Blogs & Videos: Object Conservation

Shelves of large, ornate books in different colors (green, brown, red, blue), many with gold designs emblazoned on their spines

Four Fascinating Finds in the Rare Book Room, from Audubon to Ole Worm

The Field Museum’s collection includes many different objects: dinosaur bones, dried plants, and ancient artifacts, just to name a few. But there’s another fascinating collection here that you may not expect: books. They’re located in an active, working library, where researchers can make appointments to pore through books and documents on a wide range of subjects.

Two large dinosaurs, one wearing a Cubs jersey

Why We Don’t Dress Up SUE (Or Any Other Real Skeletons)

Lucille Carver is the Social Media Strategist at The Field Museum. Bill Simpson, Collection Manager, Fossil Vertebrates, contributed to this post. Here at The Field Museum, we often show our Chicago pride by outfitting our Brachiosaurus plastic mounted skeleton on the west side of the building with an oversized team jersey. Whenever we do this, it creates a flurry of questions and comments about why we don’t do this with SUE, too. Here’s why you won’t see SUE decked out in festive attire. 

Conservator works on an Egyptian coffin.

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.

Three conservators carefully work to move an Egyptian mummy.

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.

A female conservator works on a painted Egyptian 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 ceramics 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.

Pages