Like most collections-based museums, the Western Science Center has far more specimens than we could ever put on exhibit. We want to make our collections and procedures accessible to as many people as we can, but there are all kinds of technical, financial, and security hurdles. Even so, we’re always exploring new ways to accomplish this, and today we’re launching our latest effort — a fossil preparation demonstration area on the exhibit floor.
Many natural history museums now have “fish-bowl”-style preparation labs so that visitors can observe staff and volunteers cleaning specimens. We hope to open such a lab one day at WSC, but that will take a lot of time and money and I’m not willing to wait. So we’ve put together a rolling preparation cart that our lab volunteers can take to the exhibit floor to do their work while answering questions and giving visitors an up-close look at the fossils.
Two of our lab volunteers, Phyllis and Margit, have agreed to help us test out this new system by doing their prep work on the exhibit floor. Their initial specimen is an articulated series of seven Bison vertebrae that were partially prepared but are still in their field jacket.
We’re going to be testing and refining this system over the next few months. The preparation cart will be on the exhibit floor whenever we have staff or volunteers available to do preparation work, initially on Tuesdays from 10:00-12:00 but with additional hours to be added later.