MUSEUM ARCHIVES

In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm a huge museum nerd. I haven't dedicated much of my blog to posts about what I get to see behind the scenes, so I want to start a new series. I can't promise that it'll be a regular thing, but I do believe that these are things that should be shared!

On average, about 1% of any museum's holdings are ever on display to the public. Most museums have archives that are viewable by staff and volunteers, some museums have portions that people aren't allowed to photograph (and some portions that are completely off-limits to anyone but a curator) while other museums offer behind-the-scenes tours. As a museum volunteer as well as a traveling educator, I get to peek at things that a lot of people don't get to see EVER because I work closely with collections managers, education department heads, and curatorial staff.

Unfortunately I wasn't great at keeping track of digital files because I didn't realize how much those photos would eventually mean to me, but here are a few random images before I delve into museum-specific archive posts. A few were taken on old film cameras, but I love them because they're so unique.

Left: human fetus. Right: chimpanzee fetus. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: human fetus. Right: chimpanzee fetus. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: cyclops deer fetus. Right: six-legged kitten. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: cyclops deer fetus. Right: six-legged kitten. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: two-toed sloth study skins. Right: platypus study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: two-toed sloth study skins. Right: platypus study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left and right: pangolin study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left and right: pangolin study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Sambar selfie at the Houston Museum of Natural History - December 2013

Sambar selfie at the Houston Museum of Natural History - December 2013

Posing with an elephant tusk in the educational archives of the Audubon Zoo - April 2014.

Posing with an elephant tusk in the educational archives of the Audubon Zoo - April 2014.

Skulls and skull replicas - Audubon Zoo, April 2014

Skulls and skull replicas - Audubon Zoo, April 2014

Archival study skins from birds via the Burke Museum at University of Washington, on loan to the Henry Art Gallery as part of artist Ann Hamilton's The Common S E N S E - a large-scale installation for which I was a guest speaker on sourcing and taxidermy in education.

Archival study skins from birds via the Burke Museum at University of Washington, on loan to the Henry Art Gallery as part of artist Ann Hamilton's The Common S E N S E - a large-scale installation for which I was a guest speaker on sourcing and taxidermy in education.

I'm sure I'll share more as time goes on. I've been hoarding my large collections of archival photos but I didn't know where to put these one-offs, so I hope you've enjoyed them!

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JANUARY (LIFE LATELY)

Well, we're a month into 2016 and it's definitely off to a much different start than I expected. I don't share a ton about my personal life but I am absolutely #blessed (as much as I love sarcasm, I really do feel so lucky) to have so many wonderful people who are my perpetual cheerleaders.

My broken rib is finally starting to heal, or maybe I'm just getting used to the pain, but I'm finally able to pick things up and dance again which is a plus. However, I suffer the perils of being a person who is constantly injuring herself and now I'm missing half a fingernail from a leg-shaving incident. With the amount of times per day that I run into things or draw blood, you'd think my life was an audition for a one-woman version of The Three Stooges.

Riff Ratt has been having seizures and now has a permanent head tilt. He's now over a year old and since feeder rats typically only live between twelve and twenty-four months, I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for that.

I taught myself how to (badly) make mochi ice cream and didn't take photos but imagine some magenta goo-covered ice cream that tastes like roses and that's all you need to know.

Finally, I spent the last week of this month preparing for and filming a really cool project - I can't wait to share the end result, but for now here are some photos I took at the Nature Museum during location scouting with the producers.

I hope everyone else has had a great start to this year, and that February has just as much in store for us! ALSO this is a reminder to make sure you are registered AND that you take the time to vote in your state's primary elections. If you don't know how, Google your state + your political affiliation + primary election registration. Even if I don't agree with your opinion, I will still encourage you to fight for your right to vote!

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Mickey Alice Kwapis is a Chicago-based taxidermist and craftswoman.
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