Blogs & Videos: Object Conservation

Through thick and thin! Stabilizing the Plaster on Minirdis’ Coffin

After cleaning, the first part of Minirdis’ burial equipment that we treated was his coffin.  The coffin was constructed of wood panels joined with wood dowels. A layer of an orange colored plaster like material had been applied over the wood to fill gaps between the wood panels and provide a smooth surface. On top of the plaster layer, the coffin had been painted black with red and yellow decoration.

How to Uncoffin a Mummy

Removing the lid of the coffin was just the start. Now there was the problem of removing the damaged mummy from the lower half of the coffin. With the lid off we found that the right side piece, which had been held in place by the lid, was detached from the bottom of the coffin and could easily be removed. This meant that the mummy could be slid out, instead of trying to pick it up – good news because the assembly was very fragile. Even so, this was no small task, and it took four people to safely move him out of the coffin.

Introduction to the Conservation of "Mummies: Images of the Afterlife"

  Traveling exhibits pose a challenge for museums, especially when particularly fragile objects such as mummies are involved. We want to share our objects and what we’ve found out about them with people outside the museum, but transporting the objects to other museums involves all kinds for risks – traffic accidents, malfunctioning forklifts, road vibration, and freezing winters to name just a few.

Field Museum Women in Science (FMWIS) Internships 2014 -- Madeleine Farris

Learn more about FMWIS intern Madeleine Farris, and her work with Emily Baca and Ryan Patrick Williams.  Madeleine's project, "Archaeological Study of Peruvian Materials in the South American Laboratory" involved working with ceremanics and pottery to learn more about Inca economy and society. 

Field Museum Women in Science (FMWIS) Internships 2014 -- Jessica Mohlman

Learn about Jessica Mohlman and her FMWIS project, “Southern Mexican Economic Botany”. Within the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, there is an excavation site by the name of El Palmillo, a hilltop terrace community which once held the residence of the Zapotec people. While this area was one of the driest in the Valley of Oaxaca, it had some of the largest populations after the Classic Period. The communities were able to survive due to drought resistant plants. These drought resistant plants were used for food, alcohol, medicine, and sources of fiber within this region.

Video: The Team

Meet the other members of this inaugural team and learn about what skills are needed for the upkeep of this important collection. Check back in on Monday for the final video in the series for a first-hand look at the backbone for the whole collection – the infrastructure. See what goes into installing the collection’s compactor units and see how these nuts and bolts do more than hold everything together.