Research blog

Fossil collections from Pleistocene South America in the MNHN

by Richard Fariña, Sebastián Tambusso and Luciano Varela, UdelaR
Collectors Teodoro Vilardebó and François Séguin had their fossils sold to the MNHN and many important specimens are highlighted here as examples of the treasures of the past that, having been found in the then new republics of the Plata along the 19th century, moved to one of the centres of intellectual endeavours in Europe

Advantages of Digital Techniques for Curating, Networking and Exhibition-Making

by Simon Hirzel, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
French museums are using the digital and virtual possibilities not only for the management of databases and the search for exhibition objects, but also for the analog exhibition design

Taburete de elefante se decomisa

por Irina Podgorny y Susana V. García, Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata, Argentina
Un objeto más que particular: los taburetes o paragüeros hechos con patas de elefante, una tipología que habla de épocas no muy lejanas y de un comercio subsidiario a la explotación del marfil y la caza mayor en África

How two amateur botanists from peripheries assembled important herbaria from different parts of Europe

by Neus Ibáñez, Museu Ciencies Naturals Barcelona (Institut Botanic de Barcelona)
Herbaria assembled in provinces by amateur botanists like E. Monguillon or Longí Navas, are of great interest to the scientific community as they show the spread of knowledge and science across many countries and explain many changes that took place at that time

Recovery of fragments in the Salvador Cabinet

by Neus Ibáñez, Museu Ciencies Naturals Barcelona (Institut Botanic de Barcelona)
The team of Botanic Institute of Barcelona and the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona found the meteorite fragments of the Salvador collection in a glass jar referenced as number 205 along with a small envelope with the annotation written in Catalan “n°205 Meteorite?”

La moda de los canastos de armadillo / Armadillo basket fashion

by Susana V. García, CONICET-Museo de La Plata
The history of armadillo baskets in various private collections – and later state museums – is in large part a reflection of trade networks, collecting practices and fashions for new curiosities and collectibles

The reception of Cesare Lombroso’s theories in France: the case of Le Mans’ learned society

by Franco Capozzi, University of Turin
According to Lombroso, criminal behavior was not the result of a free will, but of a biological predisposition. Criminals were basically “throwbacks” to an earlier stage of human evolution. The theory of the “born criminal” travelled all over the world and had an enormous influence on nineteenth century European culture, even though it had no scientific basis

An iridescent pendant made with beetle’s elytra

by Adriana E. MarvaldiCONICET/División Entomología del Museo de La Plata
The beetles and their elytra come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. No wonder that in so many cultures, of all times and all around the world, iridescent beetles and their parts are integrated into ornaments full of beauty and symbolism

Des crânes voyageurs. A propos de quelques crânes et moulages venus de France conservés dans les réserves du Musée de La Plata / Traveling skulls. About some skulls and casts from France kept in the storerooms of the Museum of La Plata

by Nathalie Richard, Le Mans Université
Among the skulls from France kept at the La Plata Museum, some have traveled more than others, since they have crossed the Atlantic twice

Sweating pots

by Irina Podgorny, CONICET/Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata
YDROCÉRAME”, Fourmy’s neologism, was composed of two words of Greek origin: “Ydros” which referred to sweat, and keramos, to clay pots. This designated the family of glasses that sweated and any container of earth whose permeability enabled it to cool its contents thanks to the property of cooling by means of the transudation mechanism

Circulation of algae in exsiccatae: James Lloyd’s collections

by Louise Couëffé, University of Angers
James Lloyd was an amateur botanist author of local floras in western France. He gathered an important herbarium from 1838 to 1895 and was in correspondence with several important botanists of this period, such as François Crépin (1830–1903)

Museos de provincia: historias a uno y otro lado del mar

por Irina Podgorny, CONICET/Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata
En 1896, el escritor y lexicógrafo Frédéric Mistral fomentaba, bajo su mecenazgo, la creación de una comisión para dotar a Arlés de un museo regional de Etnografía. Arlés es una de las ciudades del Ródano, uno de los ríos más caudalosos de Europa y un elemento clave en la organización de los territorios de su cuenca

Mobility on Track: the past and the future of railway in the Yucatan peninsula

by Hamid Alberto Abud Russell, Heidelberg University
Mobility in the Yucatan Peninsula is in a state of flux. The Mayan Train, the controversial project of current Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, promises to upend decades of neglect in terms of federal investment in the region’s infrastructure and bring about an era of unprecedented economic growth

Eine schwangere Frau von vor 800 Jahren

von Carla Jaimes Betancourt, Universität Bonn
Während Objekte über Jahrhunderte hinweg intakt bleiben und in Museen gelangen können, wie diese Figur einer schwangeren Frau (BASA Inv.-Nr. 1720), verändern sich die kulturellen und natürlichen Umgebungen, aus denen sie kommen, kontinuierlich. So auch im Fall von San Joaquín in den Llanos de Mojos, wo vor ca. 800 Jahren eine Frau lebte, die zur Herstellung dieser Keramikfigur inspirierte

Almejas gigantes

por Irina Podgorny, CONICET/Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata
Acquasantiera en italiano, bénitier en francés, benditera en castellano: son los nombres que se le da al objeto que la tridacna encarna pero que, en el caso de la lengua francesa, también se usa para denominar a la propia almeja en una historia larga de asociaciones y de difusión como elemento eclesiástico

Les correspondances du botaniste François Crépin (1830–1903)

by Denis Diagre-Vanderpelen (Meise Botanical Garden)
Le Jardin botanique de Meise recèle une quantité extraordinaire de courriers de botanistes et autres scientifiques. Leur dépouillement offre une magnifique opportunité de saisir la circulation des idées, certes, mais aussi celle des échantillons

Busto del Hombre de Neandertal / Bust of the Neanderthal Man

by Marina Laura Sardi, Universidad Nacional de La Plata
This bust is inspired by the fossil recovered in 1856 in the Feldhofer cave, in the Neander Valley (Germany). It is one of the first Neanderthal specimens which informed the representation of the Cave Man in the imaginary of the 19th century

Collecting for Seed Testing

by Anaïs Got, University of Angers
In agriculture it all starts with a seed. Since the end of the 19th century, a new agronomic speciality “Seed Testing” spread as one of the fundamental aspects of the State’s intervention in national agriculture

Le tatou de la collection Maulny au Musée vert / The armadillo from the Maulny collection at the Musée vert

by Nathalie Richard, Le Mans Université, and Nicolas Morel, Le Musée vert
This dried specimen is native to Brazil. On its carapace, the inscription “Armadillo” is visible. It comes from the curiosity cabinet of Louis Maulny (1758–1815), a collector and naturalist from Le Mans who probably bought it in a natural history shop

Un galet poli mexicain à Carnac / A Mexican polished pebble at Carnac

par Nathalie Richard, Le Mans Université
Dans les réserves du Musée de préhistoire de Carnac se trouve un galet d’apparence ordinaire, étiqueté comme « galet poli archéologie précolombienne ». Protégé dans une pochette plastifiée, il repose dans une caisse au côté d’autres objets également identifiés comme précolombiens, authentiques ou fac-simile, dont plusieurs sont brisés

The Salvador collection in Barcelona

by José Pardo-Tomás, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científica
The Salvador collection is unique in the sense that it has been in the hands of the same family since its foundation in the 17th century until it was acquired and converted into a scientific heritage of Barcelona’s city in the 20th century

Collections of the “Cesare Lombroso” Museum of Criminal Anthropology

by Cristina Cilli, University of Turin
The Museum houses important collections concerning the study of crime and criminals, of insanity and the insane. Cesare Lombroso collected objects made in prison and in the asylum, but also an extensive documentation of the physiognomy of criminals and the insane, inspired by a widespread European tradition

Arroyo del Vizcaíno, Uruguay (es) / (en)

by Richard Fariña and Martín Batallés, Universidad de la Republica
The Arroyo del Vizcaíno palaeontological site, near the town of Sauce, Uruguay, tells a story of giant mammals now disappeared, with the particular addition of possible evidence of a very ancient human presence

Un tren de gliptodontes / A train of glyptodonts

by Irina Podgorny, CONICET/Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata
At the end of the 19th century, the Museo de La Plata installed a train of glyptodonts demonstrating the richness of the pampas and the importance that the exhibition of nature could acquire in the new institutions of the province

Salvador’s Cabinet of Curiosities

by Neus Ibáñez, Museu Ciencies Naturals Barcelona (Institut Botanic de Barcelona)
The Salvador family created a scientific cabinet in the back room of their old pharmacy in Barcelona. It comprised a magnificent library, herbarium, handwritten documents, collections of molluscs, fossils, drugs, and several pieces of vegetables and stuffed animals