The Sheldon Car - One of the museum’s most unique artifacts has just been cloned! An auto enthusiast named Don Langley, an American ex-pat living in Australia, recently completed a replica of the Sheldon Car, the first car in Alaska. Skagway resident Robert Sheldon completed it in 1905 without ever actually seeing one in person. He based the design on magazine illustrations.

Langley contacted Senior Collections Manager Angela Linn last year to ask permission to pursue his project. He sent an email requesting exact measurements, which were supplied by Willie Vinton of the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks, where the Sheldon Car is currently on display.

Langley decided it would be impossible to achieve an exact reproduction, so he decided to adopt Sheldon’s principle of using whatever was available. “The chassis and the engine compartment presented no problems,” he said. “I made those components as close as possible to the dimensions given to me.”

He adapted the rest of the car through a series of trial and error, from the 13 horsepower engine taken from a riding lawn mower to the seat he upholstered himself to the suspension springs he designed and commissioned a local blacksmith to make. “They work extremely well and create a lot of interest,” Langley said. “I also had to design and make the components and brackets to fit that type of spring to the chassis.”

Sheldon built his original version using materials available in the Southeast Alaska gold rush town where he lived, including a two-cycle marine engine, wheels from a buggy and two carbide mining lamps as headlights.

In 1934, University of Alaska president Charles Bunnell brought the car to Fairbanks from Juneau, where it had been in storage for almost a decade. The car was incorporated into the UA Museum of the North’s collection and later exhibited in the Gallery of Alaska.

“For us, the Sheldon car is a part of the history of Southeast Alaska, and it helped us tell that story for more than 30 years,” said Linn. “At the Antique Auto Museum, people get to see the car in a whole new light – as part of automotive history.”

Langley calculates that he spent about $4,000 Australian (approximately $3,700 US). “The project took me eight months and I have to pay tribute to my wife for her forbearance.” He named the car after her, calling it the Sheldon Isabella.

The couple recently drove the car in a local parade and it performed perfectly. Langley said the Bobby Sheldon story, which was displayed beside the car, also attracted considerable interest and comment.

Photos, from top: A side view of the Sheldon Isabella, constructed by Don Langley; basic chassis with seat in position; trimming wheels to the precise diameter; the Sheldon Car, on display in the museum’s Gallery of Alaska; historical photo depicting the first automobile in Alaska.

Fossil Friday - We love digging bones out of the dirt. And footprints, and petrified wood, and all kinds of other fossilized materials. These photos are of work done over the past few decades on Alaska’s North Slope.

The UA Museum of the North hosts the largest collection of Arctic dinosaur fossils in the world.The first North Slope dinosaur bones were discovered in the mid-1980s. They were from the “duck-billed” Edmontosaurus, which as fully-grown adults could reach 10 feet tall, 40 feet long, and weigh three tons. These plant-eaters are thought to have lived in social groups or even herds.

Newer discoveries along the Colville River include Troodon and Dromaeosaurus (both smaller flesh-eaters), as well as juvenile hadrosaurs. North Slope dinosaurs may have survived year-round in ancient long-gone river systems which supported lush summer vegetation. Enough seasonal plant matter may have grown during the 24-hour sunlit summers to last during the cool-to-cold dark days of winter (though not as harsh as today’s North Slope winters). The plant-eating dinosaurs, in turn, would have been the over-wintering food source of the meat-eaters.

From the BLM Alaska Dinosaur page.

Other Dinosaur Fossils found on the North Slope

  • North Slope, various locations: 1970s and later, mostly limited discoveries of dinosaur skin imprints and footprints in different areas.

  • North Slope, Colville River drainage: 1998 discovery of major trackways which provide evidence of seven different meat- and plant-eating dinosaurs including the oval-shaped tracks of a yet unknown species; the new discoveries date from the Middle Cretaceous, about 90-110 million years ago.


The bottom photo shows what happens when the plaster casts, bone bits, and fossilized materials are brought to the museum and prepared as specimens.

That’s us!

uafairbanks:

@alaskamusem

That’s us!

uafairbanks:

@alaskamusem

EXPEDITION DINOSAURS — Each summer, Anchorage mural artist James Havens works with both scientists and the public to create a new mural featuring dinosaurs.This year, Earth Sciences Curator Pat Druckenmiller is helping him depict a herd of hadrosaurs. The artist answered a few questions for us and shared some photos of his “Painting with Dinosaurs” installation.

1) How did you get interested in painting dinosaur murals? What was the first species you painted? I have always had an interest in dinosaurs. As discoveries started happening here in Alaska, I couldn’t help but be inspired. My first painting featuring a dinosaur was Albertosaurus, which lived in Alaska during the Cretaceous Period. The painting also featured Anchiceratops, which was listed in BLM’s dinosaur list at the time. The release happened to fall on the date that the “Walking with Dinosaurs” stage show debuted in Anchorage. The Daily News coined our exhibit Painting with Dinosaurs, which has become an annual event for me, featuring a new Alaskan dinosaur each year.

I create my mural in a public setting and invite the public to dabble some paint on the canvas so that we can inform them about the featured Alaskan dinosaur, the museum and scientist involved in its discovery, and the experience of participating in the creation of a large scale original piece of art that may one day end up in a museum collection. The participants are also invited to sign the back of the canvas upon completion. My goal is to represent Alaskan dinosaurs, Alaskan scientists, research facilities, and local museums. 

2) What kind of reaction do you get from the kids who watch you work? What does it mean to you to include them in the painting process? I love working with the kids, they know so much about the dinosaurs I paint. Usually, I can hear them coming across the atrium. “OHHHH! Coool dinosaurs! That’s a such and such, and they did this and that.” Then they describe how they like to paint and I invite them over the security tape to come paint. Most just jump right in wide eyed and ready to go. Interestingly, most adults need some coaxing as they are scared to mess anything up. It really is fun and who knows, maybe I can inspire a future Rembrandt to have the courage to lift that first brush and create a masterpiece when they grow up.  

3) The UA Museum of the North is planning a dinosaur exhibit to open next summer. What do you want to know about Alaska’s dinosaurs? I try to follow pretty closely what is happening in Alaska concerning dinosaur discoveries. With each painting, I have new information to take in about them, such as their anatomy, environment, social behavior and details. With the hadrosaur piece, I’ve explored the texture of the pads of their feet.

I also begin a new project by creating a smaller scale model to use for lighting and placement. I learn about their anatomy as it is being constructed. I try to work as closely as possible with the scientists to make sure that everything is correct according the suggested information regarding the species and their environment. With each painting I learn more about dinosaurs. And then the scientists (Go get ‘em, Pat!) find something new and we are back to the first page.

4) Have you ever been to the UA Museum of the North? What do you think of our dinosaur fossil collection? I am a huge fan of the UA Museum of the North and have had the opportunity to visit the collection and see some of the incredible specimens being studied there. It is one of the greatest collection of arctic dinosaurs anywhere in the world. It is my belief that all Alaskan dinosaurs should stay here in Alaska. The Museum of the North, its research staff and scientists are leading the mission of keeping the outstanding collection of arctic dinosaurs safe for future generations of Alaskans to see. 

The UA Museum of the North is working on an exhibit about dinosaurs in Alaska. Stay tuned for more about our project.

We have an Ansel Adams photograph called Mt. McKinley in the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery.

dendroica:

Close-up of ferns, from directly above, “In Glacier National Park,” Montana. (by The U.S. National Archives)
Series: Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941 - 1942, documenting the period ca. 1933 – 1942

We have an Ansel Adams photograph called Mt. McKinley in the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery.

dendroica:

Close-up of ferns, from directly above, “In Glacier National Park,” Montana. (by The U.S. National Archives)

Series: Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941 - 1942, documenting the period ca. 1933 – 1942

FLOWERS AND SOLSTICE - The summer solstice is nigh! That means a change of the landscape, from the early flowers of an Interior spring to the deep roots of summer blossoms. Here at the museum, our blush of roses on local bushes are fading away. But the lilacs are now in bloom. And we have much more to look forward to as the days gently shake off the extra minutes of light. Still to come: irises and fireweed and a host of field flowers. Who says Alaska isn’t green?

National Pollinator Week — In 2006, the U.S. Senate created National Pollinator Week to recognize the importance of pollinators to ecosystem health and agriculture in the United States.You can learn more about this year’s effort here.

At the UA Museum of the North, researchers in the insect collection have been documenting the groups that pollinate plants in Alaska for the past decade. Some of them are common, like these bumble bees and yellow jackets caught on film by Curator of Insects Derek Sikes gathering pollen from a sunflower he grew. (top photo)

Many different species of insects pollinate plants in Alaska, including the flower fly shown in the photo second from the top. These insects from the family Syrphidae are often seen hovering above flowers, so they can feed on the plants’ nectar and pollen.

Sikes says a variety of flies, including mosquitoes, also help spread the pollen love, as well as various beetles, but we know a lot more about bumble bees and butterflies than the other pollinators.

"Pollinators are of increasing interest due to the declines in honey bee colonies and some bumble bees in the lower 48 states," he said. "So far, we haven’t detected any evidence of decline in bumble bees in Alaska. And a species of concern in the lower 48, Bombus occidentalis, appears to be OK in Alaska, too.”

With funding from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the United States Department of Agriculture, the insect collection has been able to curate and digitize pollinator specimens. These collections and their associated data will help investigate global patterns of change in bumble bees and provide an invaluable resource for future studies.

All photos by UAMN Curator of Insects Derek Sikes.

There’s a polar bear! We’re leaving to go see.
You’re making an animated film about a year in the life of the bowhead whale. So you go to Barrow for the research — observations about the weather, landscape, and atmosphere of the arctic.  
But you remember most the experiences you didn’t expect.

A few miles out of town, down a bumpy road hugging the ice-bound shore lies the ARF. Nestled amongst weather-beaten stations and pallets of snowy equipment, the ARF station sits squat and steadfast. The ARF, or Arctic Research Facility brims with character and tangible history. Animal Research started in the building in the 1940′s – 50′s, but the term ‘ARF’ was not properly in use until the 60′s. The living-quarters extensions (kitchen, bunks, etc) were built in the mid 70′s.
Evidence of its dedicated years of service are found everywhere. Sun-bleached newspaper clippings cling next to printed pictures of researchers busy in the field. Ice-trail maps of years past are tacked next to a panorama of an open arctic shore, with a palm tree comically pasted on. Well-worn novels rest on shelves with boxes of puzzles and odd parts, whilst in the hallway hangs a cabinet of carefully preserved curiosities.
Down the end of a long hallway flanked with rooms of steel-frame bunkbeds, curves a prep-area filled with supply-coolers for the research runs and jars of ponderous specimens and metal instruments.
(via Life at the ARF | Arctic Currents)

There’s a polar bear! We’re leaving to go see.

You’re making an animated film about a year in the life of the bowhead whale. So you go to Barrow for the research — observations about the weather, landscape, and atmosphere of the arctic. 

But you remember most the experiences you didn’t expect.

A few miles out of town, down a bumpy road hugging the ice-bound shore lies the ARF. Nestled amongst weather-beaten stations and pallets of snowy equipment, the ARF station sits squat and steadfast. The ARF, or Arctic Research Facility brims with character and tangible history. Animal Research started in the building in the 1940′s – 50′s, but the term ‘ARF’ was not properly in use until the 60′s. The living-quarters extensions (kitchen, bunks, etc) were built in the mid 70′s.

Evidence of its dedicated years of service are found everywhere. Sun-bleached newspaper clippings cling next to printed pictures of researchers busy in the field. Ice-trail maps of years past are tacked next to a panorama of an open arctic shore, with a palm tree comically pasted on. Well-worn novels rest on shelves with boxes of puzzles and odd parts, whilst in the hallway hangs a cabinet of carefully preserved curiosities.

Down the end of a long hallway flanked with rooms of steel-frame bunkbeds, curves a prep-area filled with supply-coolers for the research runs and jars of ponderous specimens and metal instruments.

(via Life at the ARF | Arctic Currents)

Museum Landscape - Stunning photography showing off the innovative architecture of the UA Museum of the North. Nationally-recognized architect Joan Soranno and the GDM/HGA architectural team designed the building to convey a sense of Alaska, with innovative lines and spaces evoking images of alpine ridges, glaciers, a whale, even the aurora. 
Also on display are installations by local artists celebrating the theme “arctic exploration” in celebration of our special exhibit, Arctic Odyssey: Voyages of the R/V Sikuliaq. We’ve also got banners depicting the themes in the exhibit: innovation, collection, exploration, and discovery.
The museum is now open daily 9am - 7pm. We hope you’ll visit us this summer. Thanks to michaelwardieRogers for making this gorgeous picture and sharing it with us. You can learn more about his photography at www.michaelwardierogers.com.

Museum Landscape - Stunning photography showing off the innovative architecture of the UA Museum of the North. Nationally-recognized architect Joan Soranno and the GDM/HGA architectural team designed the building to convey a sense of Alaska, with innovative lines and spaces evoking images of alpine ridges, glaciers, a whale, even the aurora.

Also on display are installations by local artists celebrating the theme “arctic exploration” in celebration of our special exhibit, Arctic Odyssey: Voyages of the R/V Sikuliaq. We’ve also got banners depicting the themes in the exhibit: innovation, collection, exploration, and discovery.

The museum is now open daily 9am - 7pm. We hope you’ll visit us this summer. Thanks to michaelwardieRogers for making this gorgeous picture and sharing it with us. You can learn more about his photography at www.michaelwardierogers.com.

DRUMS OF WINTER — A documentary film produced by the UA Museum of the North is getting a special screening by the Library of Congress this week. Drums of Winter, directed by Film Curator Len Kamerling and Ethnographic Filmmaker Sarah Elder in 1988, is about Yup’ik music and dance and the spiritual world it mediates. The film was named to the National Film Registry (NFR) in 2006 and is currently being restored.

Kamerling says the idea for inclusion in the national tour grew from the documentary’s increasing public recognition and the role it could play in encouraging the preservation and restoration of other irreplaceable films.

How did the film come to be included in the national tour? When Drums of Winter was named to the NFR, it achieved a new level of recognition. Since that time, requests for showings from organizations and educational institutions nationwide have been continuous. As an NFR film, it is fitting that the first public showing of the restored work be at the Library of Congress Theater at its preservation facility in Culpeper, VA. Screenings at regional preservation centers in New York and LA, are also in the works, as well as screenings at regional museums and educational institutions through the country. However, our main focus for 2014-15 will be public showings throughout Alaska.

What does this mean for you and for the museum? The national tour is a validation of the community-collaborative approach to documentary and ethnographic film that the museum’s Film Center has developed and refined over many years. It is a validation of the idea of shared anthropology and collaborative decision making. Being named to the NFR is the highest award a filmmaker can achieve because it means that this film will be around for future generations to experience. Most awards are transitory, but this one insures the legacy of a film for the future.

Where will the tour be seen? Can people in Alaska get involved? Stay tuned for the Drums tour website. Schools will be able to download study guides, excerpts of the film, interviews with the filmmakers and key people involved in the preservation process. You will be able to schedule a free showing or your group or school. Screenings will be held in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Bethel, Juneau and in the Yup’ik village of Emmonak where the film was made.

What does it mean for Drums of Winter and other documentaries to be shown in a theater? Drums of Winter was originally shot in 16mm film and designed to be seen on the big screen. Seeing the film in a theater is a completely different experience than watching a DVD; the world of the people in the film comes alive in the most dynamic and beautiful way.

The film could not have been shown in its original 16mm format without restoration. Old film prints have aged and deteriorated and could not survive the rigors of running through a film projector.  As part of the restoration process, a new printing negative was made from the original camera materials, giving us the highest image resolution possible.

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The Drums of Winter restoration project is funded by the Rasmuson Foundation and the National Film Preservation Foundation. Stay tuned for more information about the project.

Photo Captions (from top, left to right): Emmonak Dance leader Evan Hamilton in his kitchen; the late Father Rene Astruc discussing the power of traditional Yup’ik dance; Stanley Waska demonstrates movements of “happiness lifting me up” in the film Drums of Winter;  a young dancer carries on the tradition of dance in the Kasiguq; masked dancers from the film Drums of Winter (Oregon Provence Archives); Len Kamerling and film preservation specialist Andrew Whitmore working on the Drums of Winter Restoration project.