The leg bone is connected to the hip bone, the hip bone is connected to the backbone, the backbone is connected to the shoulder bone… sound familiar? The other day I mentioned that working in the history field meant connecting the threads of the past together. Well, as an intern at the International Preservation Studies Center, I found myself connecting together something rather strange: body parts.
Before you call the police on the IPSC staff, let me reassure you that when I say body parts, I mean fiberglass ones. More specifically, mannequin ones. Tolman Hall gained two new residents this past week; although, they required some assembly before they looked like anything other than boxes of body parts. The process of putting together these fiberglass mannequins was pretty easy, and made all the more fun by trading body-part related puns with Nelson, IPSC’s maintenance man, as we built them. “Let me offer you a hand” and “Don't lose your head” were some of our favorites.
Though our new mannequins do not have heads of their own, the IPSC staff agreed that they were decidedly less creepy than our older models. Despite the older mannequins’ habits of sneaking up on people as they come around corners, these models come with an interesting backstory. According to Steven Rosengard, the instructor for our Mannequin Making Workshop and an IPSC veteran, these two mannequins came to the campus from the Field Museum.At the Field Museum they were part of an exhibit involving Japan and its culture.
You will find many items throughout IPSC’s campus that come from institutions around the country. As a school for historic preservation, IPSC needs artifacts in its collection on which students can practice new techniques. The International Preservation Studies Center is all about giving its students hand-on experience and an in depth look at the details of preservation, conservation, and exhibition.
Mannequins are incredibly important for the exhibition of textiles and creating context in which artifacts are presented. Along with the Ethafoam torsos in our supply closets and styrofoam heads sitting on our shelves, all the mannequins in Tolman Hall will be used in IPSC courses Mannequin Making Workshop and Displaying Historic Textiles. For now though, the new fiberglass mannequins will keep each other company in the Harold Mailand Textile Suite while the Field Museum models continue surprising unsuspecting students on the second floor.
For those of you who are wondering what else there is to do at the Center besides hiding mannequins around corners and scaring students, check back here next week! Let’s just say that IPSC keeps you wanting S’more!