Field Museum

I volunteer at the Field Museum, in the library's book bindery, fixing books. Once a year, at night, the Field opens its inner sanctum normally only accessible to researchers and staff, and shows what everybody there does to anybody who can scam their way in, usually members of the museum or their friends. Normally i spend the whole evening hot stamping bookmarks for people to show them how that's done, but this year, they let me out, and I got to explore what goes on during the event. There is an area called the Collections Research Center which is seven sub-basements below the ground floor or something... The Collections in question are bodies of animals that have been collected for research purposes. Various researchers will skin these animals, with visitors watching. Then, flesh- eating beetles clean the animals' skeletons so the skeletons can be properly preserved and studied. I took these pictures with my phone.

The first pair is a researcher skinning a fisher- weasel (the inside-out skin is directly in front of her, and the other part of the remains in the tray in the foreground), and then a photo of another fisher-weasel sort of taxidermied in one of the display cases in the museum.



Then there are two pictures of researchers skinning a bobcat, and a picture of some larger felines in a display...



Next are snowy owls laying around drying. They are stuffed with cotton, which is what you see instead of eyes. Then a snowy owl in a display...


Then some random pictures of a lion & babies, and some more birds, in the foreground a common starling.


I ran into the guy you see in the picture of people skinning the bobcat in the hall the other day. I had to ask him a favor, to see if he had a particular type of surgical tubing I needed to fix one of the bindery's pieces of equipment, so I started off by saying, "I have a weird question for you..." After I went through my convoluted explanation of what I needed, he said, "You think that's weird?! Someone on Member's Night asked me if I could clean his friend's skeleton for him!! He said his friend died and wanted his friends to always have him with them. Surgical tubing, that's not weird." Yeah,... I guess not.

 

- Juliayn Coleman