Adventures in the Denison Museum: Not All Inches Are the Same

December 1st, 2014 by Megan Hancock
Gretchen Giltner '16 measuring works for Monomoy

Gretchen Giltner ’16 measuring works for Monomoy

This summer, I interned at the Denison Museum as the Monomoy Curatorial Intern. This entailed helping with the process of suggesting and preparing objects from the Museum’s permanent collection to go on view in the Denison President’s home – Monomoy Place. President Weinberg and his family live in Monomoy. I also had the privilege of helping to prepare some objects to go on display in the Museum’s Fall 2014 exhibition Curiosity. Throughout the process, I learned some important lessons about working in a museum. One of these lessons had to do with the nature of the “inch” and the importance of always checking your measurements.

Some of the objects chosen for Monomoy were two-dimensional works on paper, like two geometric Nassos Daphnis prints and two colorful Japanese woodblock prints. These prints needed to be framed and matted before they were hung in Monomoy. In order to frame the works of art, we needed to know their exact dimensions as well as their frame measurements and their window measurements.

Before my internship, I had no experience with framing. No framing experience at all, to be exact. My supervisor, Megan, taught me from the ground up. I started with measuring the dimensions of the art using a standard tape measure we had in the office. I recorded all these measurements in a spreadsheet order form to be sent to a frame supply shop. We ordered the framing supplies to the dimensions we needed, and then assembled the works of art in the Museum.

One of the works to be framed was a Nassos Daphnis print of red semicircles. This piece had already been measured by another intern, but I measured it again to make sure the previous measurements were correct. To my surprise, the new measurements did not match the old ones at all. Confused, I thought maybe there were two different Nassos Daphnis red semicircle prints and the one I was measuring just happened to be larger. Barely fazed, I continued with my measuring.

When time was approaching to order the framing supplies, I brought out a measuring tape and started to check over the measurements I had taken. This time, I used a different measuring tape. Since all inches are the same, I thought, it would not matter that I was using a different measuring tape. But as I measured the dimensions again, I noticed something strange: none of my new measurements were matching with the old measurements.

Perplexed, I found the measuring tape I had used in the beginning of the framing process and held it next to the new tape measure I was using. To my horror, the inches did not align! The inches on the old tape were significantly larger, meaning all of my preliminary measurements were incorrect. In the beginning of the summer, the Museum had ordered a shipment of red, blue, and yellow measuring tapes from China. It turns out all of these tapes had incorrect inches, even the fun blue measuring tape I had been using. We ended up getting rid of these tapes to avoid any further measuring conundrums.

Upon further investigation, I learned that, despite using the metric system, the Chinese use a unit of measurement called the “Chinese inch.” The Chinese inch is about 1.312 US inches. So, the Chinese measuring tapes were not wrong, per se, they just had inches that were not the same size as standard US inches.

After this discovery, I used a different measuring device to go back and measure the dimensions of each work of art again, this time using standard US inches. This was great practice for me as I was learning the methods of framing, but could have been disastrous had we placed the framing order, received framing supplies that did not fit the works of art, and then had to re-order supplies and potentially be late installing the art in Monomoy. Fortunately, we caught the problem just in time.

This experience taught me that it is of utmost importance to double check, if not triple check, your work. This is especially critical when framing works of art. This experience also taught me that, alas, not all inches are the same.

-Gretchen Giltner ’16

Ethel Visit’s the Denison Museum

November 19th, 2014 by Megan Hancock

Ethel musicians Ralph Farris, Dorothy Lawson, Tema Watstein, and Kip Jones visit Denison Museum. Watch and listen as they explore the Curiosity exhibition.

Learn more about the Vail Series
Discover more about the Ethel musicians

Microbes in the Museum

September 30th, 2014 by Megan Hancock

Watch how museums objects can inspire one amazing biology project!

Learn more about this the Microbes in the Museum project on Denison’s Biology department website

Green Revolution

March 14th, 2014 by Megan Hancock

On Thursday, February 27th, the Denison Museum opened its doors to a crowd of 300+ that included Denison students, faculty, and Granville residents. If you are one of the sad few who did not attend, then you missed out on delicious tacos and sweets. That’s right; there were tacos, FREE tacos, from the talented people at Taco Sherpa. I bet you feel bad now, don’t you? The good news is that you can still visit the museum to view an exhibit that we are particularly proud of: Green Revolution.

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Green Revolution is an exhibit that focuses on the idea of sustainability and being environmentally friendly. It showcases impressive works of art by Denison students that explore what it means to be ”green.” The gallery has been split up into five, distinct sections: Latin American Squatter Settlements; Ocean Acidification; Fracking; Hybrid Housing/The Denison Homestead; and a cushy reception area with couches and books in case you want to do some learning on your own.

We are open Monday-Saturday from 12:00-5:00pm on the first floor of Burke. Come by on your own, or bring friends down the hill to see our exciting new exhibit!

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See you at the museum!

A love for the DIY spirit

February 7th, 2014 by Denison Museum

Antelope mask. African, Kurumba tribe, (Burkina Faso), early 20th century. painted wood.		DU1990.32 Rehoused by Wataru Akamatsu ’14 and Kristine Mallinson ’15

Antelope mask. African, Kurumba tribe, (Burkina Faso), early 20th century. painted wood. DU1990.32
Rehoused by Wataru Akamatsu ’14 and Kristine Mallinson ’15


by Wataru Akamatsu ’14

When I was little, I spent most of my childhood at my grandparent’s house. My grandpa and I used to make up stories using puppets. It was very much like an improvisational theater, as all we had in the beginning was a theme such as “an animal island v human island,” “a market,” “pirates,” and anything we could think of, and we went from there, never knowing how the stories would end. For the improvisations, we needed stage sets for the puppets so we started to make things like ships, houses, and airplanes from cardboard. Making three-dimensional objects from one-dimensional material was demanding but very fun.

When I first came to Denison Museum in Fall 2012, I never expected to find a direct connection to this creative activity from my childhood. I thought that museum jobs were about putting up exhibitions, guarding galleries, and taking down the exhibitions in the end. I found that museums are also places where the permanent collections sleep in back storages. So here I am at Denison Museum, responsible for checking records for the collections and making proper beds for them. My fellow teammate, Kristine Mallinson ’15, and I use a variety of materials to make proper storage boxes: including acid free cardboard. This requires a lot of creativity as each object has a unique shape. We always have to come up with a new strategy to keep each object safe and secure.

It was after having worked at Denison Museum for one year that I finally realized there were connections between my childhood experience with my grandpa and my experience at the Museum. I found myself enjoying the making of boxes in the same way I enjoyed making cardboard stage sets with my grandpa. I have always liked creating something from scratch and I had not had a chance to do this type of activity at Denison until I came to the Museum. As my graduation is coming around the corner, I am very grateful for the opportunity at the Museum as it encouraged my life-long love for the DIY spirit.

Working with the unfamiliar

January 23rd, 2014 by Denison Museum

Kristine Mallinson '15

Kristine Mallinson ’15


by Kristine Mallinson ’15

Coming into Denison, I knew that archaeology was in my future. But, I never would have thought I would have found a job on the hill in which I was able to work with artifacts hands on. I first discovered Denison Museum when I took Semiotic Theory with Professor Lele the second semester of my first-year. I was immediately fascinated with the ancient brick collection. When I heard that there were openings at the Museum for the following academic year, I jumped on the opportunity to work with artifacts. To my surprise, I was hired.

All summer I thought about what I was going to be able to do with my job. To my, what was, disappointment, I was not assigned to work with the brick collection, but instead the African and Native American pocket collections with Wataru Akamatsu ‘14. These were both areas of history that I was not familiar with and I was completely scared. How was I going to be able to work with artifacts from cultures I was not familiar with? But, I am so thankful that I was assigned to these two collections because of what I was able to gain from working with the unfamiliar.

While I loved working with the African collection, I am fascinated by the Native American collection at the Museum. Ruth Merhab is the main donor of the collection. She traveled throughout the West and collected tons of objects that she later donated to the Museum. One reason why I love the collection so much is due to the hoops I have had to jump through with the inventory. Last Spring I worked on a total inventory of the collection. I picked up this work with three weeks left of work for the semester, not that much time to finish the total rehousing of a collection. Thus, Wataru and I were hoping that we could just take pictures and then rehouse the objects, but of course that was not the case.

We opened the first box of objects, Box W as it is known as, and right away we found objects that were never given a catalog number. Within a box of around forty pieces of jewelry, we had about fifteen objects without a catalog number. This means that these objects were never formally put into the collection or our database system. After talking with Anna Cannizzo, the Curator of Collections, we decided to develop a new catalog protocol.

The objects would be given FIM (Found In Museum) numbers. I have been able to assign fifty-three objects a FIM number and they will be put into our database system during Denison Museum’s upcoming Institute of Museum and Library Services: Museums for America grant project. Being able to assign a catalog system and giving these objects a place to have information gathered about them has been so rewarding. I am able to give life back to these objects and am forming a pathway for further research to be done on them. Thus, I like to think of it as a different form of archaeology. ‘Digging up’ these objects from our storage and connecting them with information so that we can learn more about our Native American collection.

“It was like a treasure hunt! (Referring to her work rehousing the Museum’s African collection)”

— Kristine Mallinson ’15