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Department of Paleobiology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
PALEO ART HOME
ILLUSTRATION CARE
Illustration Techniques
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How we began

Top of cabinets with stored drawings

We began to provide archival care for our historical illustrations in 1995 after our dinosaur collections manager, Michael
Brett-Surman, discovered a set of approximately 1200 illustrations of dinosaur skeletal material on top of a specimen storage cabinet when he was checking for damage after a pipe burst in the ceiling (see photo at left). The beautiful original ink wash drawings he found (sample below) had been prepared for the famous paleontologist, Othniel Charles Marsh, in the late 19th century. Michael's discovery led us to begin an effort to find and properly care for these and other historical illustrations housed in the department.

Drawings from typical  folder


A typical Marsh folder contained several original illustrations including ink wash drawings, preliminary sketches, and transfer tracings for stone lithography. Many included skulls and skeletal restoration material. The folder shown at left contained drawings of the sacrum of
Triceratops.



Many of the illustrations we found in cabinets behind the scenes in the Department of Paleobiology were not identified. Therefore, a substantial amount of time was devoted to researching the origin and use for the illustrations. In the case of the Marsh drawings, Michael Brett-Surman recognized what they were right away.

PALEO ART HOME
ILLUSTRATION CARE
Illustration Techniques

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