Sorry about the delay. I've been accepted to a series of workshops on preservation and I have been preparing for this trip. I am very excited to go as I would love to learn more about preserving this collection as it is very much a piece of Holyoke's heritage that must be preserved for future generations. I have also been updating the history room's database. I love the interface of technology with the special collections field. It allows much more flexibility in accessing materials, it allows us to reach a larger audience, and it presents us with great oportunities for exciting displays. But, as I found out this week, it can be tetchy, and if you aren't careful, your entire project can disappear if the computer freezes- another reason this posting is so late! There was also less coverage on this topic than on the Art Collection, our next topic.
Holyoke Natural Museum: The Natural world behind glass
So, today's topic is the Natural History Museum at Holyoke Public Library, to be followed soon after by a discussion about the art museum. Like many old New England libraries, Holyoke Public Library had a fairly significant collection of art and artifacts. Located on the second floor of the library, the Holyoke Museum consisted of a natural history and art collection.
The Natural History Museumwas founded in 1927 and was an immediate success. The statistics show that over 500,000 people visited the museum in the first year.
Part of this success could be attributed to the great support the museum received throughtout Holyoke. Such important Holyokeres as William H. Hubbard, Joseph A Skinner, Aaron C. Bagg, Frank H. Metcalf, and a bevy of other luminaries donated both money and objects to this venture.
The Natural History Museum was filled with stuffed animals, live animals, plant samples, exhibits of rocks and other fascinating items drawn from the outside. But one exhibit in particular caught the fancy of children and adults alike.
In addition to the more traditional taxidermy exhibits, the Holyoke Natural History Museum also included the famous (infamous?) Frog Circus. Created in the tradition of the 18th and 19th century art of creating Wunderkammer, or Cabinets of Wonder, the Frog Circus was literally a circus made from stuffed frogs and turles. To this day people remember the thrill of kneeling on the floor of the museum to watch the little frogs perform their death-defying tricks. I am going to attempt to put the picture onto this page, but it might decide, like the other photographs for the mural, that it simply doesn't want to post the picture along with this posting. But here goes.....And it wasn't successful- bummer. Ok- I'll put it into its own post, along with some more information about taxidermy exhibits and wunderkanner.