Posts tagged with identification

How to deal with human DNA contamination of your DNA sequencing: an example from a Malawian dance garment.

Dance garment, c. 1900, Malawi (Chewa culture), Photograph by Kate Whitley. Copyright Te Papa MA_I.374711

You’ve probably seen forensic scientists on TV taking swabs and fingerprints from crime scenes. They aren’t wearing labcoats, hairnets and gloves to look cool but to prevent them contaminating their forensic evidence with their own DNA. But how do scientists deal with items that are already contaminated with unwanted human DNA? I recently encountered this… Read more »

Very rare indeed: a Malawian dance garment

  • Hair fibers from each respective sampled area, GH024606; shown at 200x magnification. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • GH024606, detail of skins used to make the garment. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • Images of hair fibers removed from GH024606 showing exterior scale patterning and the structure of the interior. Images by A. Peranteau, copyright Te Papa.

Witchy tale In 1936, the Dominion Museum was given a gift so rare and strange that it made the news.  Described in the Auckland Star and in museum records as a “witch doctor’s outfit”, the garment was subsequently displayed for many years in the Buckle St building that opened that same year.   During an… Read more »

Fungi season and New Zealand identification resources

Entoloma hochstetteri. Leon Perrie CC BY-NC. http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/1397624

It’s getting cooler and wetter – ideal for the emergence of many fungi. This was brought home to me when I recently discovered an abundance of this distinctive little mushroom while holidaying near Rotorua. New Zealand’s fungal collections and professional expertise are concentrated at the Auckland campus of Landcare Research. The New Zealand Fungal and… Read more »

Photography, chemistry and technology – 4 days peering below the surface

  • weaver course 001a
  • Silver halides turn to metal.
  • Comparing different finishes on a group of prints made with the same image and printed on the same paper. Proving how hard it can be to identify different types of toning in prints so similar let alone of different subjects, papers and eras.
  • Viewing print surface of a cabinet card under microscope.

Last week, along with 15 other people from museums and galleries around New Zealand who work with photographic collections, I attended a course on the care and identification of photographic prints and negatives. The course was taken by Gawain Weaver, a photographic conservator from San Francisco and he also gave another course in Auckland two weeks… Read more »

Ask the feathers

Left: 'amakua hulu manu Kūka'ilimoku (feathered image), 1700s, maker unknown; feathers, animal teeth, pearl shell and plant fibres; gift of Lord St Oswald, 1912. Right: Close-up showing black Hawai'i mamo feathers used for the eyebrow

In early March, Te Papa Tongarewa was asked by an overseas museum if they could borrow ‘amakua hulu manu Kūka’ilimoku (feathered image) for an exhibition. As part of the process to allow or decline a loan, all the materials that make up an object need to be identified. We were unsure of the exact species… Read more »