UPDATE: The cache is still hidden – More clues can be found on our new blog post.
For the month of July, I have hidden another geocache near the Museum. To nurture the “inner pirate” of our readers, it is a treasure – a vial of cut and polished colored gem stones. Additionally if you produce the vial at Museum Services (ask them to contact firstname.lastname@example.org) you will receive Museum passes and admission to The Nature of Diamonds exhibit.
The first step is to find the GPS coordinates listed below. Once you have found this spot, a compass is needed to steer a course of 084 degrees magnetic. The number of paces is equal to the automobile license plate prefix for my hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (That’s a bit of trivia that will require an Internet search.)
N 29 degress 43′ 16.7″
W 95 degrees 23′ 20.5″
The usual rules regarding geocaching apply: no digging, dismantling or destruction is necessary, nor is there any trespassing or climbing involved.
Working in the museum’s permanent collections I focus on artifacts and specimens – after all, that’s my job. But it’s not just the artifacts and specimens that tell a story around here. It’s the people too. Behind all the exhibits and public areas are many folks hard at work to make science and this museum relevant and memorable to you.
Lately, thanks to a recent staff luncheon given by the HMNS Guild and some quick conversations in the halls, I’ve been able to get caught up with my colleagues to find out what they doing behind the scenes.
Dr. Dan Brooks just co-authored an article on the birds of the Pongos Basin in the Peruvian Andes, published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. (You can read blog posts by Dan here.) Several HMNS specimens were cited in the article, which is very cool. (Plus, I learned what a pongo is. Look it up for yourself and impress your friends and neighbors.)
The anthropology section in collections storage has been organized and practically transformed by Beth. She has ensured that all those wondrous artifacts are properly labeled, stored, and easily located. You have no idea how much work this entailed! Imagine having all of your stuff from attic to basement labeled and neatly put away – with a color-coded key map. Truly, my cold registrar’s heart is warmed and I get a little misty-eyed just thinking about it.
Anytime you get an in-house phone call that begins with, “I hate to bother you but” you know that intro is going to end with “do you know where David Temple is?”. And I do know for certain that he’s been up in Seymour working on the museum’s ongoing dino dig with Dr. Bakker (read his posts here). I doubled-checked with his wife Nicole.
When I climb upstairs to run some mail through the meter I notice it’s pretty calm in the Admin offices. I think they’ve all finally rested up from last week’s very successful fundraising gala. Poking my head into Kat’s office for a quick chat I found out that the education department is immersed in HMNS overnights, teachers’ workshops, and getting prepared for a full summer of a multitude of classes. Don’t forget to register your kids pronto, those classes fill up fast.
Next, I quickly check on lunch plans with Tammy, manager of the museum’s mineral and fossil shop, who’s busy with all sorts of new specimens and arranging them in the cases. She also provided her expertise at the gala’s mineral and fossil auction. Passing by the museum’s visitor services desk I stop briefly to see if I have any mail. It’s been a really busy day, probably due to the start of spring break, and Martha’s expression says it all.
There are some odds-and-ends photographs I need to drop off to the Volunteer Office, an always-upbeat place. They’re happy to have found good homes for all the beardies but were so bereft without them, they bought one at the gala. He’s been aptly named Ka-ching.
I actually don’t need anything from the exhibits guys, I’m just curious to see what they’re working on. Today they are preparing one of our exhibit halls for the upcoming Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit. Mike and Glen are repairing some walls and ceiling tiles. Soon they’ll be full bore into construction and layout. Preston and Lex pour over exhibit floor plans.
The last colleague I touch base with is Christine, our live animal program manager. She’s been out to a school with our Wildlife on Wheels program, sounds like the first-graders were adorable. Next she demonstrates the Blue-footed Booby bird dance. We both crack up. I head back to the relative quiet of Collections knowing that even though I only spoke to a small portion of the staff, and not at any great length, this museum, along with its artifacts and specimens, is in excellent hands.