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Category Archives: Geology & Paleontology

Isn’t it iconic? Don’t you think?

    What are the Factors that Make an Exhibit “Iconic”? In the last little while we have been working on the plan for a new exhibit in the Museum’s Earth History Gallery, which will be focused on a large specimen that we recently added to the collections. Around here we like to refer to the specimen and the planned exhibit as “iconic.” But what does iconic really mean? And…

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We Have Guests

Michael Cuggy (L) and Dave Rudkin discussing specimen notes. Those of you who are familiar only with the exhibits and the other “front end” parts of the Museum might be surprised at the constant changes that take place in the hidden parts of the institution. You might think that the dusty backrooms would remain the same from decade to decade, but really it is a whirl: exhibits are built in the workshop…

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I Miss the Mammoths

Crown view of a woolly mammoth molar from Bird, northern Manitoba (specimen V-1739; illustration by Debbie Thompson) Recently, there seem to have been a lot of stories in the media about the remarkable intelligence of elephants. Scarcely a week goes by without a new science story about how elephants are among the few non-human creatures that are self-aware, about their superb communication skills, about the ways in which they care for…

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Slicing the Onion

Downtown Winnipeg, as it has looked so often this winter. A couple of weeks ago, I gave a presentation at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg, as part of our Museum lecture course Into the Vault. I was planning to talk about the ancient island shoreline deposits we have been studying in the Churchill area, and as I thought about history and pre-history, I was reminded of an observation I had made during…

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Curator

‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘ ‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ‘The…

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Mud, Glorious Mud?

I have often been told by members of the public that, “it must be so exciting to do paleontological fieldwork.” This is true, it can be very exciting to visit new places, to discover and collect fossils that were previously unknown to science. But often the conditions are such that the fieldwork is more of a necessary evil. It is a step that must be passed to acquire essential specimens,…

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New Guidebooks Published

Following on from my recent post about the geology of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, it seems entirely appropriate timing that another piece of architectural geology work has just been published. Last week, a guidebook to the geology of the Manitoba Legislative Building, by Jeff Young, Bill Brisbin, and me, finally appeared in downloadable form. The entire file (20 megabytes) can be found here. This book was published as…

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Geology of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights: Part 1

The construction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg has been the subject of tremendous public interest and media coverage. As opening nears for this institution, our first national museum outside the Ottawa area, I have read discussions of the planned exhibits and galleries, conversations concerning the relationship between the museum and local communities, and assessments of the architecture of the spectacular building. I have not, however,…

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Geology of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights: Part 3

2. Mongolian Basalt Slabs of dark igneous stone, apparently basalt or diabase, can be seen covering some walls in the lower parts of the museum, but for a geological appreciation of volcanic rock the visitors must wait until they have passed upward into the huge Garden of Contemplation. This is the finest place I know of for viewing columnar-jointed igneous rocks, between Thunder Bay and the Rockies! Walls of Tyndall…

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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…

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