The Regional Review

Volume I - No. 5

November, 1938


By Walter B. Jones, Director,
J. T. DeJarnette, Jr., Assistant Curator.
Alabama Museum of Natural History.

The need for more museums with a wide popular appeal has long been recognized. Some of the larger museums are meeting this need by taking the necessary steps to bring their exhibits to a level which can be appreciated by the average non-scientific citizen. The smaller isolated institutions, as a rule, however, have not completely met this trend. Too often they are a mere jumble of catalogued specimens having little interest for other than the specialist.

layout of exhibits

To a mineralogist the structure, formation and characteristics of a crystal of calcite is routine information. To the casual visitor this information, properly set forth on labels in simple language, is a revelation. The average small museum can hope to interest specialists only in that it contains local specimens and data not found elsewhere. No matter how small the collections, it can, and does, interest the layman, if the collections are attractively and sparingly displayed with adequate descriptive labels.

Such a museum is planned for Mound State Monument, Moundville, Alabama. It will be designed to appeal to the visitor of average intelligence and will presuppose no knowledge of archeology. The structure is in the form of one large center section with flanking wings of smaller size.

The central portion will be devoted to a display of type material encountered at Moundville, to a series of cases having the migrations of the American Indians and the progression of their cultural traits, and to dioramas showing how the people lived. Colored labels, animated figures, attractive backgrounds and all the other many devices of good advertising art will be employed in this portion of the building to attract and hold the interest of the visitor.

Each of the two wings contains in situ burial pits just as they were uncovered by excavating crews in the summer of 1926. Temporary shelters have been built over the pits. These will be removed after the building is completed to expose the burials and artifacts, in place, from a walk way around three sides of the rooms.

The building is of fireproof construction throughout with floor, walls and roof of reinforced concrete. Interior walls are furred out with hollow tile and overhead ceiling will be plastered on metal lath. A basement contains a hot air furnace and a forced air ventilating system which will be used both for heating the structure and for keeping the interior free from dampness.

Only one opening in the structure is to be provided. Lighting will be completely artificial and thereby controllable. Prismatic lights in the ceiling will give an even, low foot candle illumination for the entire structure and exhibits will be lighted individually with concealed display case type fixtures. The burial will be lighted with trough lights, concealed in the coping of the parapet walls around the walkways.

Inasmuch as provisions are contemplated for study, restoration and storage in another part of the park, no facilities for these operations are provided in the museum building.

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Date: 04-Jul-2002