model with green stem and leaves made of plastic sitting in a white tray lined with white foam

Quick! To the Laboratory!

First, the plant model is removed from the diorama and carefully placed in a tray to prevent further damage during transport.  

The plant is then brought up to the Conservation Lab, where I “assess the object’s state and formulate a treatment plan” which is a fancy way of saying ‘plan the best way to fix it’. As a conservator, I have to think about what materials the plant model is made of and how those materials react to different adhesives and chemicals that might be used in its repair. For example, records show that the model has been painted with acrylic paintsTherefore, it is important to avoid chemicals or adhesives in the treatment that would affect the paint layer on the plant. Acrylic paint is sensitive to acetone, so the repair methods used would include avoiding acetone or an acetone-based adhesive.

Left image: Safely placed in a tray this plant model is ready for transport up to the Conservation Lab.

Plant model sitting inside of a white container with a piece of glass on top of the container. Inside of the container the green stemmed plant model rests on a piece of blotting paper and an electronic datalogger sits beside it in the top right corner. A beaker of water is sitting on the table beside the container.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

As the plant was so brittle, it was important to try to make the leaves more pliable before I repaired them. To do this, the plant was placed into a chamber with distilled water added to the bottom to help raise the humidity and left inside the chamber for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the dry plant material did pull some of the moisture from the surrounding air which allowed the leaf structure to bend a little. This movement allowed the broken leaves to line-up better during my repairs.

While waiting for the plant material to become easier to work with, I mixed acrylic paints to match the colour on the front and back of the leaves. Mending paper was then tinted with the mixed paint.

Right image: The humidity rises in the chamber and is pulled in by the dry plant material.

Plant Repair

The next day the plant was removed from the humidity chamber and work began on repairing the leavesTo start, small strips of the tinted mending paper were cut and attached to the broken leaves with a conservation grade adhesive. This required paying attention to the natural curves of the leaf so that the leaf wasn’t forced into an unnatural shape. I then aligned the leaf back into position against the broken edge and the two pieces were attached together. Another small piece of paper was then placed on the bottom of the leaf to secure it into position. The mended leaf was secured in place with thin florist wire as a support and left to dry overnight. 

Pair of small pink scissors sitting on a piece of white paper. A green plastic plant leaf is sitting below the scissors, with small pieces of tinted paper to the left.

1. Cutting the tinted mending paper.

Two fingers are holding a small piece of a green plastic plant on the left, while a paint brush with white blue applies the adhesive to the end of the plant.

2. Applying adhesive to the edge of the leaf.

Left hand holding a green leaf.

3. Uniting the two sections of leaf together.

Plant model with green leaves sticking out from either side of a green stem. Plant model is sitting in a piece of white foam to hold upright.

4. Repaired plant model after conservation treatment.

Time to Grow Again

The next morning the supporting florist wire was removed, and repairs were checked from the previous day. Everything seemed to be in stable condition, so the plant was placed back into a tray, brought down to the diorama, and finding the exact position the plant had been previously, I essentially “planted” it back into the diorama.

Maintaining the dioramas is full of complex tasks like the one I’ve outlined here.  I hope this blog sheds some light on one of the more complex aspects of diorama maintenance.  

Fingers crossed this little plant model survives the coming years! 

Man wearing a grey coloured baseball hat and a grey plaid short holding a box with a green coloured plant model inside of the white box. His hands are resting on a black coloured table. Background has a washer and dryer to the left of the man and four windows are visible behind him.

Assistant Conservator Loren Rudisuela holding the repaired plant model. 

Prairie grasses in a diorama scene. Boulders in the left side flanking the grassland.

Plant model installed back into the diorama. 

Loren Rudisuela

Loren Rudisuela

Assistant Conservator

Loren Rudisuela holds a B.A in Art History from the University of Guelph, a certificate in Art Fundamentals from Sheridan College, and a Graduate Certificate in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management…
Meet Loren Rudisuela

How Do You Store Your Bison Head?

A common human trait is to obtain and store our belongings. And, maybe without even thinking, storing them in a relational way that makes sense to us, such as in a sock drawer, or stored together in some logical manner for use, like tools in a toolbox. At the very least, items are stored in a place where we know we can find them when we need them.

Museums around the world, including here at the Manitoba Museum, have much the same approach when storing their collections. There are over 300,000 specimens in the permanent collections of the Natural Sciences section, of all different types, shapes, and sizes, and they all need to be stored in a systematic way so that we can find them when they are required for research, education, or exhibits.

Lichen specimens stored in individual trays, with labels bearing their catalogue number, identification and data.

Lichen specimens are stored in individual trays, and have labels with their catalogue number, identification and data.

Two images. Left: An open drawer containing pinned beetles stored in interior boxes. Right: A microscope slide with 60 micro fossils adhered to the surface placed beside a dime for scale.

In scientific collections, we store specimens of the same species together, and then numerically by their catalogue number. This way, a single particular specimen can be easily located. This is the system that is used most commonly for museum collections including insects, mammals, birds, fossils and plants. Other collections, such as minerals, are stored by their chemical groupings. There are also some specialized research collections that are stored together as an assemblage of different species that were all collected from the same site. This system makes it easier for researchers who want to view and compare all specimens from a particular location. For example, all fossils from a Churchill shoreline, or insects that were pollinating a particular field.

Within each collection, the sizes and storage requirements of the different species vary considerably. They are not all the same size, shape, weight, or fragility level, and we need to be able to provide safe storage solutions in our collections areas for specimens that range from microscopic to very large. For example, paleontological micro-fossils, such as tiny shells or bits of coral, are extremely small (sometimes smaller than 1 mm), and too fragile to even handle individually. In order to keep them safe, but also available for study, they are gently adhered to a special type of microscope slide so that they can be safely handled, and then stored.

Images above: Left – Pinned beetles of the Carabidae Family are stored in special drawers with other specimens of the same species, separated by interior boxes. Right – Micro-fossil shells are adhered to special slides with numbered sections in order to distinguish them.

Another type of specimen that we had to devise a storage method for were fungal spore prints. Spores are the tiny microscopic structures that fungi disperse for reproduction and are thus similar in function to plant seeds. The spores are produced on the underside of the spongy or gilled mushroom cap. To assist with identifying the species of mushroom, we collect these spores, and then carefully store them. A spore print is made when mushroom is freshly collected. A piece of black paper is placed under the cap to catch the spores that will be released. The resulting print basically looks like dust in the shape of the mushroom cap. What gives us the information we need to identify them is the colour of the spores – these can be white, cream-coloured, rusty, black or brown. We have found that we can store these fragile paper prints similar to photographs. We place them in plastic CD cases, using photo mounting corners to hold the paper flat; the disk lid closes to protect the print surface from being disturbed.

A white fungal spore placed on a square of black paper inside a CD case.

These cream-coloured spores help scientists identify the species of mushroom that they came from.

Taxidermied head of a Bison stored on a custom-wheeled dolly.

Odd-shaped or very large specimens pose a storage challenge on a whole different level, so we must make special considerations for them. Large mammal mounts, for example, are not easy to store. They are large, heavy, take up a lot of room, and can be fragile too! To add to that list of concern parameters, they can also contain arsenic, which was an effective pesticide used by taxidermists prior to the 1980’s, but is toxic to both pests and humans. We have started to test our collections so we can take the necessary precautions when handling and storing them. Smaller mounts, such as song birds, can be stored in metal cabinets. But larger mounts are a little more difficult, and we have had to develop alternate methods of storing them.

Many of our larger mammal mounts are placed on custom-built wheeled platforms so that they are off the ground, and can be moved if needed. In some cases, we added a wooden framework around the mount so that we can enclose it in poly sheeting, as a barrier for pests and dust. The framework keeps the poly from coming into contact with the fur or feathers of the specimens as it could bend, break, or flatten the structures.

Above: Taxidermied head of a Bison stored on a custom-wheeled dolly for easy transportation. It will be enclosed in protective poly sheeting for storage.

Large mammal skulls, like caribou and elk, can have enormous antlers, and certainly pose another storage challenge. We have adopted a simple and effective storage solution using heavy-duty custom metal frames that are locally fabricated. The frames are spanned with expanded metal centers, and installed where we have open wall space. The large skulls can then be secured and hung on the frame. We are fortunate in that we have large areas of open wall space!

Our next storage challenge is how to store a 25 ft. long whale jaw that weighs 200 lbs!

A Museum staff member kneeling on the ground attaching cable to a large pair of antlers.

Strong aircraft cable is used to hang these large skulls with antlers.

A Museum staff member stands on a rolling ladder platform facing the camera beside seven taxidermied skulls fixed on the wall

Collections Technician, Aro, installing the skulls onto our new metal storage rack.

Janis Klapecki

Janis Klapecki

Collections Management Specialist – Natural History

Janis Klapecki obtained a B.Sc. from the University of Manitoba, specializing in Zoology and Botany. She also holds a certificate in Managing Natural History Collections from the University of Victoria, BC. Janis has over 30 years experience…
Meet Janis Klapecki

Strange History

Our human history collection is full of special objects, highlighting significant points in Manitoba’s past –like Cuthbert Grant’s medicine chest or the replica of the Nonsuch. Yet we also make a point of collecting objects that represent everyday life in Manitoba – cans of soup, well-loved toys and farming implements. These mundane objects surprise people, since most of us consider objects we use routinely to have little historical value. Then there are objects that baffle even the seasoned museologist, begging questions like what and, most importantly, why?

Early in my days working with the human history collection, I was searching for a medical-related artifact in an area of our storage room rife with old medicine and surgical tools. I pulled an unlabeled box off a high shelf to have a look inside and was shocked to find it full of dentures –it gave me quite a start. I wish I could say it was the only time that box of dentures had scared me.

Only one pair of our dentures can be linked to a specific person; the others were donated by the Manitoba Dental Association or have no known source. So if they don’t belong to a historical figure, why collect them? Dentures have been made of various materials for centuries. Wood, human and animal teeth, ivory, bone, and porcelain have all been used to fashion false teeth throughout history. Modern dentures are made from synthetic materials like acrylic. The dentures in our collection capture techniques and materials at a specific moment in time, allowing researchers to make comparisons to older and newer generations of false teeth.

Close-up on the face of an inflatable doll with yellow hair, blue eye shadow, and an open mouth.

A few years ago, some of our staff took part in an AMA on Reddit during Ask a Curator day (#AskACurator). One of the questions asked was “what is the weirdest object in your collection?” I immediately thought of an inflatable doll, which made her way into our collection in 1984 as part of a much larger donation from the old Winnipeg Musical Supply store. The doll is in excellent condition, meaning that she has never been used. And no, she doesn’t inflate – we’ve tried. Her face is coming away from her body, creating a hole where air can escape. This object is close to my heart because when I was in university, doing my Masters in Museum Studies, I wrote a paper about collecting sexual artifacts and discussed the inclusion of the doll in the collection and staff’s reactions to her presence. It’s highly unlikely that “Dolly” will ever be exhibited and her provenance isn’t clear, but she definitely captures a period of time when novelty and gag gifts were popular.

Inflatable doll; vinyl; L 20th C. Catalogue Number: H9-16-182 © Manitoba Museum

The previous artifacts are odd, true, but everyone knows that teeth are needed for chewing and enunciating and everyone loves a good laugh, but this artifact can turn stomachs and bewilder minds better than no other.

During the Victorian era, the popularity of jewellery made of human hair saw a definite rise. Hair would be collected from a loved one and woven into intricate patterns to make bracelets, brooches, earrings and necklaces. Wearing mourning jewellery fabricated from the hair of deceased relatives was common amongst Victorian women. People also made wreaths from human hair to display on their walls, often taking hair from multiple family members to complete a single wreath.

A haighly decorative wreath woven of varying shades of brown and blonde human hair, with occasional accent beads.

Hair wreath, human hair, L 19th C. Catalogue Number: H9-18-67 © Manitoba Museum

Close up on a portion of a highly decorative wreath woven of varying shades of brown and blonde human hair, with occasional accent beads.

Hair wreath, detail. Catalogue Number: H9-18-67 © Manitoba Museum

This example was made in Ontario by Mary Jane McKague and brought to Manitoba in 1881, first to Emerson by train and then transported by ox cart to the community of Coulter south of Melita where Mary Jane and her husband John homesteaded. Mary Jane died in childbirth delivering her sixth and final child in 1895. Her wreath was carefully kept by her eldest daughter and later three of her granddaughters before they donated it to the Manitoba Museum in 1985. It is one of several examples of Victorian hair art and jewellery in our collection. Even if the thought of handling human hair is unsettling, these objects are an important part of our understanding of 19th century society, fashion and the Victorian mourning process.

What commonplace objects that we think nothing of today will give pause to museum collectors of the future? Only time will tell!

Cortney Pachet

Cortney Pachet

Collections Technician – Human History

Cortney Pachet started working at the Manitoba Museum in 2001 as a tour guide while earning her a BA (Honours) from the University of Winnipeg. She quickly realized that she wanted a career in museums…
Meet Cortney Pachet

The Rogues’ Gallery of the Manitoba Museum 

Looking down into a drawer containing boxes and tubes of bugs and insects with appropriate labels.

My first day at the Manitoba Museum began with a guided behind-the-scenes tour through the research labs, workshops, and collections storage rooms that are not accessible to the public. On a tight schedule, I got to see a little bit of everything, but when the tour was over I knew I needed to see so much more. Through the next week I found the time to explore the specimens of the Natural History collections room, starting with my favourite group of animals – the insects! The Museum’s insect collection contains fascinating specimens from Manitoba and beyond, sorted neatly by species into glass-topped wooden drawers which are stored in tall, sealed cabinets. In the course of my thorough investigation, I found amazing wasps, rugged beetles, and showstopping butterflies. Nothing, however, captured my imagination quite like the contents of one otherwise unassuming box simply marked “Museum Pests”. 

 

As the label suggested, inside I found a collection of insects that are known to be destructive to museum collections. Capable of eating textiles, paper products, dried plants, and furs, these little insects can be a huge problem if allowed to reproduce in the museum. The specimens were old, their data labels yellowed with age, collected between the ‘70s and the ‘90s by watchful staff right here in the Manitoba Museum. 

On an ecological note, it is important to bear in mind that there is nothing inherently “bad” about the organisms we have labeled here as pests. In nature, these insects act as nutrient recyclers and food for many other animals. It is only when their behaviour impacts the livelihood and resources of humans that an animal becomes a “pest”. In this situation, we are simply at odds – our job is to acquire and protect a vast collection of objects with historical and scientific value (or, as the pests would call it, “a huge pile of food with nutritional value”), and their job is to eat well and survive long enough to reproduce. 

All that being said, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the insatiable insects of the Manitoba Museum’s Rogues’ Gallery. 

  

Clothes Moth – Tineola bisselliella

A small light-coloured moth, with wings folded closed, pinned through a specimen label.

The clothes moth is a small, drab moth that packs a punch. In nature, these moths lay their eggs in the nests and carcasses of mammals and birds, providing their caterpillars with easy access to a feast of fur, flesh, and dead insects. In their capacity as pests, they enter buildings and lay their eggs in the presence of animal-derived textiles, specifically those made of wool, silk, and leather. This behaviour ensures that their young have plenty to eat. Walking through the galleries, you may be able to picture the damage that they could do to the historical garments, animal furs, and insect specimens that are on display for the public along, with our stored collections. 

 

Interestingly, the adults of this species do not eat at all, so all of the energy they need to disperse and reproduce comes from food eaten by the caterpillar. The adults of the clothes moth tend to crawl rather than fly. This slow and low movement, combined with their understated colour palette and small size, makes them exceptionally sneaky They can avoid detection by humans with ease, making vigilance and pest control measures a must. 

 

Black Carpet Beetle – Attagenus unicolor

A small dark-coloured beetle attached to a scrap of paper that is pinned through a specimen label.

These beetles are tiny – so small, in fact, that the specimens here are pointed rather than pinned directly. As with the clothes moth, the adults disperse to lay eggs near food sources and the larvae that emerge from the eggs do most of the damage. The tiny larvae of these beetles mostly eat natural fibres like wool and silk, making them a threat to clothing, carpets, and rugs stored and on display in the museum. They additionally can eat feathers, fur, and other animal bits, so it is essential that they be kept away from natural history specimens in the galleries and collections. Larvae of these beetles are able to slow their growth when food resources are scarce. Development to the adult life stage can take anywhere from three months to three years! This makes them very difficult to eradicate completely, and even if an infestation appears to be over resurgence is always a possibility. 

 

The Larder Beetle – Dermestes lardarius

A small dark-coloured beetle pinned through a specimen label.

The larder beetle (a member of the Dermestid beetle family) may be a familiar insect to some Manitobans. They occasionally wander into kitchens and pantries in search of food, have a distinctive band of yellow hairs crossing their otherwise black bodies, and are generally large enough to be spotted when they move. While they tend to crawl in small, dark spaces, they can also disperse across larger distances by flying. As with the clothes moth, larder beetles are nutrient recyclers in nature, eating plants and animals in various states of decay and returning their nutrients to the soil. If they get into your home, they survive on stored foods such as grains and dried meats, and under the right circumstances major infestations can develop. In a museum, these beetles are able to cause downright havoc

 

They eat wool, leather, silk, dried plant materials including seeds and grains, animal furs and skins, preserved insects, and even paper. The larvae of this species are particularly hazardous to our collections, as their small size combined with their capacity to climb walls allows them to get to any food that they detect. As if all that wasn’t enough, the larvae are able to bore through solid materials such as wood and plastic. In some cases, they have even been known to bore into tin cans to get at the preserved foods inside! 

 

Pest Control Measures

A sign in a plastic sleeve with images of a beetle, mouse, and caterpillar beneath text reading, “ABSOLUTLEY NO FOOD OR DRINK ALLOWED IN THE COLLECTIONS ROOM / Thank You”.

Due to the damage that they can cause, keeping pests away from the collections of The Manitoba Museum is a matter of utmost importance as we strive to protect the scientific and historical value of the all that is within our care. However, we cannot simply decide that insects will stay out of our museum, as they can fly in through a window, walk through the front door, or even hitch a ride on the clothing of unsuspecting guests. Once they are inside the museum, our pest control measures are the first line of defense.

 

As a basic measure, food items cannot be brought into certain areas of the museum. In the galleries, many displayed objects and specimens are behind glass cases to physically prevent insect access. Baited sticky traps in use throughout the museum are an excellent way to catch insects when they are present, and monitoring them closely allows us to detect problems before they get out of hand. When new items are acquired by the museum, they are frozen twice or exposed to carbon dioxide to get rid of any insects that may be hitching a ride, even as eggs or larvae. Items held in our collections storage rooms are kept in sealed metal cabinets that can keep out even the smallest of insects. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, protection from pests relies on the vigilance of our team. Museum staff monitor items on display and in the collections for signs of insect activity such as feeding damage, shed skins, frass (for the uninitiated, that’s a technical term for sawdust from bore-holes and insect poop), as well as live insects. 

 

Productive Pest

A close-up view into a Museum display case containing a Passenger Pigeon on a roost, and eight jaw bones lined up by size.

 

With all that being said, you might think that we strive to keep our museum completely insect free; however, this is not quite true. Hidden away deep in the museum and behind three locked doors there lies a small, sealed room that a lovely brood of six-legged museum volunteers call home. While cleaning the bones of smaller natural history specimens is a painstaking and time-consuming task for a human, our family of Dermestid beetles is always ready for a meal. Paid only in food, the beetles get our bones thoroughly cleaned and ready for final preparation. Next time you visit the museum, be sure to remember the roles that pests play as friends and foes in the museum as we strive to keep our collections in excellent condition for the research and enjoyment of generations to come. And please, don’t bring any food or drinks into the galleries; protection of the collections also depends on you! 

Aro van Dyck

Aro van Dyck

Collections Technician – Natural History

Aro van Dyck earned her B.Sc. from the University of Manitoba, majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Entomology. She has also researched the diversity of wasps and bees Winnipeg’s greenspaces …
Meet Aro van Dyck

Maximizing Space: Improving the preservation and storage of large mammal skins

A museum staff member smiles up at the camera. On a table in front of them is laid a grey wolf pelt, lined inner side facing up.

Post by Marc Formosa, former Collections Technician of Natural History

A current and ongoing problem for museums is collection storage space. Maximizing space for expanding collections requires Tetris-like problem solving. We are always looking for ways to make the most of the space we have, while improving the long-term preservation of the objects in the collection.

In the spring of 2021, I had the chance to virtually attend the joint American Institution for Conservation (AIC) and The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) conference.  A presentation by Laura Abraczinkas and Barbara Lundrigan titled “Storage Improvements for Tanned Mammal Skins at the Michigan State University Museum” covered folding techniques for large mammal skins to reduce the space they take up, while also discussing how to protect parts of the skin like the paws and head from potential damage while folded.  The information in this presentation inspired a rehousing project for polar bear, grizzly, cougar, grey wolf, and leopard skins in the zoology collection.

Most of the skins that were rehoused as part of this project were attached to a felt fabric backing. This is typically done if a skin is going to be used as a rug. The head is stretched around an armature (made from a variety of materials including wood, foam, and plaster) to maintain a semi-life like position, but it also makes the head quite heavy. The mouth and teeth are created by the taxidermist and are not part of the original mammal.

 

Marc with the grey wolf skin getting it ready for rehousing. Image: © Manitoba Museum

For each mammal, I started by creating custom mittens for their paws out of Tyvek – a lightweight and durable nonwoven material that is resistant to water and abrasion, and has good aging properties. I used a sewing machine, for the first time, and stitched the Tyvek together with cotton thread so each mitten fit snug around each paw. (Pictured below, left)

The folding method can be simply described as a ‘bear’ hugging itself. Every fold is padded out with volara, a smooth closed-celled polyethylene foam, to add support and prevent creases forming in the skin. Finally, the head sits on top of the folded skin, again padded out with volara. (Pictured below, right)

Two pictures side-by-side. Both show the hands of someone out of frame wearing blue gloves, placing a "mitten" on the paw of  a cougar skin.

The stitched Tyvek mittens fit snuggly on each paw. Image: © Manitoba Museum

A cougar skin folded and padded with supports inside a white storage box.

Cougar skin folded and padded with volara supports inside a coroplast box. Image: © Manitoba Museum

For the cougar and leopard heads, custom pads were created for each head to sit on away from the body in order to alleviate stress and prevent the skin from creasing on the neck where the head armature meets the skin. (Pictured below, left)

The skins were individually wrapped in polyethylene sheets as an additional barrier from dust accumulation and insects. Custom boxes were built out of coroplast which allow for the skins to be more easily handled as they move in and out of their new home in the collections storage vault (pictured below, right). Overall, this rehousing project improved the preservation of the skins and their storage method. It freed up space, but free space does not remain long in museum collections storage spaces.

Close-up of a taxidermied cougar head from the side. The chin rests on a support pillow.

The cougar’s head is supported with a soft Tyvek-covered chin pillow. Image: © Manitoba Museum

A row of dark metal storage cabinaets. The top cabinet doors are removed and lean against the floor. Inside each storage compartment is a box holding a carefully wrapped large animal skin.

The rehoused large mammal skins are safely stored in cabinets inside the collections storage vault. Image: © Manitoba Museum

Collecting Today for Tomorrow

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has played a central, and disruptive role in all our lives. In the coming decades will COVID become a significant cultural memory, or will we begin to suffer from historic amnesia? Terabytes of information may be deposited in archives around the world. For museums, even ordinary artifacts will become powerful tools to engage visitors.

At the Manitoba Museum, there were no artifacts with which we could relate the story of the influenza pandemic of a century ago. Museums around the world saw the need to begin collecting today for tomorrow. A call was put out for objects that would help mark this event from the Manitoba perspective. To date, over 70 Manitobans have responded to the call.

Over the past months, as I have been integrating these objects and their stories into the permanent collections of the Manitoba Museum, I have been amazed by the breadth and variety of the items. Here’s an initial glimpse our growing COVID-19 collection.

A Unicity Taxi receipt made out on March 13 for $40. The destination address is digitally redacted.

Can you pinpoint the moment that the pandemic became a reality in your life? Leslie Nakonechny’s employer offered to cover her taxi fare so that she could transport her desktop computer as she headed to work from home. Initially she thought the pandemic would blow over in a few weeks and that she could turn in her receipt once they were back to working on-site. As the lockdown continued the receipt became a memento in her wallet.

 

Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-443

Manitoba’s volunteer spirit was evident early in the pandemic. Sewing machines were dusted off and used to create thousands of masks, gowns, and surgical caps to protect health care workers, friends, and family. We all strove to maintain a sense of community during the pandemic. Signs sprang up in windows, on fences, and along walking paths offering messages of encouragement.

Two images side by side. On the left a colourful handmade surgical cap on a hat stand. On the right is a sign on brown cardboard. In the rough shape of Manitoba text reads,

L: Surgical cap from Surgical Caps for Front Line Care Staff. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-730
R: Sign from Keith Moen, Judy Dyck, Leif & Ruby Moen. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-348

In early 2020, graphic images of a spiked ball began popping up in the media as stories circulated of a new, potentially dangerous virus. Soon the image was being used in inventive ways. The creativity of Manitobans is evident in many of the donations that use a wide variety of media.

Two images side by side. In the left photo are four crocheted COVID molecules with frowning faces. One ball is pink with grey, and the other three are grey with red. In the right photo is a beaded face mask with red, yellow, white, and black quadrents. Over the red and yellow half, a white wold is stitched, and over the black and white half a red paw print.

L: Crocheted COVID balls created by Karen Matthews. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-729
R: Beaded mask created by Kayla Eaglestick. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H4-2-621

The artists’ statements that accompany many of the pieces demonstrate how people seek solace in the arts in a time of disruption. Christen Rachul stamped his pottery with a tiny letter ‘Q’ for Quarantine. Gail Wence took up her embroidery needle, Jacqueline Trudeau her paint brush, and Laurie Fischer returned to writing poetry.

New phrases were added to our everyday vocabulary like “social distancing”, “essential workers”, “lockdown”, “pivot”, and “supply-chain”. The impact on the business community is still significant.  Remember hunting for toilet paper?

A still life artwork featuring various fruits and vegetables soaking with a face mask in a kitchen sink.

“Nature Morte en Eau de Javel/Still Life in Water with Javex” by Gérald Dufault. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-349

A political cartoon of a grocery store shopper pushing a cart past empty shelves labelled "Toilet Paper" and "Hand Sanitizer".

Wall Hanging created by Joan Dupuis-Neal, inspired by a political cartoon by Adam Zyglis. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-340

Genevieve Delaquis spent her time in line capturing many of the decals that told customers where to stand for their safety. There were also new opportunities. U of W students Alex Kroft and Niels Hurst launched a summer business producing 3-D printed face shields for front-line workers.

Manitoba families endured long periods of separation during lockdowns that robbed them of the opportunity to celebrate life’s milestones. Grandchildren were introduced to family via Zoom. Young people graduated virtually.

A collage created of photographs of "Stand Here" social distancing icons on public floors.

“Stand Here” by Geneviève Delaquis. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-347

A clear face shield with a blue headband.

3-D printed face shield. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-716

A red sweatshirt on a mannequin bust. The from of the sweater reads, "Social Distance Club".

Sweatshirt worn by Twila Fillion who was a first-time mother during the lockdown. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-287

With the stores closed for all but essential items, Donalda Johnson created pom poms out of plastic grocery bags and decorated cars for a friend’s retirement parade. 96-year-old Helen Rempel quietly crocheted Christmas ornaments for each of her 26 immediate family members who would not be gathering in person.

COVID themed Christmas ornaments including a gingerbread person wearing a face mask, and pom-poms made of plastic grocery bags.

Some of the most impactful artifacts were created by children.  Many of the items illustrate the efforts of parents, caregivers, and teachers to help young Manitobans cope with the upheaval in their lives. For some, letter writing and drawing allowed them reach out to the community.

Grade 12 student Kendra Radey wrote and illustrated Robby’s Life Lesson to teach children about COVID safety.

Two hand drawn notes. On the left a child's note reads, "Brenley after the virus do you want to play". On the right, a hand drawn comic shows a person in a boat approaching a lake monster who says, "Ach ya bloody idiot! Don't you know you have to stay two bloody meters?!" The comic is titled "The lock-down monster".

L: Note written by 5 year old Charlotte Oldfield. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-450
R: Window sign by Mia Danyluk. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-466

Pages from a hand-drawn book. On the right the page has a drawing of a cat and a dog wearing white lab coats and stethoscopes. In large letters above their heads it says, "We're here to help". Printed text at the bottom reads, "Thousands of people around the world were getting sick and many people needed to be taken to the hospital." The page on the left show paws washing with soap and water in a sink. Printed text along the top reads, "Robby and his family continued to worry, but especially continued to follow the rules and washed their hands whenever they could."

Robby’s Life Lesson written and illustrated by Kendra Radey. Image: © Manitoba Museum, H9-39-692

Public Health officials and politicians tell us we are moving into a ‘new normal’. It is hard to predict when the Museum will be ready to create a retrospective exhibit about the pandemic. As I write this blog, I am aware that I have omitted many of donations. But in the years to come, the COVID-19 collection may be used in museum exhibits and programs or by students, historians, writers, film makers, and others to tell our story.

Nancy Anderson

Nancy Anderson

Collections Management Specialist – Human History

Nancy Anderson holds a B.A. (Hons) in History from the University of Winnipeg, and received her M.A. in Canadian Social History jointly from the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba. She has over 30 years experience…
Meet Nancy Anderson

Pinning Insects for the Museum’s Collections

As part of the Manitoba Museum’s entomology collection, we house over 60,000 pinned insects, true bugs, and arachnids. In addition, there are a further ~3000 invertebrates preserved in alcohol, also referred to as “wet” specimens. While the majority of the collection are pinned insects in their adult form, there are also examples of the many and varied life stages that occur prior to the adult form, including egg, larval, nymph, and pupal forms. It is important that a scientific collection contain representatives of these life stages (including males and females of each), as they can and do look very different within any given species.

The Manitoba Museum is a research and collections-based museum whose mandate is to collect and preserve both the natural and human histories of the province for present and future generations. Curators conduct research throughout the province in their respective fields of expertise. Specimens are collected during field seasons and are brought to the museum for preparation and subsequent study. Before specimens can be handled and made accessible for study, they must be prepared to maintain their long-term preservation. Fossils need to be exposed from their matrix, plants need to be dried and mounted, and birds and mammals transformed into skins and skeletons. Insects too, must undergo a preparation process in order to stabilize them for storage, and to make them safer to handle. This is where skill meets a bit of art, and sometimes a little luck!

Open storage drawers  containing many neatly organized pinned butterflies.

The Manitoba Museum’s entomology collection represents most of all the very diverse groups and species that occur in Manitoba. Image: © Manitoba Museum

A small pile of winged ants on a white surface next to a hand-written note reading, "Collected by R. Mooi / Sept 10/2020 / Winnipeg - on wall".

It all starts here – Dr. Randy Mooi, Curator of Zoology, has brought in some dead carpenter ants with collection information. Image: © Manitoba Museum

A Confusing Bumblebee specimen hanging upside-down from a the pink and yellow flower of a Darkthroat Shootingstar plant model.

Once specimens are carefully collected and brought to the museum, a decision must be made on how a particular insect will be preserved. Part of this decision is based on what type of insect (invertebrate) it is, but also how we may want use the specimen afterward. Typically, insect specimens for scientific use are pinned in a traditional manner according to international museum standards where all parts are positioned symmetrically, and anatomy used for identifying characteristics are not obscured. If a specimen will be used for educational purposes, or included in an exhibition in one of our galleries, the pinning is slightly different so that a more life-like pose is achieved. Certain groups or forms, such as a caterpillar (larva), or other worm-like animals, would simply shrivel up if it was pinned, and would not be very recognizable. These types preserve better as a whole body stored in a vial with alcohol as a wet specimen.

 

I pinned this Confusing Bumblebee (Bombus perplexus) in a life-like pose, as it would naturally be, collecting nectar. Our Diorama Specialist, Deborah Thompson then attached it to a Darkthroat Shootingstar plant model she expertly made. This pair is now installed in the new Prairies Gallery. Image: © Manitoba Museum

Three plastic cups placed inside a larger plastic container with a snap-lid. In each of the plastic cups are a few insect specimens.

When adult insects are collected, they typically become very dry and brittle by the time they are brought into the museum. Handling them is difficult without causing damage, as tiny legs and antennae can easily break off. In order to manipulate and pin them in the correct position, they must first be re-hydrated into a softened state. Plastic containers with good sealing lids are used as a re-hydrating environment. The container is filled with a couple of centimetres of distilled water with some alcohol added to guard against any mould growth. Insect specimens are then placed on top of a piece of rigid foam which is floated within the container.  After a few days, the specimens are checked to see if they are pliable enough for the wings and legs to easily be moved. Small flies could be ready in a few days, large beetles with thick exoskeletons and strong ligaments, could take several days.

 

Insects are placed in a re-hydrating container to soften, and make them pliable for the pinning process. Image: © Manitoba Museum

Once in a softened state, the insect is ready for the pinning process. The insect is gently held while a main pin is inserted through the thorax, just below the base of the forewings, and placed perpendicular to the plane of the body. Special entomology pins are used as they are made of metals that will not corrode when in contact with the insect. They come in different gauges to be used with the varying sizes of insects. A large insect, such as a butterfly, will require a thicker pin for sturdiness, and a very thin gauge pin would be used for smaller insects. Anything even smaller, or extremely fragile is “pointed”. That is, where an insect is too small to have a pin inserted, it is instead carefully glued to the ‘point’ of a small triangle of archival card stock and the main pin is then inserted through the point. This main pin is now the only way the specimen can safely be handled.

A monarch butterfly specimen positioned on a pinning board with strips of glassine and straight pins. In the background are a magnifying glass and various pinned insects in storage containers.

A pinning board is used to properly position a large butterfly specimen. Image: © Manitoba Museum

A close up on a fly specimen held in place with several straight pins.

Numerous support pins are used to position the legs and wings of this fly specimen. Image: © Manitoba Museum

When the main pin has been properly placed, the legs, wings, and antennae must then be positioned. A pinning board made of soft balsa wood or dense foam is used for specimens with large wings such as butterflies, moths, dragonflies, or grasshoppers. It has a trough where the body can be lowered, and the wings can then be spread over the flat surfaces of the boards on either side and supported. Spreading the wings properly is a bit like the game “Twister” for the fingers. Insect wings are incredibly fragile, so carefully coaxing them away from the insect’s body without damaging them takes some practice. Add to that, the wings of Lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) are covered in fine, microscopic scales that aid in flight, waterproofing, and coloration that will break off, like dust, if touched. Forceps are gently used to spread the forewing out from the body on one side, and while holding that in place, the hind wing on the same side, is brought out and positioned. Once both wings on one side are in the proper position, a strip of glassine is placed gently over them. Glassine is a smooth translucent paper that will not abrade the scales of the wings. Pins are then inserted just through the paper and into the underlying pinning board to hold everything in place. This process is then repeated with the wings on the other side. The antennae and legs are then moved into place, slightly away from the body, and support pins are inserted into the board to hold them there. This is done so that the legs do not obscure any important identifying characteristics.

After the insect is pinned into the correct position, it is left to dry. Depending on the size of the insect, it may dry in a few days, larger beetles and dragonflies could take over a week. When it is dried, the positioning pins are very carefully removed and it is now ready for data labels to be attached on the main pin below the specimen. Labels are printed on archival paper and contain all the pertinent data about the specimen such as the identification, who collected the specimen, and when and where it was collected. This data is also entered into our collections management database. As with all specimens in our collections, it is extremely important to keep each specimen together with its data. The data proves that this exact species occurred in this time and place – it’s recorded proof of that biodiversity snapshot of that time. If the data labels ever became separated from its specimen, its intrinsic scientific value is greatly diminished, or completely lost.

Looking down a corridor at a glass display wall of pinned insects.

The vast diversity of insects of Manitoba’s Boreal Forest is showcased in the Boreal Gallery and contains over 700 invertebrates. Image: © Manitoba Museum/Ian McCausland

Museum collections all over the world apply these same international techniques and standards when preparing and storing specimens for study. This aids in maintaining consistency between museum collections, and have changed very little over the past several hundred years.

Two images side by side. On the left is a black and white photo of rows of pinned insects. On the is a colour photograph of similar insects pinned in a similar fashion.

Left: Sir Joseph Banks Insect Collection (1743-1820) Image: © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London. Licensed under the Open Government Licence

Right: Present-day insect collection at the Manitoba Museum. Image: © Manitoba Museum

Janis Klapecki

Janis Klapecki

Collections Management Specialist – Natural History

Janis Klapecki obtained a B.Sc. from the University of Manitoba, specializing in Zoology and Botany. She also holds a certificate in Managing Natural History Collections from the University of Victoria, BC. Janis has over 20 years experience…
Meet Janis Klapecki

Dressed to Impress: The Art of Fitting Historic Textiles 

By Carolyn Sirett, Conservator, and Lee-Ann Blase, Conservation Volunteer 

We have all seen those lifeless mannequins looking sad and lonely in a store’s window front, longing for the next wardrobe change of a new season. Here at the Manitoba Museum we like to give our mannequins a bit more attention to detail compared to their retail cousins, what some might call, a full spa treatment! 

Humans are uniquely different from one another, and our clothing choices are also uniquely different, from size to shape to style. These human qualities are well represented in our historic textile collection, and when displaying these garments, every detail is assessed to ensure its preservation. 

Dressing a museum mannequin is the opposite of fitting a living person. Instead of fitting the clothes to the person, the mannequin is made to fit the clothes. Many of the mannequins we use at the Museum have been custom made by our conservation department using conservation-quality materials. We first begin by measuring the waist, chest, neck, arm, and leg lengths. The mannequin form is then either trimmed down, or padded out with polyester fibre to reach the required dimensions to properly support the clothing. 

 

 

Once the basic form is made and covered with a suitable fabric, we begin to dress the mannequin. This is where historic photographs are useful to see how the outfits were worn, and to bring a little more personality to our frozen foam bodies. Edith Rogers’ cotton-crocheted tea gown, displayed in the Winnipeg Gallery, is a good example of using research to determine the best fit. A tea gown bridges the gap between dress and undress as a corset is not worn with it. Research shows only an upper-class woman could have afforded this type of dress among their ball, dinner, reception, and afternoon dresses. 

A similar style dress from a 1913 Eaton’s of Toronto catalogue was used as a reference when building the mannequin for the Edith Rogers dress.

Image: Eaton’s Spring and Summer Catalogue, No. 106, 1913 

When this dress was chosen for display it first needed to be stabilized in the conservation lab with a fine net in the bodice and a few minor tear repairs. In order to make this garment appear as it would, we added a petticoat from the Museum’s collection to help support the textile. With the petticoat slipped over the custom form, then carefully sliding the dress on and using acid-free tissue to fill any gaps – voila – the tea gown was ready for exhibition. 

The last part of dressing a mannequin is in the finer details. The arms, hands, legs, waist, and head all need to be positioned. For the modern Pow Wow dancer in the renewed Prairies Gallery, the Curator wanted to evoke the idea that the mannequin is dancing, to look as if the mannequin is in-motion. When trying to imply movement, it can be difficult to balance the mannequin as a structure, but also to balance the preservation of the artifacts that are being displayed. 

On your next visit to the Museum, hopefully you are able to see some of these fabulously fitted forms. 

Conservator Carolyn Sirett adjusts the headdress of Pow Wow regalia on a mannequin in the conservation lab.

Making final adjustments to the mannequin in the conservation laboratory.

Image: © Manitoba Museum 

Intricate Pow Wow regalia on a mannequin posed to look as though it is mid-dance in a display case in the Prairies Gallery.

One of 22 custom mannequins created by Conservator Carolyn Sirett and installed in the new Prairies Gallery.

Image: © Manitoba Museum/Ian McCausland 

Carolyn Sirett

Meet the Conservation Team

Carolyn Sirett

Senior Conservator

Carolyn Sirett received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba, Diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria, and Diploma in Collections Conservation and Management…
Meet Carolyn Sirett