Old, lichen-covered car door displayed like a precious jewel

Lichen-covered car door on display in the lichen exhibit at the Field Museum

Lichen-covered car door on display in the lichen exhibit at the Field Museum

April is taxidermy and diorama month. At first glance difficult to make a connection to lichens. But only at first glance. Of course the best example of lichen dioramas is our very own lichen exhibit, and especially its center piece: the now famous car door. It nicely shows how an old piece of "junk", specifically the driver door of a classic Ford Bronco, can come to shine in new light. Whereas a lichen-covered car is already a spectacular sight, our exhibit team did a fabulous job in setting up said door in a case illuminated with UV, making it look like a precious jewel. Scientifically spoken, it actually is a jewel, and our lichen L-team just began to study the many species of lichens growing on it. At some point, the exhibits team was actually worried the lichens would continue to grow and take over the exhibit space (and maybe the entire museum). That would be stuff for a new movie following "The Relic"! In reality, while lichens may occur in very extreme environments, once dry they do not metabolize anymore and in a collection usually die off very quickly, while still looking alive.