As we prepare for Behind the Scenes on November 16 & 17, take a look at some of the collections items that will be highlighted by Museum staff.
The Range Creek Archaeology lab will highlight the work conducted in Range Creek Canyon by James H. Gunnerson and published 50 years ago (Gunnerson 1969). Several archaeological sites in Range Creek Canyon were explored and described by Gunnerson between 1954 and 1955. Collections made during that expedition will be on display as well as photographs and documentation of the sites he visited then and now. Staff and students of the Range Creek Field Station will be in the lab to talk about on-going research. We are excited to share the incredible archaeological record that has been so well preserved since it was documented over 50 years ago by the Gunnerson expedition and discuss how the Natural History Museum of Utah's Field Station continues to protect Range Creek's archaeological record now.
The Anthropology Collection is highlighting the Cummings Collection. Byron Cummings (1860-1954), considered the "The Dean" of Southwest Archaeology, had a profound influence on early archaeological work in Utah and Arizona. An explorer, anthropologist, and archaeologist, Cummings was involved in many key discoveries in the American Southwest over the first half of the 20th cenutry. The Cummings collection at NHMU includes ethnographic material that he collected during his travels throughout the Southwest, including prehistoric ceramics, sandals, baskety, and other items.
Entomology’s historic gall collection rehousing project, pollinator collecting at nearby Williams building, the ant collection, some interesting historical specimens of the museum (old collectors including their photos, interesting specimens that are very old, etc).
Genetics: In an effort to align with the 50th anniversary theme, the Genetics lab will showcase the first 50 fungal collections accessioned to the new NHMU Fungarium (since 2016). These include specimens collected in Utah and from the Dja Biosphere Reserve in Cameroon, where Curator Bryn Dentinger has conducted research on fungal diversity for the last 5+ years. Highlights of the collection include edible mushrooms in Utah (porcini, morels) and Cameroon (chanterelles) and a porcini relative from Cameroon that smells like garlic. Basic overview of DNA extraction, sequence generation using portable DNA sequencers, and phylogenetic analysis will be presented to provide a global context for the specimens on display.
Gems and minerals: We will be showcasing the gold specimens and some selected specimens from the Buranek collection, which is the first collection obtained roughly 50 years ago. We will also be displaying pyrite, or fools cold, along with some of the toxic minerals in our collection.
Botany: We will be highlighting the work of Lois Arnow who was the Garrett Herbarium's Curator when it was first housed in the Natural History Museum in 1969. Speaking of Nature All Around Us, Ms. Arnow worked tirelessly to document the plant diversity in our own backyard. Her 1977 field guide Flora of the Central Wasatch Front, Utah is an essential resource for identifying plants in the Salt Lake City area and is still used by botany students at the University of Utah today! We will be showing off some plant specimens she collected right around where the NHMU is currently located as well as some of her original field notes.
Paleontology: In tribute of celebrating our museum's 50th anniversary, paleo collections wants to show off the oldest specimens, in terms of collection date, in our collections.
1) Dystrophaeus, a sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic, was discovered in Utah in 1859. The original discoverers needed better tools to get to the site to further excavate it. Our paleontology staff went back to this site and has been excavating this same dinosaur every summer since 2014. They now rock climb with harnesses and get helicopter support to get there. The bones of this large dinosaur will be on display both in the fossil prep lab and in collections.
2) One of the first if not the first specimen that was collected that is in our collection is this musk ox skull and horn. It was collected in 1871 near State st and North Temple in downtown Salt Lake City!
3) Utah's famous Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry was originally discovered and originally excavated in the 1920s. We have over 12,000 bones from this quarry, many of which will be on display.
4) These gigantic black footprints are from Carbon County Utah. They were found in a coal mine by the miners. We are learning more about these footprints as our digitization team just discovered very early photographs of them!