Bone Room Meditations XVII: Articulate – Articulated

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

articulate

Adjective: (of a person or person’s words) having the ability to speak fluently and coherently.

articulated

Adjective: 1) having two or more sections connected by a flexible joint. 2) (of an idea or feeling) expressed; put into words …

A significant amount of my time has been spent in museum bone stores. Here I have observed – in plain, buff coloured cardboard boxes with neat, hand-written labels – the boxed-up bone-kits that might one day offer the pieces that curators need to construct the delicate, articulated skeletons of zoological specimens for museum display. This they may do, with careful hands, if the educational value of such constructions is deemed to justify the allocation of necessary funding …

The larger animal bones generally spread their load over a number of shelves – sometimes half of a horse, for example, will sit next to a hippo or in some other such unlikely juxtaposition; like so much disjointed, chimerical Airfix. Smaller animals (such as amphibians) occupy their own, individual, cardboard boxes – little rectilinear sarcophagi, with terse inscriptions.

Some of this material is effectively redundant – it might not see the light of day for decades between museum audits. But it might also provide the much-needed building blocks from which we could articulate our bestiary of skeletal beasts.

What would be the moral implications of plundering these carcasses? Is it really fair that all of this wondrous substance should be locked away in the dark? Surely a little creative articulation, a little jointing together of new ‘zoological ideas’ might offer a use – and a new value – for all of this piled up bone?

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