Small But Mighty

Amazing specimens abound in small museum collections.

Amazing specimens abound in small museum collections.

What’s your favorite natural history museum? Most people will name one of the big museums -The Smithsonian, The Field Museum, The American Museum. These museums are the heavy-hitters of the museum world; they have huge and diverse collections, their researchers tackle the big issues in their fields, they are destinations for locals and visitors alike, and they’re names are on the tip of the populations’ collective tongue.

But, what people forget, or may not know, is that small museums can house some truly incredible specimens, and that their collections fuel lines of research big and small. Burpee Museum falls into this category. Burpee’s specimens are used by researchers from near and far and in projects big and small. This week alone, Burpee Museum has hosted Dr. Thomas Carr from Carthage College and Dr. Mark Goodwin from the University of California Museum of Paleontology to research our flagship specimens “Jane” the juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex and “Homer” the sub-adult Triceratops, as well as Joel Greenberg one of the most prominent Passenger Pigeon researchers in North America. Burpee Museum shares this rank with small regional museums, city museums, and some small college museums. These museums’ collections can supplement data gathered from other institutions, and many drive their own lines of research. They are small but mighty.

This summer Burpee Museum was fortunate to host a collections and exhibits intern from Beloit College, Stephanie Morgan. Stephanie worked in the museum’s collection building the frame work for a new, digital collections database. She also created a movie about the importance of small museum collections, check it out below!

 

50 Years of the Wilderness Act

Wilderness 50
A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.
- The definition of a wilderness area, eligible for protection under the Wilderness Act as written originally by Howard Zahniser.
The Wilderness Act was originally signed into law on September 3, 1964 and it is the premier piece of conservation legislation in the United States. It provides a way for the general population to work with congress to nominate unique and beloved wilderness areas and protect them at an especially high level.  It has also protected, to date, more than 110 million acres in the United States. These protected areas also provide crucial habitat for native species, including threatened and endangered species.
In celebration of the Wilderness Act, get out and enjoy your favorite wild place!

Tell us what you think!

Jane VectorOk, folks today’s post is a bit different from the rest. Today we’d like to hear from you! Museums are continually trying to learn how to better serve people, and Burpee Museum is no exception. To learn more about people’s preferences and how they utilize museums, we’ll periodically post some questions here on the blog. Please take a minute to complete the four questions below. If you have additional comments, feel free to leave them as a comment to this post!

Project Passenger Pigeon

Burpee Museum is proud to be part of Project Passenger Pigeon, a movement to commemorate and learn from the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon 100 years ago. Project Passenger Pigeon encompasses all aspects of the birds’ demise and seeks to educate people about current conservation issues. As a part of the Project Passenger Pigeon, the museum will be installing an exhibit that combines exhibit work provided by Project Passenger Pigeon and specimens from the museum’s permanent collection.

Joel Greenberg's "A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction" will be on sale at the lecture and opening!

Joel Greenberg’s “A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction” will be on sale at the lecture and opening!

The exhibit will open officially on September 9, 2014 with a Mahlburg Scholars Lecture by Joel Greenberg. Joel is the author of “A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction” as well as a lifelong birder and naturalist. He will be speaking about the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon 100 years ago and why it is important to us now. Please join us for his lecture on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 7pm, doors will open at 6pm. Admission to the lecture is $8 for adults (13 and up), $7 for kids (4-12) and free to Burpee Members; admission includes general admission to the museum.

Virtual Field Trips

Not the mostly-static, 360-degree photos of museum galleries that took forever to load on dial-up internet of the early 2000’s but live, interactive virtual field trips that engage participants directly and put them in direct contact with experts and educators.

Scott Williams,Director of Science and Exhibits, talks about "Jane" the juvenile T.rex's teeth during a live virtual field trip.

Scott Williams,Director of Science and Exhibits, talks about “Jane” the juvenile T.rex’s teeth during a live virtual field trip.

 

There is a great movement at all levels of education and instruction to help students develop their critical thinking skills, to experiment and learn from their mistakes, and to understand how they learn and to be able to teach themselves. This movement is driven by many factors including, but not limited to, increasing technological turnover and the need for a workforce that will be able to continually learn new technologies to stay current and employable, a need for capable and inquisitive minds in STEM fields, and the staggering amount of digital content available to anyone on an almost unlimited basis.

Here at Burpee Museum, we realized that we needed to try something new. Although our on-site tours are met with excellent reviews, they are traditional, in-person field trips. And, because they are in-person field trips, the participants are limited by their proximity to the museum. The solution was live, virtual field trips that highlight the museum’s collections, and that can be tailored to each specific groups needs.

Virtual field trips allow students, near and far, to directly connect with the museum and iconic specimens like “Jane” and “Homer”  and ask questions of our museum educators and experts, while utilizing technology that is familiar to them. Keep an eye out for more content (and maybe even a mini-tour!) on the Burpee Museum Facebook Page.

If you would like to know more about Virtual Field Trips at Burpee Museum please visit the Virtual Field Trips page or contact Sheila Rawlings, Director of Education and Programs, using the contact form below. Please feel free to share this post with anyone you know who might be interested in connecting their group or class with Burpee Museum through Virtual Field Trips!

Lightening Strikes and Expedition Updates

Steve the Sloth says "Watch for Falling Debris!" Fortunately only the chimney was damaged, and things are now back up and running!

Steve the Sloth says “Watch for Falling Debris!” Fortunately only the chimney was damaged, and things are now back up and running!

Things have been busy in the field at at the museum! A chimney on museum’s administrative building, the Barnes Mansion, was struck by lightening. The chimney was damaged and the email server was fried. So, if you’ve tried to email anyone at the museum in the past few days and your email bounced back, please try again!

The Week 1 Field Crew, thanks for all your hard work!

The Week 1 Field Crew, thanks for all your hard work!

The news from the field is much more fun, the field crews have made some exciting finds at both new and old sites! The braincase and a pterygoid were found at the “Garny” Triceratops site by Steve Simpson and the Highland Community College crew.

Another Baenid Turtle found at the Ninja Turtle site!

Another Baenid Turtle found at the Ninja Turtle site!

Another Baenid Turtle was found at the Ninja Turtle site.

Possibly a new juvenile T. rex site!

Possibly a new juvenile T. rex site!

A juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur was found while prospecting – crews are going back this week to investigate and see if there is more there!

Highway to Hell Creek 2014 is underway!

Burpee Museum Field Crews have been working near Ekalaka, Montana preparing for the 2014 Highway to Hell Creek field season for the past two weeks. Already they have opened the “Pearl” site and have unearthed more of the rare Oviraptor, as well as opened the Double L Triceratops site and the Ninja Turtle site. Hopes are high for lots of great finds this field season!

L to R: Simon Masters, Gene Sullivan, Steve Landi, Hillary Parks, and Maureen Mall pose after finishing opening the Double L Triceratops site.

L to R: Simon Masters, Gene Sullivan, Steve Landi, Hillary Parks, and Maureen Mall pose after finishing opening the Double L Triceratops site.

They have also attended and presented at the second annual Dino Shindig at the Carter County Museum among many other very notable paleontologists. The first round of expedition participants arrived at Camp Needmore on Sunday and will be digging with the Burpee Crew all week.

Camp Needmore, the field crew's home for the next few weeks.

Camp Needmore, the field crew’s home for the next few weeks.

Stay tuned to the Burpee Facebook Page for updates about our finds from the field!