Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 at The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport CT, Quinnipiac University
professors Jerry Conlogue and Ron Beckett used a portable X-ray system from Kubtec
to uncover some damage inside the plaster cast bust of P.T. Barnum created by
Thomas Ball in the 1880s. These X-ray images revealed a sub-surface crack on the
nose of the bust. No visible damage could be seen on the outside. Quinnipiac University
has had Kubtec's Kubscan CR scanner for two weeks and the professors were testing
it at the museum to make sure it worked properly before they take it to Ecuador
in January to study many mummies. Kubtec is a Milford CT based manufacturer of
digital imaging products, so representatives from the firm were on hand to also
make sure it was functioning properly.
these paleoimaging techniques, other complex artifacts were X-rayed to assess
the internal condition and stability, particularly after the massive environmental
impact of the tornado in 2010.
X-rays of Lavinia Warren's (Tom Thumb's wife)
dress form revealed unexpected results. Beneath the outer construction, two 19th
century corsets were evident, and scale modifications became apparent when the
X-rays were compared to the original 1878 patent designs of the form, which was
on file at the museum.
FEEJEE Mermaid reproduction, based on the version of the mermaid which P.T. Barnum
exhibited in his American Museum in 1842, revealed very simple construction using
modern parts and materials. On the inside was a plain wire form underneath the
gruesome appearing exterior. Previous X-rays of 19th century versions of the mermaid
show that the creature was actually made with a monkey skull and torso, and a
fish tail for the lower body.
Beckett explained, "It
is very important for museums to understand their collection from the inside,
out because this helps them to know how to best preserve and conserve delicate
and intricate objects. Curators need to know what is happening internally. We
are delighted that the Kubtec scanner and scopes used Tuesday uncovered some internal
deterioration and thereby allowing the museum to arrest, slow and/or repair some
potentially harmful damage to portions of their priceless collection."
the research were Ronald (Ron) Beckett Ph.D., FAARC, Professor Emeritus, Biomedical
Sciences, Quinnipiac University and Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Bioanthropology
Research Institute along with Gerald (Jerry) Conlogue. Conlogue is professor
of diagnostic imaging in the School of Health Sciences at Quinnipiac University
in Hamden CT, a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a research
associate for the Museum of London in England. Beckett is a Fulbright Scholar
in Anthropology, a National Geographic Explorer, on the graduate faculty at Rush
University in Chicago IL and a research Associate in the Department of Physical
Anthropology for the Museum of Man in San Diego CA.
learn more about The Barnum Museum's current Recovery in Action exhibition and
programs visit: barnum-museum.org or call 203-331-1104. You can also visit them
on Facebook, view past programs at barnummuseumexhibitions.org
or communicate on Twitter @BarnumMuseum.
For more information on Kubtec visit
kubtec.com or the blog created
by Professor Conlogue on their website: http://kubtec.com/2012/08/mummies-other-x-ray-imaging-uses/
Interested individuals can also search Bioanthropology on Facebook to join on
line conversations with others on this topic.