Imagine a preserved coyote, perched with its mouth agape right in the lobby of a bank; or a great horned owl, mounted with inquisitive eyes looking over its shoulder at a local chiropractor's office. In the small town of Cable, specimens like the coyote or owl taxidermy occasionally become a spectacle in ordinary offices or business lobbies. The surrounding community of northern Wisconsin's Cable Natural History Museum has opened its arms to representatives of the Museum's collections, gaining experiences that inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility.
Not all find the time, ability, or even interest in exploring the insides of a museum. To better serve the public, many institutions have adopted traveling collections or traveling exhibit programs. Traveling collections are mobile forms of specimen display. Museums loan out specimens while also developing interpretive signage and providing display options. For members of the community, a hurried trip to the local bank may become a chance to discover that two seemingly similar birds, the cooper's hawk and sharp-shinned hawk, in fact differ in not only size but also in species. Such chance discoveries can arise from a collaboration between museums and other organizations.
The cooper's hawk (left) and sharp-shinned hawk (right) appear fairly similar,
but a close look reveals several differences.
A fascination with the wonders of the natural world is innate to humans. We often pick up small bits of nature for safekeeping or stop in our tracks at the sight of charismatic megafauna like wolves, bears, or elk. Animals like this fuel endless fascination, but how many of us have peacefully encountered one within arm's reach? Museums provide an opportunity to get close to such wonderful specimens. Even without a visit to a museum, the public may find that museums provide resources for education and discovery.
|Former Curator and Collections Monitor install a|
white-tailed deer specimen at Don Johnson Motors.
The Cable Natural History Museum began the practice of sharing specimens with local businesses last summer. With a trusty collections cart, carefully prepared paperwork, and a plan, the Curator begins a specimen's journey to the outside world. So far, local buildings that housed our specimens include: the Cable branch of Chippewa Valley Bank, Cable Chiropractic, Hayward Chamber of Commerce, Timber Ford of Hayward, Inc., Don Johnson Motors, and at one point the Sherman and Ruth Weiss Community Library in Hayward.
Thanks to the interest of local businesses, our specimens have traveled to where the public can't help but notice them. With work to increase public exposure to our collections, the Museum hopes to continue providing experiences that support its mission.