Museum Collections: Cooler than it Sounds!

Oftentimes we find ourselves in social situations with people we’ve never met before. You may be in a doctor’s office, a school open house, or even at a social event in our Museum. While mingling with new people the same conversations invariably come up, with the subject matter being almost as predictable as your favorite pet greeting you at the door. The question we’ve all both asked and answered that amuses me the most is, “So, what do you do for a living?” Personally I’m okay with that question because saying that I work for the Houston Museum of Natural Science often results in responses like, “My children love that place!” or, “We’ve been members for years!”

Those are the typical responses I get when I omit the department I work for. How could the response be any different based on the department that I belong to? Well, I work in Museum Collections, and while for many that brings up mental images of stacks of old fossils and fragments of pottery, for some people it makes them envision a completely different form of “collections” work. Don’t get me wrong, as a struggling college student that was prone to creatively juggling bill due dates I can see where their mind processed the second word and completely missed the first. I help add to their consternation by providing my title of Inventory Manager, which I believe lends a mental image of tracking office chairs and Swingline staplers.

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Not office chairs and swingline staplers

It really isn’t like that at all — and now comes the fun part of letting you peek behind the curtain of what it is to do what I do. Our Museum has a huge collection of artifacts, fossils, animals, shells, and minerals. Our collection is so large that as you walk the halls of the Museum you’re seeing no more than 10% of what we actually own. Keeping track of that many items is a full time job. Actually, it’s four full time jobs.

Meet Emmalee, Kathleen, and Max; all three are Inventory Technicians for the HMNS Collections Department. Their task and mine is to create a record of each item’s location and to tie that location to the item’s file. When you’re dealing with numbers of items that border on the millions that might seem like an impossible task. Thankfully technology impacts all things, including the museum world. Here at the Museum we have software that allows us to document an item’s location down to the very shelf that item rests on.

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Anyone familiar with our Museum and has visited recently can probably guess that just knowing an object’s storage or display location wouldn’t be enough. Objects in storage or on display don’t typically stay in those locations and many of our pieces are rotated in and out based on current exhibitions at the Museum. Keeping track of an artifact or specimen once a curator has decided that it should be displayed or stored is our second responsibility.

So yes, my team and I work in a collections department but it might not be the department you first envision or the job you first thought we did. We work in a department that strives to preserve knowledge for future generations — and tracking dinosaurs really is in our job description.

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HMNS Weekly Happenings

 

Shell bottom-original

 

Check out our New Exhibit!
Gems of the Sea: The Guido T. Poppe Collection

World class. One of a kind. Never before seen. Made by mollusks.

The Philippines consists of over 7,500 islands in Southeast Asia, totaling a land area of approximately 116,000 square miles, and giving the Philippines the longest coastlines of any nation in the world. The Philippine archipelago is known to possess some of the richest marine biodiversity in the world. Along with their unparalleled diversity among the species, marine mollusks from this area are of great interest to science for their peculiar interactions and adaptations in their marine environment

 

Guests adoring the Virgen de Guadalupe shrine.

Guests adoring the Virgen de Guadalupe shrine.

 

Behind The Scenes Tour: La Virgen De Guadalupe
-August 31 at 6:00 PM
-Members Tickets $17, Public Adults tickets $27

The year 1531 fell within a tumultuous period of the history of the Americas. The Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes had successfully toppled the Aztec Empire, and after almost a decade of warfare, disease, and relocation the indigenous people of Mexico were looking for hope; for a more peaceful and enlightened future. Hope was brought to Juan Diego that year, on Tepeyacac hill, by the Virgin de Guadalupe. Your guide will trace the history of Christianity in Mexico from the 700 year reconquest of Spain, to the epic battle for the Aztec Capital, all the way to the miraculous image that gives hope to millions even today.

 

Karaja -- feather mosaic headdress

 

Behind the Scenes Tour of Amazon Life on the River

-August 31 at 6:30 PM
-Members $17, Public Adult Tickets $27

HMNS has an unparalleled Amazonia collection. Featured in our exhibit are objects ranging from ritual masks and headresses used to help commune, and sometimes ward off, spirits, to insterments designed to test young male initiates to their limits of their capacity to tolerate pain, to tools used in the elaborate processes one must go through simply to attain food in the harsh environment of the Amazon. Master Docents will lead guests on a journey into darkness and reveal, not just the exoticism, but the humanity of the amazing people who inhabit one of the most mysterious regions of the world. This a temporary exhibition, so see these wonders while you can.

 

Coming Soon!

Bill_of_Rights_web

 

Amending America: The Bill of Rights

 

Member Opening: Sept. 2, 2016 | Public Opening: Sept. 5, 2016

The Houston Museum of Natural Science will be the premier venue, opening Amending America: The Bill of Rights to the public September 2, 2016 through January 8, 2017. The exhibition will be on view during the 2016 Election period, and to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights in December 2016.
 
 
 
owls

 

An Evening With Owls

 September 16 & 17 | 6:30 p.m.

Whoooo’s looking at you? It’s no owl. It’s an insect! With black spots rimmed by gold and white on their wings that resemble glowing eyes, owl butterflies’ unique camouflage deters potential predators. These big beauties are especially active at dusk. Spend An Evening with Owls at the Cockrell Butterfly Center and meet this fascinating species up close. Watch hundreds whirl and tumble at twilight, then grab a bite nearby and learn more about their behavior.

Food Trucks:
Pita Bites
HTownStEATs

Tickets will be on sale soon!

HMNS Happenings This Week

 

orange-shell-original

Check out our New Exhibit!

Gems of the Sea: The Guido T. Poppe Collection

World class. One of a kind. Never before seen. Made by mollusks.

The Philippines consists of over 7,500 islands in Southeast Asia, totaling a land area of approximately 116,000 square miles, and giving the Philippines the longest coastlines of any nation in the world. The Philippine archipelago is known to possess some of the richest marine biodiversity in the world. Along with their unparalleled diversity among the species, marine mollusks from this area are of great interest to science for their peculiar interactions and adaptations in their marine environment

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Behind the Scenes Tour of Out of the Amazon Life on the River

-August 31 at 6:30 PM

Members $17, Public Adult Tickets $27

HMNS has an unparalleled Amazonia collection. Featured in our exhibit are objects ranging from ritual masks and headresses used to help commune, and sometimes ward off, spirits, to insturments designed to test young male initiates to their limits of their capacity to tolerate pain, to tool useds in the elaborate processes one must go through simply to attain food in the harsh environment of the Amazon. Master Docents will lead guests on a journey into darkness and reveal, not just the exoticism, but the humanity of the amazing people who inhabit one of the most mysterious regions of the world. This a temporary exhibition, so see these wonders while you can.

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Come Celebrate the U.S. National Parks Service’s 100th Anniversary!

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an “organic act” creating the U.S. National Parks Service. Although Yellowstone National Park had already existed for 44 years, this act created a Federal Agency whose purpose was to “protect and regulate the use of Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations”. Basically, this means that for the first time, national parks were guaranteed to be protected and maintained, something that had not always been a sure thing before.

Come celebrate with us and watch MacGillivray Freeman’s National Parks Adventure 3D in our Giant Screen Theater!

Danzantes lined up.

Danzantes lined up.

Behind The Scenes Tour: La Virgen De Guadalupe

-August 31 at 6:00 PM

-Members Tickets $17, Public Adults tickets $27

The year 1531 fell within a tumultuous time in the history of the Americas. The Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes had successfully toppled the Aztec Empire, and after almost a decade of warfare, disease, and relocation the indigenous people of Mexico were looking for hope for a more peaceful and enlightened future. Hope was brought to Juan Diego that year, on Tepeyacac hill, by the Virgin de Guadalupe. Your guide will trace the history of Christianity in Mexico from the 700 year reconquest of Spain, to the epic battle for the Aztec Capital, all that way to the miraculous image that gives hope to millions even today.

navigational-compass-resized

World Trekkers- South Korea

Members Only
August 26th

Featuring:
Crafts and Activities
Cultural Performances
Photo Booth
Face Painting
Balloon Artist
Food Trucks and Cash Bar

Passport:

World Trekkers Passport available for purchase! Have your photo taken, get a sticker for passing through each country and earn stamps for completing crafts.

HMNS Happenings This Week

Mark Your Calendars for these events happening at HMNS August 15 – August 21

Poppe-shell

NEW EXHIBIT OPENING!

Gems of the Sea: The Guido T. Poppe Collection
Opens August 19, 2016

World class. One of a kind. Never before seen. Made by mollusks.

The Philippines consists of over 7,500 islands in Southeast Asia, totaling a land area of approximately 116,000 square miles, and giving the Philippines the longest coastlines of any nation in the world. The Philippine archipelago is known to possess some of the richest marine biodiversity in the world. Along with their unparalleled diversity among the species, marine mollusks from this area are of great interest to science for their peculiar interactions and adaptations in their marine environment.

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Behind-the-Scenes Tour:

Planetarium – Black Holes
Tuesday, August 16, 6 p.m.

Explore the history, physics and mystery of black holes, and explores several of the latest scientific theories about how black holes are formed and where they are hiding now. Witness the bending of light, the skewing of perception, and the dizzying descent into a black hole.

Embark on a journey through one of the most mystifying, awe-inspiring phenomena in the universe with Dr. Carolyn Sumners, HMNS VP of Astronomy, for a special evening viewing of Black Holes in the newly upgraded Tru 8K Burke Baker Planetarium. Click here to learn more.

LECTURE:

Gems of the Sea – Deep Water Shells
Thursday, August 18, 6:30 p.m.

HMNS malacologist Tina Petway will relate how ecology and science benefit from research-quality shell collections. This special evening celebrating the addition of the Poppe Collection to HMNS’ shell collections will include a preview of the Gems of the Sea exhibition as well as tours of select portions of the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, Strake Hall of Malacology and Morian Hall of Paleontology. Click here to learn more.

Erin Mills Cockrell Butterfly Center

 

Last Week of Summer CBC Events 
Wing It | Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
Watch the release of hundreds of new butterflies into the rain forest.

Small Talk | Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Join our Cockrell Butterfly Center team as they take their live collection of insects out “for a walk” during Small Talk.

Friday Feeding Frenzy | 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.
See science in action as snakes, spiders and centipedes enjoy a meal right in front of you!