The (Un)Glamorous Life: Behind the Scenes at the Field Museum

I watched the Indiana Jones films a number of times as a kid (teen and young adult) and honestly I can say they were partially responsible for my love affair with history. Watching the movies also led me to try out deciphering hieroglyphics (at the ripe age of 10 or 11) and to attempt grabbing a hat from under a closing garage door — but I digress. Thank you George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford. For those who don’t know, the character Indiana Jones is an archaeologist and professor who also does fieldwork, like any archaeologist or anthropologist, but he doesn’t uncover any old artifacts. No.  Jones escapes the lecture halls and dusty libraries to recover the…. oh I don’t know — THE HOLY GRAIL! Meanwhile  he destroys the Nazis and recovers artifacts while proclaiming “This belongs in a museum!” Could that statement have been my first indoctrination lesson in public history/museum studies? Perhaps.

Presented here are some photos from the glamorous office space museum professionals (curators, anthropologists, exhibit designers, etc.) occupy at the Field Museum. Come with me into world that smells like a hundred year old books and a teeny bit like your 8th grade biology class.

A display case with information about Malvina Hoffman, famous sculptress who recorded, in bronze sculpture, people from around the world. Many of the sculptures  in the  museum and were created in 1930.

A display case with information about Malvina Hoffman, famous sculptress who recorded, in bronze sculpture, people from around the world. Many of the sculptures in the museum and were created in 1930.

Close up picture of sculpture of a woman from India next to the real woman who modeled for the bust. Comparing pictures of the real people with their busts raises questions about  anthropological and cultural attitudes of the time.

Close up picture of sculpture of a woman from India next to the real woman who modeled for the bust. Comparing pictures of the real people with their busts raises questions about anthropological and cultural attitudes of the time.

Map to get around the massive 3rd floor which I used to get lost in.

Map to get around the massive 3rd floor which I used to get lost in.

Doorway to a small section of the anthropology department.

Doorway to a small section of the anthropology department.

This is as close as it gets to anything I imagine a 1930s museum office looked like. Indiana Jones could have worked here, right (without the fax of course)?

This is as close as it gets to anything I imagine a 1930s museum office looked like. Indiana Jones could have worked here, right (without the fax of course)?

The Ancient Americas lab also known as my workspace.  On the wall a map of an area in Peru and on the table a map of the Calumet Region.

The Ancient Americas lab also known as my workspace. On the wall a map of an area in Peru and on the table a map of the Calumet Region.

Poster reads: " ¡Alto al Hauqeo! Salvemos Nuestro Patrimonio Cultural" Translation: "Stop Huaqueo (from Quecha for looting of sacred places)!: Save Our Cultural Heritage"

Poster reads: ” ¡Alto al Hauqeo! Salvemos Nuestro Patrimonio Cultural”
Translation:
“Stop Huaqueo (from Quecha for looting of sacred places)!: Save Our Cultural Heritage”

Stairway to the mysterious fourth floor, Exhibitions. Look to the top right for some curation of dinosaurs.

Stairway to the mysterious fourth floor, Exhibitions. Look to the top right for some curation of dinosaurs.

A zoological exhibit near my workspace.

A zoological exhibit near my workspace.

A scientific drawing of a very angry badger by one the women's bathrooms.

A scientific drawing of a very angry badger by one the women’s bathrooms.

What I call the "bird library" which is much like what it sounds.; numerous archives of preserved dead birds. Mmm the smell of formaldehyde in the morning.

What I call the “bird library” which is much like what it sounds.; numerous archives of preserved dead birds. Mmm the smell of formaldehyde in the morning.

A wall of anthropology curators from the beginning of the Field Museum to the current one. The is one woman in there.

A wall of anthropology curators from the beginning of the Field Museum to the current one. The is one woman in there.

What is known as "wall of wood" which is a hallway lined with samples of wood from around the world with labels.

What is known as “wall of wood” which is a hallway lined with samples of wood from around the world with labels.

Part of the in-house library.

Part of the in-house library.

Beautiful woodcarving from Asia in the library entrance way.

Beautiful woodcarving from Asia in the library entrance way.

And this is Bushman, the guy I get to see everyday when I get on or of the elevator.

And this is Bushman, the guy I get to see everyday when I get on or of the elevator.

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