Art meets science meets logistics: The journey of a prehistoric whale skeleton
University of Michigan move-in week often gives rise to sights of some unusual things being hauled around campus. But a cast of a prehistoric whale skeleton? That's worth an extra look. AnnArbor.com photographer Angela Cesere was on the scene:
So why was a cast of a prehistoric whale skeleton being moved across campus?
Art photographer Richard Barnes is the Paula and Edwin Sidman Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Michigan this year, and the U-M Institute for the Humanities Gallery will host his exhibit "Past Perfect/Future Tense" this fall. The exhibit is inspired by the collections in the university's Exhibit Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Zoology.
A statement from the Institute for the Humanities explains, "In this unique installation, Barnes considers the nature of things from collection and display to extinction. A prehistoric skeletal whale juxtaposes a mound of rubber molds and resin casts, examining questions of replication and authenticity, what we save and what we lose. Both lyrical and visceral, Barnes’ work engages us in a provocative conversation about museological practice from behind the scenes, capturing the inextricable relationship between human gesture and the inevitability of extinction."
So, the whale skeleton - a discovery of U-M Professor of Paleontology Phillip Gingerich - had to be moved from its home at the Exhibit Museum on Geddes Avenue to the Institute for the Humanities on Thayer Street. The trip, which took place Monday, wasn't perfect - a too-small door caused a slight problem, and the frame holding the skeleton got in the way at journey's end. But the transfer was made successfully.
The Richard Barnes exhibit runs Sept. 17-Oct. 30 at the Institute for the Humanities Gallery, 202 S. Thayer St, Room 1010. An opening reception is planned for 6:30-8 p.m. Sept. 17. For more information, see www.lsa.umich.edu/humin.