Monthly Archives: March 2013

Bats, Birds, & Biodiversity!

A  couple of weeks ago I was excited to assist in the planning and implementation of an annual middle school science workshop. This specific workshop focused on the importance of biodiversity in urban environments. The program featured a guest naturalist, and then middle school students were able to build a bird or a bat house to take home. It was great fun – we all learned a lot! 


No students or staff were harmed during construction! Here I am helping a very capable student build a bat house. It was a lot of fun!





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Connecting with Collections

This week I’ve been working with our wonderful curators to incorporate animal specimens from the Museum’s research collection in an upcoming program. The program will focus on endangered wildlife from Illinois. The event’s objective is not only to educate visitors about the range of plants and animals in danger, but also highlight what people can do to help. Museum visitors will also get a chance to see collections rarely on display! 

A range of animal specimens will be on display, including snakes, turtles, and birds from the area. Some of the specimens will be real, preserved examples of the species while others will be realistic models.

Here is a sneak preview of what will be featured at the program: 


Several examples of snake models.
Included is Kirtland’s Snake – can you spot it?

Because of the condition of the models and the specimens, visitors will not be able to touch the examples, but will have the opportunity to closely observe the examples during a drawing activity. The event will feature other hands-on crafts and activities.

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It’s Illinois – so of course the weather is unpredictable.

Local school districts were closed due to the record 18.5″ of snow over the weekend, and many area residents were snowed in. The Museum was a busy place however with tourists and traveling spring breakers enjoying the free exhibits – including the ever popular Play Museum.

As it starts to melt outside already, take a look at the Research and Collections Center’s sign!

Mountains of snow obscure the entrance to the Illinois State Museum Research and Collection Center.

Mountains of snow obscure the entrance to the Illinois State Museum Research and Collection Center.

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PechaKucha 20×20

Last week I was invited by the ISM to present a public lecture at our Research and Collections Center. I decided to focus on a topic I have both a personal and professional interest in – film posters. The presentation focused on the history of film posters, how posters may act as both art and artifact, and how to identify common styles of film posters.

Here’s one of the posters I discussed: 


Star Wars, 1978 rerelease one-sheet, style d

While I was a bit nervous speaking before both museum staff and the public, the lecture went well. The audience was very welcoming, and I had numerous questions after the presentation. A few days after the lecture, I was asked whether I would be willing to present this topic at a different venue, at a PechaKucha

A PechaKucha? A short Google Search later and I was caught up to speed. This unique form of presentation calls for 20 images shown and discussed for 20 seconds each. How’s that for timing? While it will be interesting to skim the hour lecture down, it should be a fun and unique challenge. The details still need to be ironed out – but I’m excited about this possibility, and the opportunity to see other community members speak on a range of topics! 

Have you ever attended a PechaKucha? What would you present about? 

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Celebrate with a Koala!

Check out this studious koala.


What Does a Koala Bear Need? (1976)
By Jane Belk Moncure
Illustrated by Helen Endres

I spotted this 1970s children’s picture book while volunteering with our local library’s Youth Services Department a few weeks ago. The book compares the needs of a baby koala with those of a human child – so it gets a bit strange at points. But the pictures of the koala are cute. (Can you tell I love koalas?)

This seems a perfect way to announce it – yes, it’s official – I passed my graduate exams yesterday!

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Artist Spotlight: Martin Lewis

Every now and then you just have to purge.

This afternoon – in a mild attempt at procrastination – I started the task of editing and deleting images on my phone (amazing how they accumulate). While deleting, I spotted a picture I saved sometime over Summer 2012, while interning in the sweltering hot Northern Neck of Virginia at Stratford Hall. The picture was from a newspaper and detailed a 1930 print by Martin Lewis titled Shadow Dance which had recently sold in New York at an artist-record price of $50,400.

The image shows flappers emerging from a city subway at dusk, ready to face the night’s adventures. The print captured my imagination while sweating out the summer inventorying a stable and coach house. The energy in the image is apparent, with the bright young things eager to explore and have a good time.

Martin Lewis (1881-1962)
Shadow Dance, 1930.
Drypoint and sandpaper.

An Australian immigrant, Martin Lewis spent much of his life in the United States in major cities such as San Francisco and New York, working with a variety of paper media. Lewis experimented with processes such as etching, aquatint, engraving, and drypoint with his works. His subject matter typically featured busy city street scenes, such as Shadow Dance. Later in life he focused on rural, country scenes after moving to Connecticut. The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, featured the artist in an exhibit which ran from October 2, 2011 – February 26, 2012. I’m sorry to have missed the exhibit, but here’s a link to its online presence.

(I decided not to delete the picture from my phone.)

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A Career in Museums?

As a child I envied my peers who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. You know the type – Firefighter. Teacher. Doctor. Nurse. Mime. I remember thinking, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. 

Since then I have discovered that I love working in museums. I enjoy engaging visitors and making museum collections accessible. Every day something new is going on – a new program to design, a new project to research, a new volunteer to train – I don’t remember the last time I was ever bored!

Recently I had the opportunity to help represent the field of museums at a high school career fair. Eager students flooded a gym set up with about fifty different exhibitors, with career fields ranging from dance to pharmacy to funeral home management and beyond. There was a wonderful turnout by both local organizations and interested students. It was great to talk with students about what they were interested in studying at college and potentially pursuing as a career.The day was energizing a number of ways. Often students asked what they could do to prepare themselves for potentially working in the field. Our answer? Visit museums. Volunteer. Intern, etc. Exploring a career in museums comes with its share of challenges – as does any number of professions these days. As an emerging professional almost done with graduate school, talking with these high school students was refreshing and reminded me of when I first began considering a career path in the museum world! Their ideas and curiosity about the field made the morning and afternoon fly.

When did you first start to consider your career? Are you pursuing what you thought you wanted to be “when you grow up?”

ISM represented the field of museums at a high school career fair. We had the subcategory of "archeology" as well - although this is just one aspect of the expertise on staff!

ISM represented the field of museums at a high school career fair. We had the subcategory of “archaeology” as well – although this is just one aspect of the expertise on staff!

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Research, Research, Research

This afternoon I had the pleasure of once again volunteering with a local arts association. I am assisting with an upcoming publication which will celebrate the Springfield Art Association‘s centennial anniversary. My duties in the last few months have consisted of researching the Springfield Art Association’s (SAA) archives and collections. In addition to helping out the SAA, I am honing my own skills in the art museum sector. As research and progress continues, I look forward to helping the SAA in developing and organizing themes for the text and digitally archiving material as appropriate. 

As someone who works closely with volunteers during my job, I find it is really rewarding to be on the other side of that relationship while working full-time. While it can be challenging to find the time, it’s been great helping out! 

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Drying Off

As the weather outside clears up and the sidewalks and streets start to dry, I thought I’d share some pictures of drying artwork from a few recent Super Saturdays at the ISM. Many colorful creations! Click the pictures to see more detail.

Fantastic Fossils: Dinosaurs Super Saturday. Drying eggs & handprints.

Fantastic Fossils: Dinosaurs Super Saturday Drying eggs & handprints.

American Indian Harvest Super Saturday, bean & seed mosaics

American Indian Harvest Super Saturday, bean & seed mosaics

Story Time Art Super Saturday, Drying Snowman, inspired by Lois Ehlert’s book Snowballs.

Story Time Art Super Saturday, Drying Snowman, inspired by Lois Ehlert’s book Snowballs.

Illinois Women from A-Z Super Saturday, drying portraits

Illinois Women from A-Z Super Saturday, drying portraits

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Rainy Day at the Museum

It’s a rainy day in exotic central Illinois. The inside of the museum is nice and dry – perfect for the multiple family programs today!

rainy ism

Are you more likely to go to a museum when there’s inclement weather?

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