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!

LOOKING FOR A SPECIFIC BLOG POST? CHECK OUT MY ARCHIVES HERE.

HIDDEN LAKE GARDENS - 35MM

Hidden Lake Gardens is an incredible treasure hidden in the Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan. The land was donated to Michigan State University in 1945 and it has become a destination for plant and nature enthusiasts alike. I remember visiting as a kid, and my favorite was the Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) which would move when something brushed up against it. I returned and took my Canon AE-1 with some Kodak T-Max film. I developed the film and scanned the photos myself at home (in college, not recently) so they're a little rough around the edges but I do enjoy grain and imperfections. It's a reminder of how far I've come.

Here are my photos of the bonsai collection:

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I've always been fascinated by bonsai trees. I had one when I was a kid (inspired by the ones pictured here, actually) but I definitely had no semblance of a green thumb. I killed the bonsai accidentally and replaced it with a venus flytrap, which I fed chocolate to as an "experiment" and which subsequently died.

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I'm still learning the quirks of this camera since it's so old and there were so many things to factor in - the overcast skies, a new type of film, and not knowing if any of the adjustments on the camera were doing what they were supposed to. In addition, it's hard to develop your own film, so I'm quite proud of how these turned out. Even better are the photos I took inside the greenhouse.

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I always save the best for last and this final photo is my favorite. I think they're tiny oranges or tangerines or something, but I just love how it turned out!

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I'm really looking forward to spending more time photographing plants. Since I moved to Chicago I know there are more than a few conservatories awaiting me - my favorite so far is the Lincoln Park Conservatory because there are dinosaurs hidden all over the fern house. I also live in an apartment on a double lot with a huge garden, a bee hive, and a peach tree (which is blooming this year!) so maybe I'll have to hone my skills. Until next time!

LOOKING FOR A SPECIFIC BLOG POST? CHECK OUT MY ARCHIVES HERE.

MISTAKES ON FILM - 35MM

I enjoy shooting film with a good old-fashioned plastic drugstore camera. A few years ago, Walgreens had an amazing deal. For something like $29 you could buy a "lifetime" camera - a plastic camera that came pre-loaded with Walgreens' own brand of ISO 400 film. Each time you shot a roll and brought it to Walgreens to be developed, they would load a new roll into it. I figured out a few hacks - I bought two cameras so I could get more free film, I figured out how to unload the film still unexposed so I could use it in my other cameras, and I hacked the plastic cameras themselves for light leaks and double-exposures. It came with a wrist strap, so sometimes the camera would fire accidentally. This is what I ended up with over the years - a series of "mistakes" that I've actually grown to love.

Occasionally when film is being processed, the ends get scanned, including stickers.

Occasionally when film is being processed, the ends get scanned, including stickers.

The skirt of my favorite dress, while I was walking to Oslo Sushi (RIP) in Detroit.

The skirt of my favorite dress, while I was walking to Oslo Sushi (RIP) in Detroit.

I was actually trying to take a photo of graffiti on a peeling cement column in an abandoned building and ended up with a photo of my friend Aaron and his dog Bear instead. This is one of my favorite photos EVER.

I was actually trying to take a photo of graffiti on a peeling cement column in an abandoned building and ended up with a photo of my friend Aaron and his dog Bear instead. This is one of my favorite photos EVER.

I don't know what this was supposed to be.

I don't know what this was supposed to be.

A kiddie pool in my parents' backyard.

A kiddie pool in my parents' backyard.

Lindsey's butt, circa the few years when she refused to wear underpants no matter what. The hand is not hers.

Lindsey's butt, circa the few years when she refused to wear underpants no matter what. The hand is not hers.

A sunset during traffic, which was taken with a single exposure. I'm not sure what happened but I really dig the effect.

A sunset during traffic, which was taken with a single exposure. I'm not sure what happened but I really dig the effect.

A rock.

A rock.

I dropped my camera on the cement, inadvertently taking a portrait of my lovely foot while also causing light leaks.

I dropped my camera on the cement, inadvertently taking a portrait of my lovely foot while also causing light leaks.

I think this happened when I dropped my camera at a friend's wedding and also forgot to wind the film a full frame first.

I think this happened when I dropped my camera at a friend's wedding and also forgot to wind the film a full frame first.

This is Matt. Or maybe Satan. No idea where the hellfire effect came from.

This is Matt. Or maybe Satan. No idea where the hellfire effect came from.

The end of a roll, complete with a photo of the entrance of the Walgreens store where I had bought the camera and was getting my film developed.

The end of a roll, complete with a photo of the entrance of the Walgreens store where I had bought the camera and was getting my film developed.

I adore experimenting with film and seeing what the results are. Often they aren't what I expect, especially when I manipulate both the film and the camera a whole bunch, but some of my "mistakes" are actually a few of my favorites. While Walgreens no longer sells this camera, you can buy similar reusable plastic cameras on eBay or you can try experimenting with disposable cameras. If you send a roll of film to be developed, make sure you let the technician know that they shouldn't be expecting a roll of perfect images and that they should scan every frame anyway!

OIL PUDDLE RAINBOWS - 35MM

When it rains and oil leaks turn into thin layers on the tops of rain puddles, visually amazing things happen. After a quick Google search I learned that the "rainbow" you see has everything to do with varying thicknesses of the oil as well as the angle from which you view the oil spill. There is actually a lot of math and science that goes into explaining this phenomenon (if you want to call it that) but I just like them because they're pretty, and I spent a rainy week documenting them using my Yashica T4 Super and some old Walgreens brand 35mm film.

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I must have looked so strange, running around on rainy days trying to capture every oil spill on camera. I know this is such a silly post, but I just think these photos are beautiful and if I don't get to see a real rainbow in the sky after a thunderstorm at least I can look down at parking lots for some half-assed ones!