Museum presents six areas of research and discovery
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 25, 2014 06:00 am
Ever wonder what goes on in the mysterious cavernous back rooms of the Royal Alberta Museum?
Now is your chance to find out as the museum is scheduling its fourth annual Questions and Collections: Research at the Museum winter curatorial lecture series.
From the diverse beauty of seeds and bear conservation to geological patterns and Canadian military history, the six-part lecture series highlights the behind-the-scenes work visitors rarely see in public spaces.
“The curators love it. It gives us an opportunity to talk to people in a longer format. It gives a broader perspective on why we do what we do and why it’s important,” says Dr. Alwynne Beaudoin, curator of quaternary environments.
She launches the series on Jan. 29 with The Science and Beauty of Seeds. Beaudoin’s area of expertise is looking at the environment and how it has changed over the last 12,000 years since the last ice age.
Her talk feeds off the museum’s Seeds in Disguise exhibit featured in the Spotlight Gallery. The exhibit showcases primarily ornamental seeds from tropical and subtropical regions. Beaudoin will discuss how over time, seeds have developed traits that allow wind, water and animals to spread them over the landscape.
“It (exhibit) is small, it’s colourful and it’s dense with information.”
On Feb. 12, Dr. Diane Haughland, lichenologist for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute chats about When Algae Met Fungi: A lichen love story.
“Diane will be talking about organisms people probably don’t even notice – organisms we know very little about, but are important in terms of biodiversity. It’s stuff that’s around us, right under our feet. But we just don’t know that much about it,” Beaudoin notes.
Melissa Bowerman, assistant curator of geology, discusses geological patterns while pinpointing a pattern mystery from the far north. A Geological Pattern Mystery: How patterns large and small provide insight into Earth’s history is on Feb. 26.
“Melissa will talk about broad-scale geology and how patterns on the rock and land may look similar but the origins are very different. It will give people a different perspective and you will look at the landscape with different eyes.”
Dr. Mark Edwards, curator of mammalogy, has over the last decade done a great deal of in depth work on bears. On March 12 he presents Our Changing Relationship with Bears: Society, culture and conservation, a look at the challenges facing these mammals.
“This is going to be a popular lecture. The public finds bears attractive. They’re big. They’re a symbol of the wild lands. You see them in the national parks and people are intrigued by them. We like them.”
Veering away from nature, Sean Moir, curator of military and political history’s delivers a lecture on the March 26 titled Unwanted Guests: Prisoners of war in Canada during the Second World War.
The stories refer to the Robert Henderson PoW Collection of documents from nearly 38,000 people in camps across Canada between 1939 and 1947.
“These were young men that were confined. They needed something to occupy themselves and they made interesting crafts. Some were personal, some were made for trade.”
The closing lecture on April 9 is ethnology curator Dr. Susan Berry’s talk on First Nations and Métis Biographical Objects and Historical Narrative.
“This highlights important objects from the museum collection. They’re not just objects. They have personal stories. They add a whole new dimension to the objects and enhance the museum collection in a great way.”
Lectures are usually 45 minutes followed by a question and answer period. All lectures are free. They are held every second Wednesday and begin at 7 p.m. in the museum theatre. The museum opens at 6 p.m. giving visitors an opportunity to browse the gift shop and cash bar.