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A stormy morning here in Providence. I was awakened by thunder. Down in Narragansett, there was some considerable flooding, I've heard.

Not much in the way of work. I needed a day, I think, to fully comes to terms with the fact of my decision to bow out of The Dinosaurs of Mars. Of course, a day likely was not enough time, but it's all I could afford. But, really, the only work happened in email, and that was mostly looking over color stuff from Lee Moyer for the painting that will be his cover for Beneath the Oil-Dark Sea.

Note that I will now cease giving various locations on Mars as my daily location. That was a way I tried to keep the novella alive in my mind.

We went to Brown University, because Spooky had heard about "The Lost Museum," a tribute to the late Jenks Museum of Zoology. We dropped into the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, which, turns out, isn't much to see, especially since half their tiny display area is presently given over exhibits relating to the 250th anniversary of Brown. I'm not sure I'm up to writing about the origin, history, and sad fate of Professor John Whipple Potter Jenks' natural history cabinet, which occupied Rhode Island Hall from roughly 1871 to 1915. You can follow the links and read for yourselves, if you're so inclined. And you should be. Whipple graduated from Brown at age 19, in 1838, and, in 1894, he literally died on the steps of his museum, probably succumbing to the effects of the arsenic he used in taxidermy mounts and other natural history curatorial work. After his death, the museum was permitted by Brown to fall into disarray and decay, and in 1945 ninety-two truckloads of artifacts and specimens – hauled to the University's dump on the banks of the Seekonk River. Only a tiny percentage of the museum's collection survived the purge.

Yeah. Really.

Here are some photos from yesterday, behind the cut:

Manning Hall, home to the aforementioned underwhelming Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.

Rhode Island Hall, built in 1840, the university's fourth building and once home to the lost wonders of the Jenks Museum.

I fell utterly and completely in love with this recreation of Jenks' office space. This is Heaven.

"The office is a psychological profile of John Whipple Potter Jenks, an individual, but also a psychological profile of many curators of natural history. I’ve visited curators’ offices at many museums, and this space captures something of the way that many curators live with artifacts. It’s an overabundance of artifacts, things next to books about them next to the tools used to understand them. Jenks’ room is layered with things – hundreds, maybe thousands of things. (There are things in there that you can’t see, hidden behind other things.) The room is recreated based on some very good sources – including a wonderful article one of Jenks’ students wrote, and a painting of a taxidermist’s workshop from about that time – but that's not what makes it seem so real."


A few of the few artifacts that escaped destruction, including a crocodile jaw and an albatross skull.

All photographs Copyright © 2014 by Kathryn A. Pollnac and Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Last night, we finished Season Two of the delightfully campy Hemlock Grove, complete with wonderful David Lynch nods. I call it a must-see.

Black Blizzards,
Aunt Beast


( 17 comments — Have your say! )
Jul. 16th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
Those pictures are really great, a fantastic work of art even before reading about the history around it.
Jul. 16th, 2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
Love the photos. Did you really like Season 2 of Hemlock? I loved the first season, but mostly because of the development of the relationship between Peter and Roman. The second season had me until the very last episode; it lost me with the enormous deux ex machina moment ("Why does your gun have a silencer?") followed by so many what-the-fuck moments that my head was spinning. Oh well...we can't agree on everything.
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
Did you really like Season 2 of Hemlock? I

I did, better than Season One, actually. I thought it was a superior production. But then I've never been bothered by so-called "deux ex machina" plot elements (and I'm often accused of them).

Edited at 2014-07-16 05:18 pm (UTC)
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:00 pm (UTC)
I say this with love but ... Whipple, Potter, Jenks @ Brown. Jesus Christ but Rhode Island was inbred in the 19th century. Won't say which one(s) I'm related to.
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC)

It was. It truly was. If only he'd had the name Angell in there somewhere.

Edited at 2014-07-16 05:16 pm (UTC)
Jul. 16th, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC)
I say NOTHING to that and you can't make me.
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:22 pm (UTC)
Speaking as someone who has worked there (very part-time), the current state of the Haffenreffer makes me sad, although the Jenks Museum is much sadder. The HMA had a rather larger and more beautiful bayside location in Bristol, but now the only exhibit space is that building, originally meant, if I remember right, to be merely an on-campus satellite exhibit space. At one point back in the 90s, it was going to move from Bristol to the Old Stone Bank on North Main, but that fell through.
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)

Sigh. That would have been wonderful.

Providence has shown itself to be a city with no interest in Natural History museums.
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the photos. I'm really enjoying the recreation of the office space too. I like seeing the process or mind behind the work.
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, that looks like the perfect office for you.
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:48 pm (UTC)


Edited at 2014-07-16 05:49 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 16th, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC)

The recreation of his office makes me think of some fictional office in which you might choose to work.

Many more fossils, but yes.
Jul. 16th, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the photographs of the exhibit and remaining items of the collection that survived the 92 truckloads(!) taken away. Is it morbid that I especially appreciate seeing the exterior of the building and the steps?
Jul. 16th, 2014 10:26 pm (UTC)

Nah, not morbid at all.

Edited at 2014-07-16 10:26 pm (UTC)
Jul. 16th, 2014 10:34 pm (UTC)
Good. I am fascinated with those steps.
Jul. 17th, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
Only a tiny percentage of the museum's collection survived the purge.

His study is a marvel.

Edited at 2014-07-17 04:44 am (UTC)
( 17 comments — Have your say! )