LAWRENCE – The first of three phases to evaluate the historic Panorama exhibit at the KU Natural History Museum will begin with the arrival of a conservator and research team Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Led by Ronald Harvey, Tuckerbrook Conservation LLC of Lincolnville, Maine, the team will conduct a chemical analysis of the Panorama’s animal mounts, plants and backgrounds. Taxidermy, construction materials and other elements inside the Panorama will be evaluated for toxins such as arsenic and mercury. The group will also begin photographing conservation details of the exhibit.
Lewis Lindsay Dyche prepared the display originally as part of the Kansas exhibition at the 1893 World’s Fair, where it was visited by as many as 20,000 people per day. On its return to Kansas, the state Legislature funded the building of Dyche Hall in 1901 to house the Panorama as part of KU’s larger Natural History Museum.
Phase two of the conservation assessment will begin in March and apply the information learned about toxins to an in-depth analysis of the animal mounts and surroundings. The team will also lightly clean the animals, which have endured years of exposure to fluctuating temperature, humidity and light.
Ultimately, by summer 2014, the completed analysis will be used by the Biodiversity Institute, which includes the museum, to develop a conservation and exhibition plan for the Panorama for future generations.
The museum began raising funds for the conservation assessment in 2012, when KU alumni Kent and Janet Martin McKinney of Kerrville, Texas, contributed a challenge grant of $50,000. Dozens of museum friends and contributors matched their gift. An October 2013 fundraising event, Party in the Panorama, raised an additional $10,000 for the exhibit, bringing the total for the conservation effort to more than $110,000.
Contributions count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.