By Jayme Schlimper, Overnight Program Manager and Curator of Education Collections
Hello! Today I want to let you in on a secret. Hidden in the museum is a magical room full of everything you could ever imagine. A Room of Requirement, if you will (and if you are a Harry Potter fan). It’s called Education Collections.
You may have heard of Museum Collections, where a museum catalogs and stores all of the artifacts that it owns. Storage in Collections is very specific and caters to the temperature and humidity requirements of the artifacts, keeping theses priceless items safe and in in good condition. Education Collections is not quite the same. Our collection is full of wonderful and strange things that kids can interact with and are intended to be used up by the public as part of educational programming (including our super awesome summer camps). So, long story short – you won’t find any priceless fossils here. BUT you will find a lot of really cool stuff – so let’s take a little behind the scenes tour shall we?
First up, I’d like to give you an idea of what you’re working with – here is part of Education Collections. It looks a little crazy at the moment because camp is just around the corner. So, we’ve had to pull everything out of their hidey holes to put them in classrooms. I feel like someone who had unexpected company come by and is trying to justify their messy house…..
Moving on to our “Land of the Dead” – a.k.a Taxidermy and non-living specimens. In this area of our collection, we house many type of specimens, including many birds. In Museum Collections, generally specimens such as these will be grouped together based on their species. In the education collection, we are less concerned with that, focusing instead on things like beak types and other adaptations that can be pointed out to kids to discuss why birds might have these different adaptations.
We also have bins like the “What Am I?” bin. Fear not! We do actually know what is inside that bin. It is a fun activity where we’ve put together some really strange specimens and the game is you try to identify them. It’s much harder than it sounds.
We don’t just have animal specimens though. We have everything stored here that you could ever need for summer camp…or the apocalypse…whichever… Seriously. If I needed to be somewhere during the apocalypse I’d choose collections for sure. We have pretty much everything you could think of… glue, scissors, tape, hula hoops, cow eyeballs, marshmallows, shovels, basketballs, owl pellets, tiny lightbulbs, sand, paint – you name it, there’s a good chance we’ve got it. Since we have so many things and not all of them get used for their intended purpose, we store them based on some weird criteria. Here are some labels that you might find as you walk around. See if you can figure out what they might be!
As you can see some labels are more helpful than others. Since I don’t wanna leave you hanging, I’ll let you know what actually lives behind each of these labels! “Sticky things – dry” are things like tape, velcro dots etc. as opposed to “Wet Sticky Things” which is glue. ALL THE GLUE. “Implements of Destruction” are odd tools that don’t really fit in anywhere else. As you can see, we’re very good at repurposing things around here as there are exactly zero mammals in that bin ( even though it is clearly labeled as such). “Dolls with organs” are actual dolls with little organs inside that CSI camp uses to study anatomy! The last two are pretty self explanatory – though Hedwig doesn’t look too happy about being lumped in with other “wizard familiars”.
Well, I hope you enjoyed our little tour of Education Collections! Tune in next time for some mid- summer camp updates!
And if this fun foray into our education collection got you to thinking that you might be interested in enrolling your child in our camps, you can find more information about Summer Camps @ HMNS here!