PAGE 4 / Sunday, July 25, 2010 Tallahassee Democrat / TLH How to dust a mastodon By Amanda Personett SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT As you walk into the Museum of Florida History and around the ﬁrst bend, standing before you in all its skeletal splendor is an honest-to-goodness mastodon. The placard below the enormous creature tells us: “When mastodons lived, 65 million years after the dinosaurs became extinct, most of Florida was underwater.” It’s very difﬁcult to imagine such a massive stretch of time. If you stand there long enough, looking at the bones in the mastodon’s toes and the massive rib cage, all kinds of questions come to mind. How did he hold his head up with those tusks attached to his face? Is it just your imagination or does his tail really look like a human spine? And how do you dust this guy? “Sometimes I’m on a ladder, sometimes on a lift, sometimes with a long pole and sometimes with a vacuum,” senior museum registrar Kieran Orr explains. Orr has been working at the museum since 1995 when she was a history student at FSU. In her current position, she’s responsible for much more than fossil hygiene. Involved in each exhibition from concept to closing, Orr does research, locates artifacts and visits other museums to see them. She helps design exhibits and completes tons ARTS BY THE NUMBERS: Museum of Florida History O Number of years of Florida history represented: 500 O Number of pairs of white cotton gloves used by staff each year: 125 O Number of times each pair of cotton gloves is washed: 10 O Number of objects in museum’s entire collection: 45,000 O Number of historical objects on display at any given time: 3,000 O Number of years the museum has been accredited: 24 O Percentage of accredited museums of all the museums in US: 1 Special to the Democrat Senior museum registrar Kieran Orr has been working at the museum since 1995 when she was a history student at FSU. of paperwork. Orr estimates that each object borrowed from another museum for exhibition requires 30 pieces of paper — legal documents, insurance forms and the like. “There are about 500 artifacts loaned for a single exhibit,” she says. “To say it’s a lot of paperwork is an understatement.” Yet she still has time to manage all aspects of the museum’s collections, from legal and ethical implications to security. Sitting in her ofﬁce behind password-coded locks, Orr speaks of maritime laws and sovereignty laws. She has one interesting tidbit after another: “Did you know there were 15 different cultures that lived in Florida before the Seminoles?” “If gold goes down with a military ship — and the shipwreck’s recovered — the gold belongs to the country of the ship’s origin.” “We use special strips inside the closed display cases to keep the silver from tarnishing. See this strip? I put it in here years ago.” The silver looks recently polished. “Can you imagine what the ships that brought people to the New World smelled like? Imagine 300 people living in a 500-square-foot apartment for three months — without taking a single bath. That’s the modern equivalent.” Orr’s last reference is to the museum’s newest permanent exhibit, slated for opening in its initial phase in February. It will deal with the human experience of crossing the Atlantic between 1513 and 1821. “We’ll use our team approach,” she explains, “with a curator, a registrar, a historian, an artist/designer and a publicist working together to create an overall plan, an education plan. We’ll then design and fabricate the displays — even make our own mannequins (of unbleached muslin) and craft our own special mounts and hooks.” There’s a lot of buzz about the museum’s newest visiting exhibition, the Smithsonian Institution’s “NASA/ ART: 50 Years of Exploration.” This collection showcases art, science and history through the work of such wellknown artists as Annie Liebovitz, William Wegman, Andy Warhol, Jamie Wyeth and Norman Rockwell. See the TLH cover story for more on that exhibit. “To be part of an institution that brings so much to its community,” Orr says, “and to help tell Florida’s story from the 1500s to the Space Age — that, for me, is a challenge and a dream come true.” Sunday, July 25, 2010 / PAGE 5 TLH / Tallahassee Democrat A graphic designer trapped in a Nobel laureate’s body We Buy Antique Oriental Rugs & ANTIQUES 9 Miles West of Capital Circle on US 90 (850) 539-8893 By Amanda Personett 01&/4"5t46/ 12-6 SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT OSir Harold “Harry” Kroto, Nobel laureate and Francis Eppes professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU “In school, I particularly enjoyed art, geography, gymnastics and woodwork. My art teacher, Mr. Higginson, tutored me at lunch times or after school. (But) for reasons which I am not sure I understand, I gravitated towards chemistry, physics and mathematics. “Art was really my passion. I became art editor of the student magazine, specializing in cover design and the screen-printed advertising posters. As a research student, I won a Sunday Times book jacket design competition. Later one of my designs was featured in ‘Modern Publicity,’ an international annual of the best in professional graphic design. I consider this to be one of my best publications. “I managed to do enough chemistry — between designing covers and posters, paint- ARNOLD’S ORIENTAL RUGS “Art was really my passion. I became art editor of the student magazine, specializing in cover design and the screen-printed advertising posters.” Special to the Democrat ing murals and playing the guitar — to get a Ph.D. in 1964, and some job offers. “I remember thinking I would give myself ﬁve years to make a go of research and teaching. If it was not working out, I would re-train to do graphic design, my ﬁrst love. “By 1974, I had carried out research which was the start of my role in the discovery of C60 … . The discov- ery in 1985 caused me to shelve my dream of setting up a studio specializing in scientiﬁc graphic design. “That was the downside of our discovery — that I realized I might never fulﬁll my graphics aspirations. But the creation of the ﬁrst molecules with carbon/phosphorus double bonds and the discovery of the carbon chains in space seemed (to me) like nice contributions.” YOU GOTTA HAVE ARTS The Council on Culture & Arts takes a weekly look at the fascinating world of the arts and culture in our community. We tell stories of people who feel they owe their non-arts related success to the arts. We publish arts and culture news. We share “I-didn’t-know-that!” facts about local arts and culture. Send us your suggestions for artist profiles, news items (things like awards, honors and Sir Harry’s “nice contributions” led to his Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 with Robert F. Curl Jr. and Richard E. Smalley. COCA reminds you that our children need an education that includes the arts to help them reach their dreams. They deserve it. ODo you have a story about the arts’ influence on your non-arts career? If so, please e-mail [email protected] cocanet.org. competition successes), story ideas or curious facts and numbers. E-mail Andrea Personett at [email protected] Visit COCA’s websites for more information about COCA and the arts in this part of the world — www.cocanet.org, www.morethanyouthought.com, www.firstfridaytallahassee.com, www. the-arts-exchange.com.
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