Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
PLANNING A PARK MUSEUM
HOW OTHER PARK AND OUTSIDE AGENCIES CAN AID IN STARTING A MUSEUM.
By C. Frank Brockman
Each park and particularly its naturalist has a definite responsibility to the development of the educational work. Each park represents some great truth of natural history–each is outstanding in some feature of interest to the public–and if we are to utilize these regions to the utmost in presenting the story of natural history they must be developed in a uniform manner so that their particular chapter in the story can be readily understood.
Some parks are already fairly far advanced in the development of museums. These have a particular responsibility in this connection as they have a better understanding of the requisites of this feature. May I suggest that some system be devised in which all plans and developments in any park be made available to other parks so that when museums are built we will all have the benefit of a knowledge of these developments and a broader conception of what has gone before. In the case of the new Yellowstone Trailside Museum, if plans, photos, etc., of that structure were available to Mt. Rainier National Park we would be better able to formulate our own plans in that regard and when the time came we would be able to take advantage of such experience. Perhaps it might also be well to include, in our monthly reports, any new ideas or suggestions that proved successful relative to the entire scope of our work and that these be compiled in a monthly news letter for all Naturalists.
It might be well to include one or two exhibits from other parks in the museum to serve to illustrate the complete story of the system. Also in the accessioning of exhibits if some feature is offered that is not suited to one park and is suited to another steps should be taken to aid in placing this exhibit in its proper locality.
Thus, as far as the parks are concerned, a system of interrelationship whereby ideas, plans, information and exhibits could be worked out so that uniform, representative and respectable museums could be established throughout the entire system.
In the case of outside agencies however, a new angle enters the field. This develops through a natural desire to further the cause of conservation and advancement of scientific knowledge, both popular and otherwise. Outside agencies such as universities, technical organizations, academies of science, conservation leaders, publications, mountaineering clubs, etc., can be of vital assistance in many ways. As a rule such organizations are more than glad to aid in any way possible–to exchange services in the matter of technical cooperation. In this manner a broader training will be made available to the Naturalist that will be reflected in specimens gathered for exhibition purposes and will build up good will and an understanding, the value of which cannot be overemphasized. But from the stand point of immediate results assistance with outside organizations is of great importance in that we reach a maximum of interested people with a minimum of effort. By being closely allied with them we are able to get a sympathetic audience for our story and these people being actively engaged in the cause of conservation, can thereby aid in the personal contribution of exhibits, books, and aid in the development of museum plans for the park.
In the discussion which followed Mr. Brockman’s paper, it was brought out that machinery already exists for the correlation of museums in the national parks — work which is being undertaken at the present time under Field Naturalist Russell and Chief Naturalist Hall.
All present were agreed that there should be some method of presenting to the Park Naturalists a summary of newly developed museum methods or the principles of standard methods now in use in museums as applicable to museums in national parks. It was proposed that a manual for national park museum practice be developed but that this material would be sent out gradually by Educational Headquarters, the most important subjects being covered first in a series of short mimeographed sheets to be known as “The Park Naturalists Forum.”
The Park Naturalists agreed to append to each monthly report one or more short articles concerning principles or methods which they have developed in their individual parks which would be applicable to the work in other parks. Also the Park Naturalists will at this time each month submit questions on methods or technique in museum practice or the other fields of educational work which they are administering. These questions will be answered by the Educational Headquarters staff in a form which will be useful to all Park Naturalists and included in the Park Naturalists Forum. Each item submitted for the Park Naturalists Forum will be accompanied by a bibliography on that subject.
Whenever possible, these articles will be illustrated by simple sketches or with photographs. In the latter case, if negatives can be supplied prints will be made for all Park Naturalists.
It was agreed that each Park Naturalist will arrange with his Superintendent to read the monthly report from all parks, which is circulated from Washington Headquarters, in order to inform himself of the educational activities in other parks.
It was agreed that each park museum should, if possible, be an official member of the American Association of Museums.