Exploring our Collection

July 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

Wil Grewe-Mullins, Fernbank Museum’s registrar, took an African jar off the shelf, and the sweet smell of honey filled my nose as I looked inside. It has been years since this particular pot has been used as a honey jar, yet the aroma lingers.

Fernbank Museum has a collections room filled with a wealth of artifacts in prime condition, such as the African honey jar. The collections room is home to thousands of the Museum’s artifacts that are currently off display.

Why aren’t those artifacts on display for everyone to see? Well, sometimes they are—just not all at once. For one thing, we don’t have room to display every single item. We have more than a million artifacts, and you wouldn’t be able to see the intricate details if we had them stacked on tight shelves. It is also better for the artifacts to be stored in the collections room where we are able to maintain a steady temperature and relative humidity; and keep them clean and as close to their original condition as possible.

One artifact had me jumping out of my shoes—a shark tooth about the size of my hand. I have been terrified of sharks since the first time I heard the “Jaws” theme music:  ‘du-du, du-du, du-du,’ and this tooth did nothing to calm my fears. How big was that shark?! And are there still sharks that size swimming in the ocean? Wil told me the tooth was from a prehistoric Megalodon shark that was probably greater than 50 feet.

These intriguing items in collections don’t just sit and wait to be displayed. Archaeologists, scientists, and students visit Fernbank to research and study the items. Fernbank’s collection offers them hands on learning and a unique discovery experience as they work with the actual objects. 

Artifact encounters allow Museum guests to see the items up close. During artifact encounters, Fernbank educators use the objects to teach guests and classes about the past, explore different cultures, and discover new things.

Some items from the collections room go on display when the Museum hosts special exhibitions featuring the artifacts. The African jars, in particular, have been displayed several times during Black History Month.

From time to time, other museums and attractions will borrow our collections’ items for their special exhibitions. The Atlanta airport currently has one of our dinosaur models on view in their big rotunda, so thanks to our outstanding collection, people from around the world get to experience a little piece of Fernbank Museum while they travel.

-Andrea Lowery, Marketing & Communications Intern

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At Fernbank Museum, there’s much more than dinosaurs and giant-screen films. Even with our website, e-newsletters, Facebook pages and Twitter updates, there’s still a lot we’d like to share with you. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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