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Entries from May 2017

Collection Highlight E352229: Bag- Wood and Dressed Skin

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This small bag, made of wood or reeds and dressed animal skin, was donated to the museum in 1931! Though the catalog card does not identify a collector, we know it was donated by The Museum of the Academy of Sciences, Leningrad, Russia. Collected near the Aldan and Lena Rivers area in Southeastern Siberia, Russia, the bag is associated with the Yakut (or Sakha) culture. Bags of this type, typically made from ox hide, were used to transport fermented mare’s milk (koumiss)! ‘This bag couldn’t hold much koumiss!’ you may be saying. In fact, this particular bag is most likely a model or a child’s version of the typical full sized bag!

Explore more objects and images on our online database!


Collection Highlight E394452: Cribbage Board

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This cribbage board, made from a single walrus tusk, is beautifully decorated with scrimshaw—carving on whale bone or ivory which is colored with pigment! Cribbage, a card game invented in the 1600s, is historically a British invention and pastime, though it found its way to American shores on board ships throughout the later 19th and early 20th centuries alongside explorers and colonialists. Embellished boards such as this one, which are used to keep score, were likely made by Alaskan natives for sale to non-natives, as a market for tourist goods blossomed with the arrival of Europeans the late 1800s.

Although the history of the game is long, and scrimshaw was originally done on whaling ships beginning in the mid 1700’s, our cribbage board was collected from St. Lawrence Island by Mr. Edward D. Jones and accessioned into the museum in 1957. If you take a closer look at the detail images taken by our photographer, you can see the holes for the score keeping pegs (“spilikins”) evenly placed among the intricate scrimshaw work.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!


Become a 'Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend' Exhibit Volunteer!!

Narwhal Recruitment Flyer

 

In August 2017 we will be opening a new exhibit Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic legend and are currently in the process of recruiting volunteers to interact with visitors in this exhibit and the Sant ocean hall. We will provide all the training necessary to prepare volunteers in September and they will start once they have completed the training. Volunteers would commit to coming into the museum eight hours a month for one year and must be 18 or older.

Volunteers will answer questions, spark conversations and engage visitors with cultural objects and marine specimens in the Narwhal exhibit and Sant Ocean Hall. The exhibits cover topics such as narwhal biology, Inuit culture, the effects of climate change in the Arctic, biodiversity in the ocean, fossil records of marine life, and human’s impact on the ocean and contain over 674 marine specimen. Volunteers will get the opportunity to learn directly from world renowned scientists, gain experience communicating the importance of our natural world to visitors, and much more.


Collection Highlight E332406: Seal Skin Bag Made with Fish Heads

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From a distance, this object looks like a relatively unremarkable, woven, lightly decorated bag. However, upon closer inspection you might notice that the bag is actually made of both sealskin and fish heads that have been stitched together (look for their eyes). Talk about unexpected materials!  This is just one example of so many in our collections of how circumpolar groups use the materials in innovative and effective ways that may be surprising to us non-circumpolar folks. For instance, conjoined fish heads would make a good water-resistant bag. Just like this delicately embroidered Work-Bag made of Sea Lion intestine. This bag was donated to the museum in 1926 by the National Museum of Denmark. It originates from the Inuit or Tunumiit people in Ammassalik County, Greenland.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!


Collection Highlight E43565: Extremely Tiny Walrus Belt Ornament

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Carving this diminutive ivory walrus, used as a belt ornament, must have been very difficult—check out some of the amazing details former project photographer, Brittany Hance, was able to capture.

This belt ornament, shaped like a walrus, is so tiny! This object is one of many collected by Edward W. Nelson and accessioned in 1880. Nelson’s objects form one of the founding circumpolar collections—so stay tuned for more information about Nelson and other impactful collectors, and how their efforts shaped the study of Arctic cultures and impacted the lives of people in that region.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!