This was almost 10 years ago. Where does the time go?

This was the first thing I saw as I walked down the long corridor, with a skylight above it, the light beaming down onto Winged Victory like she was coming alive; like I was walking on sacred ground, toward this magnificent sculpture and the artworks that it beckoned to. It is monumental. I was blown away and I took so many photos of it in an attempt to preserve its impact. I had to get a picture of myself with it. The only clean clothes I had were what I was wearing (the skirt and scarf I bought two days prior in Barcelona). I was totally exhausted, drained, running out of money, and yet simultaneously overwhelmed with excitement to actually see the masterpieces I have loved for so long from a distance. I think I cried when I saw the Raft of the Medusa in person. I know I cried when I saw the Oath of the Horatii. I was walking amongst Michelangelos, Raphaels, Davids, Gericaults, Canovas… I was in their spaces, examining them, feeling probably what their contemporary viewers felt. I was being seduced by Cupid & Psyche; called to action by the Oath of the Horatii; influenced into meditative stillness by Da Vinci. How could I leave? 

Collection’s Highlight: “Clorinda” 

I like big sleeves and I cannot lie, you other tumblr folks can’t deny…No date in the database for this print.  I believe our friend “Clorinda” is wearing a very ca. 1830s dress, but it is unknown when the print was made. I am sure somone who knows the finer points of 19th century lithography could date this; however, I am not this person. 

Clorinda, Date Unknown, D.W. Kellogg and Company, H: 9in x W 7.25in. The Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Josephine M. Skinner, N0050.1953. 


The Brain Scoop:

1.5 years ago, around the time I first started working at The Field Museum, I was talking to our director of exhibitions about Brain Scoop episode ideas and he mentioned the unusual fact that there was an empty diorama space in the Hall of Asian Mammals that had sat unfinished for about 87 years. We kicked around the idea of crowd sourcing the money to complete the space, as a way to engage this audience of Brain Scoop fans from all over the globe and finish something that was started almost a century ago. 

Well, I’m thrilled (and terrified, and nervous, and elated) to let you know that today is the day. 


We are officially live with our first ever Indiegogo campaign: PROJECT HYENA DIORAMA. 

This won’t happen without your help. We don’t magically have the money tucked away anywhere to finish this - it’s on us. Me, and you, and natural history museum fans everywhere. Please share this, #HelpTheHyenas, or consider donating. 

Cheers, everybody! 


Corvus corax: Common Raven Skeletal Study

Ink; Colored pencil; Copic markers; Photoshop

This is a commission completed for one of my lovely coworkers at the Museum of Zoology in Ann Arbor. I studied a number of Research Skeletons, Taxidermy Mounts, and a few dead Ravens (taxidermy skins in progress) to figure all of this anatomy out.

A few changes happened between the paper version (that I gave to the commissioner) and this one. I had the Birds Director and some awesome Art/Bird Experts double check me on anatomy features and made the necessary changes digitally. I learned quite a bit about Bird Skeletons doing this. Overall, it was a really fun project!

Over the next week or so I’ll post a breakdown of my progress shots.


Grand Stables

Chantilly, France

“Built by Prince Louis-Henri de Bourbon in 1719, the 180-meter building was the most impressive stable in the world, housing 250 horses and 300 hunting dogs.  

In 1982, master rider Yves Bienaimé helped create a horse museum adjoining the Grand Stables, featuring an eclectic mix of equine artworks and a chance for the public to see rare species of ponies. 

But by the turn of the 21st century, the building had become a worn shadow of its former glory. That was until the Aga Khan IV, billionaire and spiritual leader to the world’s Nizari Ismaili Muslims, became involved in an ambitious plan to restore the elegant structure. 

The historic site also has 30 breeds of horses, with trainers in distinctive red jackets put on regular performances for visitors.”

Read more on the history of the Grand Stables in Chantilly here

(via Billionaire spiritual leader Aga Khan funds royal horse stables museum -

The breast feathers of many birds are arranged in rather organized lines. I get my thumbs wet and spread them apart to expose the sternum before making the first incision - an early step in preparing a skin for the collection. This brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) was a window kill, and now is a valuable research specimen at The Field Museum!

Cataloged this week…

Chairs should not be this complicated.

Anonymous Submitted: 

My museum, like many others, has stools like these that people can borrow during their visits. 

Sometimes, people bring their own folding stools, like this one. We’re cool with that. We get it. 

But today, a dude literally rolled one of these through the front door. 

He refused our offer to lend him one of the complimentary wheelchairs we have available for guests to borrow, and insisted that we let him roll this busted up office chair from gallery to gallery. 


While we were debating what to do that wouldn’t cause a scene, incident, or lawsuit, he was in the galleries pretty much doing this. 

So in the end we assigned a docent to accompany him from gallery to gallery, with one responsibility: make sure he didn’t roll the chair into a piece of artwork. 

And then after work we celebrated “A weird thing happened in the museum today,” in the traditional fashion. 

Project Hyena Diorama is a success - we’re building a diorama!

Last night, Project Hyena Diorama came to a close, bringing in 91% of our goal*: more than $155k raised by 1,811 generous people over the last 6.5 weeks will place these striped hyenas in their new diorama home. :D

This project has meant so much to me - it’s been in the works since fall of 2013 and has consumed a lot of my thoughts and energy over the past few years. Often I wondered if I was completely misguided in my belief that people would care about striped hyenas, a historical figure like Carl Akeley, contributing to a permanent museum exhibition, and our ability to generate enough interest to make such a project a success. I am so relieved to know I am not alone in caring so much about what others may see as old, dusty, dead, and irrelevant. 

Words cannot express my gratitude to every person who helped us share our campaign - whether your contribution was a like or a repost, or you adopted a hyena - your support means the world to me. And a massive thank-you to the Project Hyena Diorama team - a special shout-out to my right-hand lady Rachel Dunbar, and Tom McNamara for all of their hard work. This would not have happened without them!

I hope you will come visit The Field Museum sometime in the future, once the diorama is built and unveiled early next year. And even if Chicago isn’t on your radar in 2016, rest assured knowing Akeley’s striped hyenas will live on display for decades to come. 

Thank you, Internet. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 


*The remainder will be made up through continued offline donations cuz yeah we’re so stinkin’ close