It isn't the North Pole, but Minnesota is a lot closer than Oklahoma. Here are some of the latest production photos from the team at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
That's a full-size guy in the photo, working on our interactive archaeological dig! (He's not an elf or anything.) And that may look like snow, but the landscape will be dirt-colored when it's finished. Visitors will actually be able to walk into this scene and dig for mammoth bones. (Guess he could be an ancient human then....) No, not real mammoth bones, but some pretty convincing copies.
The whole scene, when it's ready to be shipped, will be separated into modular pieces and trucked to the Museum of the Great Plains.
And here's how the elves, I mean technicians, make the fake bones.
Look, in the upper right corner! A steam iron! Or is it a 3D scanner? See here and here. Actually, this is a mount for artifacts from our collection. Probably for archaeological materials that will be exhibited in the same area as the interactive dig.
And I have no idea what's going on here, but I'm worried. So is the elf on the left. He's yelling at his friend in the blue shirt, the really strong guy holding that lady up in the air, trying to warn him that a third fellow is throwing a spear at him! I'm afraid this ends badly. Minnesota is a dangerous place to work apparently. But all the rest of the people look happy. (Scroll down to "People of the Plains" here.)
A few weeks ago, I noticed a large, metal antler in our workshop. I recognized it as coming from a sculpture outside, and meant to ask other staff about it later (no one else was around that evening). But I kept forgetting. It even took me a while to remember to go outside and look at the sculpture. (You probably don't want me watching your house while you're on vacation.)
Eventually, I thought to ask. So this is what happened. It had rained most of May. We had a lot of high wind, and a whole lot of rain. So much rain that a persistent drought finally broke. Lakes that were mostly empty, having been drawn down the last few years, were literally filled to overflowing in a two-week space. It was hard to believe.
The ground, of course, got pretty saturated. The soil beneath the elk's feet loosened, and even with secure anchors, the sculpture toppled one night in the wind. And so the beast fell on its side, its nose buried in the dirt. And one antler came loose.
Now that the soil is drying, it's going to take five or six people to push the elk back up on its feet, after the new anchors have been fastened. Then the lost antler will be reattached to the elk's head. And I won't be seeing it lying oddly in the shop anymore.
The biggest thing to happen lately is carpet. Let's take a look. But first we'll have to get there....
This is the entrance to the gallery from the lobby. Near the center, to the right of the pillar, you can see that the windows have been blocked. Eventually, a mural will cover the wall on the other side, and so the windows had to go.
Our maintenance man told me that I must walk on these mats to keep from tracking dust into other parts of the building. Yes sir! I make sure I stay on the mats if I think he's around.
The boiled-celery color of these walls would concern me--if I didn't know how the introductory gallery will look when it's finished. Murals, graphics, exhibits, and activities will fill up the space and make it look great. It'll be hard for me to fixate on the wall color then.
The Fordson tractor is just kind of hanging out in what we used to call "Gallery B," but which will become the "People of the Plains" exhibit in the future. The tractor will end up in the boiled-celery gallery, in front of a mural where the windows to the lobby used to be.
Above, on the left, you can see how the furrdowns are being painted to match the walls. It actually creates kind of a neat effect, changing the feel of the space somehow. In the middle photo and on the right, you can see the upper wall (white) behind the curvature of the tornado theater wall (blue). That white space will get a menacing-clouds mural of its own.
(Top, left) I'm surprised the maintenance man doesn't make us wear vacuum cleaners on our feet to keep from tracking up the carpet. (Top, middle) The "line of demarcation" between Phase 1 carpet (complete) and Phase 2 carpet (it'll be a few weeks). (Top, right) Looking toward the west end of the main gallery. (Bottom, left) Looking toward the southeast corner of the main gallery. That big, white, curved wall will have murals on both sides. (Bottom, middle) Close-up showing the ramps to what will be the Council Saddle Shop (left) and the General Store (right). (Bottom, right) The southwest corner of the main gallery, which will be devoted to the Tingley Collection exhibit.
A rough gang of equipment lurking in a corner of the gallery.... Quick, throw down your alfalfa hay and peanut vines! Run, run! Before you're sprayed with kerosene! (Mug shots of the alfalfa thresher, left; oil wagon, center; and peanut thresher, right.) When they clean up the neighborhood, this area will become "Prehistory."
Last week, to make way for the carpet, we had to move the windmill. Here it is in its final location, after the carpet was laid.
We had to move the firetruck too, which weighs several tons. I say "we," but really Brian Smith did it all by himself, as this picture clearly shows.
Here's the firetruck in its final location. You guessed it, there's going to be a mural behind the firetruck! Murals on both sides of that curved wall, too.
A crop circle in the gallery! What does it mean? Very strange.
And finally, here's another mystery. There's a secret room in the new gallery. This is what it looks like inside. But I'm not going to tell you where it is. Geez, I just said "secret," right?
The project to remodel the main gallery began almost four years ago. Exhibit planning--in a detailed way--began about two years ago. A lot of ideas have come and gone in that time. A few, not quite serious, have been good for a laugh. I think of them as my, "Someday, when I have my own museum...," ideas. You know, like when you were a kid, and other people didn't want to do what you wanted, and so you'd exclaim, "Well, someday...!" [sniffle]
So here's the sad little buffalo from my April 13 post. Click on the image above (opens a link) and then tell me you don't think it's a good idea for background music. No matter, because someday when I have my own museum, it's definitely going to happen. [sniffle]
Big Red got a ride in the back of Brian's truck to the MGP, after welcoming people for over 40 years to the Council Saddle Shop on 2nd Street. His new home (bottom right) will be above one of the shops on the boardwalk of "Town Life" at the museum. Inside visitors will be able to try their hand at leatherworking and learn about one of Lawton's beloved businessmen, Howard Council. For the time being, Big Red is guarding the overhead door to the Special Collections area.
Oh, you must never trust me with your secrets. Because I continue to be amused by this clip, I decided to post it. Enjoy.
Our new exhibits are designed to be accessible to all ages, from children to adults. This video proves the even the creativity-challenged can appreciate an interactive like the tracing activity that will complement the hide painting we'll be exhibiting. [See May 14 post, "Why paint a hide?"]
The individual who made this drawing and video will remain completely anonymous. Well, if you don't read the name or listen to the narration, that is.
You can read the article from today's Lawton Constitution, about moving the horse from the Council Saddle Shop to the museum, here. Thanks, Tiffany!
As a part of the renovation, we're also remodeling the foyer and store area of the museum. This is due almost entirely to a generous grant from the Terry K Bell Charitable Trust (Lawton). One part of the foyer will also host an unusual donor wall, for the many contributors to the Donald W Reynolds Great Plains Discovery Center project. But, more about that another time. Meanwhile, have a look at these concept drawings from SLA Architects of Wichita Falls, Texas.
Late last week, workers began painting the gallery. It's a dramatic change, coming from the soaring, stark white, unfinished walls. But the colors begin to redefine the spaces. For those of us involved with the planning, there's something recognizable taking shape. Once carpet is laid over the tile floors, it will really pull the walls into focus. Then, the week of July 13, the new exhibits will begin arriving from the designer/fabricator, the Science Museum of Minnesota. The countdown is on. October 10--opening day--is moving closer!
People who've visited the museum in the past will recall the boardwalk, a series of old storefronts in the main gallery. One of these, the General Store, bore a close resemblance to the Council Saddle Shop in Lawton. Howard Council, the owner-operator of the shop, was well-known among competitive calf-ropers (and many others) as a custom saddlemaker.
When the museum began planning the renovation, one of the local interest stories we wanted to highlight was Howard Council. Before his death, he knew of our plans to remodel the old General Store as the Council Saddle Shop. One of the icons of the shop was the fiberglass horse perched on the overhang above the front door.
Today, with his widow, Genevieve, and other members of the family in attendance, the horse was removed from the shop and transported to the museum. This--and many others items from Howard's store--will become a part of the Council Saddle Shop exhibit at the Museum of the Great Plains.
Many thanks to Terry Shaw and Monkey Biz of Lawton for providing the equipment and expertise to dismount the horse!
From time to time, we'll post info here about what's going-on at the museum.