The art and science of window washing

by Bill Lackner, Tour Guide at Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, and Anne Fairchild, Eastern Region Program Manager

When it comes time to cleaning windows at the Lanier Mansion, there are extra things to consider. After all, some of the glass dates back to 1844!

First, there is the old method of using  gravity as the main method to flatten the surface of blown glass.  Because this system wasn’t perfect, the imperfections and distortions you see can make weak areas in the glass.  Also, this method did not allow them to make large panes, so we have many tiny windows supported by wooden frames instead of one large window. This makes the job even harder! 

Then there is the new technology to consider: A thin film filter was applied to the interior surface of the glass to block ultraviolet light. This filter protects textiles, papers and other surfaces from damaging sunlight coming through the windows. Any abrasions to this delicate film can cause damage from the sun in the future.

Then there is the outside. These windows are large and very high up in the air! They are pretty hard to get to and you need to take great care to prevent damage to the old window panes, the window frames and blinds (today we call them shutters). So, where do you put the ladder? It gets tricky.

Of course the biggest hazard is falling off the ladder. Any volunteers?

What is this stuff?

by Jeff Tenuth, Science and Technology Collection Manager

[Continued from Uncovering the truth]

There are two questions that a historian asks at this point: What is the material I’m looking at and what does it mean? In other words, what does this material tell me about the world of the past? How does it help me to understand how people lived their lives? By retrieving and analyzing this material, we can learn how people lived, what they ate, the kinds of materials they made and used, the kind of work they did and how they played. Science finds the material and history tells us what it means. And you would be surprised at what we’ve found over the years.

Bone fragments tagged and bagged.

What we find generally falls into five different categories: faunal, glass, ceramic, metal and (what I call) “everything else.” Faunal material consists of various animal bones, teeth, snails, mussels, egg shells, seeds and anything else organic. This material helps us understand what people ate nearly two centuries ago. Diet might not seem very important, but by analyzing what people ate, we can determine part of the general state of their health. Continue reading

Unique, fun and full of surprises

The eighth annual Indiana Art Fair is just around the corner. This unique show of fine art and crafts will feature 75 artists from around the state, representing 22 counties. You will see as many new faces as well as show regulars.

Signature Artist Lee Cohn, Jewelry, Monroe County

Signature Artist Lee Cohn, Jewelry, Monroe County

Always a favorite is the Signature Artist. For 2011, it’s fine jewelry maker Lee Cohn of Bloomington! Cohn creates very unique geometric gold jewelry with fine gems. Each Signature Artist is asked to create a piece that emulates Indiana or the museum. This allows the artist to create a one-of-a-kind piece that truly reflects their point of view on Indiana. Cohn has created a bracelet based on the double mobius strip, a geometric configuration that only has one side. For Cohn, this shape represents Indiana’s iconic state nickname “Crossroads of America.”

For this event, the Indiana State Museum is bringing back its evening reception on Friday, Feb. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. where you can get a jump on buying that next piece for your collection. Admission for Friday is $5.50, or free for members. The event continues on Saturday, Feb. 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $3 per member and $10 per non-member (museum admission is included in your ticket price).

Download a list of exhibiting artists!

Charlene Marsh, Painting, Brown County

Charlene Marsh, Painting, Brown County

Pam Niccum, Glass, Hamilton County

Pam Niccum, Glass, Hamilton County