Giant Ants!

July 13th, 2015
By Grace, Kristen B



Last Tuesday two large-scale bronze ant sculptures were installed on the front lawn of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Each sculpture weighs 1,100 pounds and had to be forklifted from the delivery truck to the ground.

The sculptures came to the museum through a University of Florida program called Creative B. Each year the summer program features an artists work on campus, and this year the artist chosen is American artist Susan P. Cochran, who designed and executed the sculptures named X and O.

The sculptures will reside at the museum for a year and the artist encourages amusement and interaction with them. She states they are actually seats, calling them outdoor furniture. But if you choose to try them out, remember they are made of bronze and we are in the dead of summer in Florida. In other words, they get hot!

I’m always intrigued by people moving large, heavy items. It is exciting to watch and even more fun  to photograph.

There was a good media turnout to cover the event and the Gainesville Sun produced a short video of the event:

Ants Go Marching



 

 

Passiflora spp. – A study

May 29th, 2015
By Grace, Kristen B



Today I spent some time  studying the Passion Vine and flower with my camera. Here is what I came up with:



 

A Macro Look at NATL

April 1st, 2015
By Grace, Kristen B


Gainesville, Fl, is a very lush and green city with many urban parks and natural areas. The University of Florida alone has more than 2,000 acres of land on the main campus, which is shared with large palm trees, southern magnolias and majestic oaks dripping with Spanish moss. One of the largest natural areas on campus is located behind the Florida Museum of Natural History and Phillips Center for Performing Arts, respectively, and is used for research and education by many. Parts of the area are also open to the general public to hike and explore (map). The Natural Area Teaching Laboratory, or NATL, consists of 60 acres in the southwest corner of campus. Here is more about the area.


One recent spring day, I took a walk through the area with my Nikon D700 and 60mm macro lens. Here is what I came back with…

 

A time lapse, Sue’s up and running and a selfie phenominon

February 23rd, 2015
By Grace, Kristen B



To wrap up this visual chronicle of the process of setting up A T.rex Named Sue (this is the fourth and final post) we’d like to share a time lapse of the set-up process and opening day crowd:

To accomplish the time lapse, Jeff and I mounted a Nikon D200 in the rafters with a Bogen magic arm. We let the camera run for the nine days it took staff to complete the whole exhibit. We set the camera with an intervalometer and a 10-pin extension cord to take a photo every eight to 30 minutes depending on activity. A museum videographer also provided content.

Time lapse camera mounted in the rafters

Time lapse camera mounted in the rafters (taken with an iPod touch.) Photo by Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Time lapse equipment

The equipment we used for the time lapse. Photo by Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue has been open to the public for a little over a month now and is doing great!

As with most of our temporary exhibits we hosted a public event, where guests can help the museum celebrate the opening of a new exhibit, and a members-only event, where members are invited to view the exhibit after hours and listen to an exhibit-related talk. Sue’s opening day celebration was a hit with surprise visits by Ronald McDonald and UF’s mascot Albert, and the members event was extremely well-attended with the classroom overflowing with guests to listen to a fantastic talk given by Dr. Gregory M. Erickson, professor of anatomy and vertebrate paleobiology at Florida State University.

Opening Day Celebration:

Members Reception:

And now for the selfie phenominon. With social media’s increasing popularity, specifically with selfies, and our marketing team jumping in on the bandwagon by posting a sign by Sue stating to tag your “SUEper selfie” with #selfiewithsue and #floridamuseum, we have seen a huge increase in people sharing their images from their museum visit on social media. It has been so fun to see the social media engagement, as well as to witness these “SUEper” selfies being made!

 

Building a T-Rex

January 21st, 2015
By Grace, Kristen B



* Be sure to read the posts leading up to this post – This a visual chronicle of the arrival of one of largest temporary exhibits at the Florida Museum of Natural History *

It took museum staff, fabrications and exhibits crew a week to construct Sue under the guidance of productions supervisor Michael Paha, from the Field Museum in Chicago (where the original Sue skeleton is on display). With ladders, a fork lift and brute strength Sue’s skeleton cast was hoisted in pieces and bolted together. The skull was mounted last with local media on hand to record the occasion. More than once members of the crew constructing Sue commented on the awesomeness of what will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.

Staff and crew will continue to prepare the rest of the exhibit, including a dig pit with rubber mulch and bone casts for visitors to dig in. A T-rex Named Sue will officially open to the public this Saturday, January 24, at 10 a.m. The museum will hold an opening celebration that day with experts and tables for visitors to interact with. Please visit the museum’s website for more details.

To read a story published in the Gainesville Sun about Sue’s return, click here.



 

Sue's hips

Sue’s hips are unloaded from a crate with a fork lift. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Hips hoisted

Sue’s hips are hoisted up to attach to her left leg. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Hips bolted

Sue’s hips are bolted into place by Michael Paha and Mike Adams. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Sue's right leg was next. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Sue’s right leg was next. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Tail added

Then her tail… Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Ribs

Her ribs, shoulders and front arms were added next. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Hoisting ribs

Hoisting the ribs. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Securing ribs

Sue’s ribs are aligned and secured. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Pubic bone

It was all hands on deck to hoist the pubic bone up to the pelvis. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Skull mounting

Lastly, the skull. Gabby Nicholas/Florida Museum of Natural History

Sue's complete

And she is done! Gabby Nicholas/Florida Museum of Natural History

Some of the crew members that participated in the construction of Sue. Gabby Nicholas/Florida Museum of Natural History

Some of the crew members that participated in the construction of Sue. Gabby Nicholas/Florida Museum of Natural History

 

Unpacking a Dinosaur

January 15th, 2015
By Grace, Kristen B



A T-rex named Sue arrived yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 14). She came in crates, some weighing almost 3,000 pounds, packed in three semi-trucks. Forty crates and over fours hours after her arrival she was strewn about the empty exhibit floor space. Over the next several days, staff and crew will open the crates, unpack the boxes and piece together the cast of the largest and most complete tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and accompanying exhibit.

The Gainesville Sun produced a short video of the unloading. It can be seen here.

Before Sue arrived, the traveling exhibits and fabrications crew had to pack and ship Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived. Since the last post, crew prepared the exhibit for trucks and continued to work on what will be the entranceway to Sue’s exhibit. Like with the unloading of Sue, packing Meg on semi-trucks took about 10 people, though Meg only required two trucks. The trucks are now en-route to the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas.

To pack and ship these exhibits takes a tremendous amount of pre-planning. The trucks and exhibit crates and pieces are measured and drawn out on paper to ensure the best use of space and safest packing possible. A special fork lift was rented to help with moving the very large and very heavy crates. At times it was harrowing to witness.



Packing Megalodon:Largest Shark that Ever Lived

Preparing and Packing Megalodon

Preparing and Packing Megalodon. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Crates from the Megalodon exhibit are carefully loaded onto the semi.

Crates from the Megalodon exhibit are carefully loaded onto the semi. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Meg's gills were challenging to pack because of their awkward shape.

Meg’s gills were challenging to pack because of their awkward shape. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Preparing for Sue

Sue entrance prep

Exhibits crew builds the entrance to the Sue exhibit. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Sue arrives

A semi-truck arrives containing Sue exhibit items.

A semi-truck arrives containing Sue exhibit items. Jeff Gage/Florida Museum of Natural History

Unloading Sue crates

Unloading the very large and heavy crates for the Sue exhibit. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Crate being lifted off truck.

Large crates were lowered gently using both the fork lift and the truck lift simultaneously. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

Exhibit crates

Exhibit crates were organized around the floor of the exhibit space in preparation for unpacking. Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

 

 

 

Hello World and Welcome Sue!

January 7th, 2015
By Grace, Kristen B



The photo office at the Florida Museum of Natural History is kicking off its new blog! We thought we’d begin with visuals of the installation of a new, and very large, exhibit.

On January 24, 2015, the museum will open  A T. Rex Named Sue, which features a fully articulated, life-size skeleton cast of the most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. The skeleton is 42 feet long and 12 feet tall at the hips. Sue roamed the earth 67 million years ago.

Installing any museum exhibit is a daunting task requiring lots of creativity, critical thinking and artistic and technical skill, not to mention several days of long work hours for many museum employees and volunteers. Every time our staff installs a new exhibit I am amazed at the team work, commitment and quality I witness.

The fabrications crew is currently breaking down our last temporary exhibit, Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived, and will begin the major building and construction of Sue next week. We will photographically document this process and share images with you here.



Here are the beginnings of the process. These were shot with an iPod touch, and some were published to our Instagram feed.

T-rex skull

A t-rex skull being used as a teaser for Sue is prepared for public display in the fabrications department. iPod Touch photo posted on Instagram.

T-rex jaw with fabrications staff

Mike Adams, fabrications staff, fine-tunes supports for a t-rex skull being used as a teaser for the Sue exhibit. iPod touch image posted on Instagram.

Image of the teaser fossil and Sue sign

The teaser has been installed just inside the first bank of the front doors to the museum. iPod Touch image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Sue banner

The banner advertising Sue has been hung on the front of the building. iPod Touch image.

Photo of Meg being broken down

Packing up an existing exhibit usually goes faster than unpacking one. This is a photo of Meg being broken down. iPod Touch image.