100 Years – 100 Objects: Aluminum Wire Car


January 16, 2009
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The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Dirk, the museum’s curator of anthropology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent human cultures throughout time and around the world, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.

How do African children play? One answer is: with toys they make themselves. The aluminum–wire car is but one of many shapes rendered in this material. This particular car was made in 1999 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This car illustrates the creative genius of African children, who make these kinds of toys by recycling wire and tires. It shows the great flexibility and adaptability that makes humans such interesting subjects to study.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the photo gallery on hmns.org.

Dirk
Authored By Dirk Van Tuerenhout

As curator of anthropology, Dirk is responsible for the museum’s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits.

Dirk is an expert in human cultures; he curates the Museum’s Hall of the Americas and specializes in native American cultures like the Aztec and Maya.

10 responses to “100 Years – 100 Objects: Aluminum Wire Car”

  1. Amanda says:

    How come none of these objects from this series on public display?

  2. Erin B says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Some objects from the series are on public display – we just haven’t gotten to those yet.

    We have millions of artifacts preserved in our collections, and we thought this series would be a neat way to showcase some of those that are not currently – but may someday – be on display, as a way to highlight the 100-year history of the Museum. Our curators had the freedom to choose objects from any part of the collection – on display or not – for the series.

    When the object is something from our collection that is not on display, this series provides a peek behind-the-scenes. When it is something on display (coming soon) perhaps you will learn something new about an object you have seen many times.

    In any case – I hope you, and everyone else who reads the blog, enjoys learning about these cool artifacts as much as I do.

  3. Stephen says:

    Will the 2007 annual report be posted? I only can find the 2004-2006 online. Also, do you think HMNS has one of the best dinosaur exhibits in the world? I haven’t visited many natural history museums in the world. I hope there will be dinosaur specimens in the 100-object series!

  4. Stephen says:

    Where would this aluminum car and the south american bird fit into the museum’s curatorial departments? Also, is the baby cradle on public display?

    Erin, what objects do you find the most interesting and captivating on display? I would say the rhodochrosite always fascinates me!

  5. Stephen says:

    Sorry for all these multiple posts…..I think that the museum website should have more detail into particular highlights from each of the permanent exhibits. That way it will grab more attention and interest.

  6. Erin B says:

    The Aluminum Car is part of our anthropology collection, and the Cracid is aprt of our collection of vertebrate zoology. We had an exhibit on Cracids here a few years ago that included many similar of this endangered species. The baby cradle is not on display – but if it were, it would likely be in the Hall of the Americas.

    It’s hard for me to pick a favorite object on display – everything here has a great story that goes along with it. The Quetzacoatlus is quite spectacular, and I love the ankylosaur as well.

  7. Stephen says:

    Can you please answer this question? Will the 2007 annual report be posted? I only can find the 2004-2006 online. Also, do you think HMNS has one of the best dinosaur exhibits in the world? I haven’t visited many natural history museums in the world. I hope there will be dinosaur specimens in the 100-object series!

    If the aluminum car were to be on display, what hall would it go in? There is no African culture hall. Same with the Cracid, as there is no South American animals hall.

  8. Erin B says:

    I am looking into the annual report for you. Also, it’s not possible for everything in the collection to go on display – due to space, and for the reasons you mentioned, among others. As of now, we do not have exhibit halls featuring either topic – but as we build the collections and expand the Museum, it’s always a possibility for the future. It’s also possible they might go on display as part of special exhibitions (as in the case of Cracids). For now, I’m glad we can at least share these pieces online – and I hope you enjoy the series.

  9. Stephen says:

    Would you say that most of the best objects from the museum’s collections are currently on public display? Is HMNS considered one of the largest museums in area in the world? I haven’t visited many unfortunately.

  10. Dj says:

    I am making a car that will be similar to this. I was wondering on how to make it, if so can anyone give me directions via-email or reply back. Thanks so much!

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