The coyote skulls have arrived from San Diego Natural History Museum, ready for me to draw. They were sent to the Cal Academy on loan, as museum specimens can't just be sent to people's homes. When reading my CAS member newsletter a few months ago, I learned than an old colleague, then a postdoc, from my tech days at the National Zoo in 2001, is now a part of the Mammal/Birds curatorial staff! It was nice to have a contact, as it made the skull loan very easy.
CAS collections staff are actually very welcoming of artists. I was told of a number of other art projects involving specimens, and was given a tour of various places that artists could work, in the non-public areas. Today I was set up in the prep room, to photograph my skulls. Prepping what? you might wonder. Prepping specimens. Apparently, Ornithology was in the midst of defrosting their freezer, and thus the freezer's contents were arrayed over the large central work table. Having my camera handy already, it was hard to resist taking photos.
If you've been to CAS, you may have noticed the display lab on the main floor, somewhat behind the rain forest hemisphere along the back wall. This is where they put scientists on display so the public can ogle Science In Action via large glass walls. This is also where they place artists. There's even one work station with a video camera, that transmits a live feed of eagle-eye zoomed in action to a screen in the public area. This is where they will put me, so people can watch my tedious stippling and observe my hangnails.