In Glover: What you never knew about the toothbrush

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Clare Dolan, the guiding intelligence of the Museum of Everyday Life, stands outside of her young institution alongside a giant toothbrush built by Newark artist Martin McGowan.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Clare Dolan, the guiding intelligence of the Museum of Everyday Life, stands outside of her young institution alongside a giant toothbrush built by Newark artist Martin McGowan. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle June 25, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

GLOVER — The word “everyday” means usual or common. It might seem, then, that the Museum of Everyday Life would be a humdrum collection of boring objects. The selection of themes covered in the museum’s four-year history — matches, safety pins, pencils, and, now, toothbrushes — might do nothing to change that view.

A visit to the museum, though, quickly upends any such preconception. Curator Clare Dolan has filled an old dairy barn with a collection of exhibits that uses dental hygiene alone as a lens through which to view the world.

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Most complete T. rex comes to the Montshire museum May 17

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 4.37.22 PMThe most iconic dinosaur that ever lived is on its way to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. The exhibit, “A T. rex Named Sue,” scheduled to open Saturday, May 17, features a cast of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) ever discovered.

At 42-feet long, 3,500 pounds, and 12 feet tall at the hips, this fully articulated cast skeleton is the keystone piece of this traveling exhibition which also includes replicated dinosaur fossils, video footage, free-standing interactive exhibits and colorful graphics.

Montshire visitors will be able to get hands-on with replicas of Sue’s arm bone, tail, rib and teeth, engage in interactive activities, learn how the T. rex saw, ate and sniffed out prey, and view footage showing the changing perceptions of T. rex over the past 100 years.

Sue is the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever unearthed and is one of the most significant fossil finds to date. Fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson found the specimen in 1990 in the Hell Creek Formation near Faith, South Dakota. In 1997, the Field Museum purchased the 67-million-year-old fossil at auction for $8.4-million, setting the world record for the highest price ever paid for a fossil.

Only four T. rex specimens containing more than 60 percent of their original skeleton have been found. Sue is at least 90 percent complete — only a foot, one arm, and a few ribs and vertebrae are missing. Because of its near completeness, the specimen has presented the scientific community with a variety of new evidence, and with it Field Museum scientists made important new discoveries about the biology and evolution of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Sue will be assembled in Montshire’s Main gallery and offers visitors the chance to discover what these professionals have learned.

The exhibit “A T. rex Named Sue” runs from May 17 through September 7, at the Montshire Museum of Science. It will be the first time the exhibition has been to northern New England.

Admission to “A T. rex Named Sue” is free with museum admission; $16 for adults, $14 for children ages two to 17, and free for Montshire members and children under two years of age.

The Montshire Museum will be closed from May 12 to 14 during the installation of “A T. rex Named Sue.”

This exhibit was created by the Field Museum in Chicago, and is made possible through the generosity of McDonald’s Corporation. Local sponsorship is provided by Geokon, as well as Lake Sunapee Bank, and King Arthur Flour. Media sponsorship is provided by WCAX and NHPR. — from the Montshire Museum of Science.

For more things to do, see our Events page.

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Museum of Everyday Life opens with match stick exhibit

by Tena Starr
copyright June 1, 2011
GLOVER — There’s a theory, at least, that the first matches were invented by women in China while their city was under siege.  Since they couldn’t gather tinder and start fires in the usual way, they used what was at hand, which happened to be white phosphorous.
Thus, the match, which they called a “light-bearing slave.”
There were problems, however, with white phosphorous matches.  For instance, the people who made them were prone to coming down with “phossy jaw,” an infection of the jaw caused by exposure to phosphorous.  The disease started with toothaches and swollen gums and progressed to abcessed jawbones that had to be removed.  The affected bones would glow greenish-white in the dark.  Brain damage was also a symptom.  Victims were either grossly disfigured, or died.
Eventually, matchmakers (the literal type) moved to using red phosphorous, which doesn’t cause the disease.
Matches are one of those everyday items that most of us don’t give much thought to.
Clare Dolan, however, has thought about matches quite a lot.  She also thinks about safety pins, zippers, paper clips, and all kinds of other objects that
most of us consider so innocuous that their existence, much less their history, barely enters our minds.
This coming weekend Ms. Dolan’s Museum of Everyday Life, will open.  Don’t expect spectacle, but do expect to learn something, and to be entertained.
The initial exhibit will be called Fire! and will include at least some of the following:  The history of the match, sulfer and its properties, the international collection of things made from matchsticks, an X-rated collection of pornographic matchboxes (well, not exactly pornographic), portraits of the Glover Volunteer Fire Department, and the arson evidence collection.
Ms. Dolan is a nurse by profession.   She also works with the Bread and Puppet Theater, and involves herself in other ways in the arts.  About seven years ago, she bought a big old house on Route 16 in Glover.  It includes a barn, and that space opened up new artistic possibilities.
“I’m not really a farmer lady,” she said.  “I didn’t think about getting a lot of cows.  I just maybe thought about getting a donkey.
In fact, she does have a donkey.  His job is to mow the lawn, and he appears to be reasonably efficient at it.  Nancy the goat also lives there, but her function in life is more social — she’s the greeter.
Ms. Dolan said in an interview Sunday that she’s always been interested in collections and displaying objects.
“This just springs out of that interest,” she said.  “I take a lot of pleasure in everyday life objects.  Like, how did they invent the paperclip?  And batteries and matches and thimbles and zippers?”
Everything in Ms. Dolan’s museum is an object with a cost of $5 or less.  Not that she’s selling her displays; it’s just that she wants to stick to a celebration of the small, unglamorous and everyday.
The subject of her initial exhibition was a choice between safety pins and matches, she said, but she had more material on matches.  “Matches, like most everyday objects, have a lot of interesting history.”
There was, for instance, the evolution of the matchbook from the match box.  The matches in a box contained enough white phosphorous to kill someone.
“By scraping off the matches, people could kill themselves, and they did,” Ms. Dolan said.
Matchboxes and books were used for all sorts of endeavors.  For instance, Ms. Dolan acquired a bizarre collection of small matchboxes that show on their covers photographs of the Soviet dogs that went into space.
Beer companies used matchboxes in their advertising campaigns.
Matches were called lucifers and still are in some places.
And then there’s phillumeny — the hobby of collecting match-related ephemera, of which Ms. Dolan herself might be considered guilty, though she
might prefer pointing to some unknown fellow who was in the military and collected matchbooks from all over the West Coast, including Alaska.
“This guy spent a lot of time in nightclubs and dance halls,” she said, pointing to the collection of rather artistic matchbooks.  She noted that it’s possible to tell a lot about a person by what they choose to collect.
But the crown jewel of her match collection is likely an assortment of instruments — violins, a banjo, and a mandolin — built entirely of match sticks.  They were made by a man named Dale Brown who was in prison at the start of his unlikely and time-consuming project.
“He only had access to matches and white glue,” Ms. Dolan said.  “He stained them with coffee.”
The museum also includes the “Beastiary,” a whimsical zoo of creatures whose appearance is enhanced by the addition of matchsticks.
The museum will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. throughout the summer.  It’s self-service, meaning show up, turn the lights on, and turn them off when you leave.  Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
The museum’s official opening will be on Saturday, June 4.  It’s located on Route 16 south of Glover Village in the barn adjacent to a big yellow house.

contact Tena Starr at tena@bartonchronicle.com

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