Dear Sam Noble Museum members,
As 2021 comes to a close, on behalf of the museum, I thank you, our members and donors, for your continuing support. Each of your memberships and donations are examples of purpose-filled generosity and are investments in the future of the museum and its mission “to inspire minds to understand the world through collection-based research, interpretation and education.”
The museum received several gifts this fall. The Bilby Foundation donated $25,000 to support current and future museum operations. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation awarded the museum $50,000 for its Discovery on the Road project, which will develop new discovery kits and traveling exhibits. The estate of Earl and Fran Ziegler gifted nearly $1.8 million to create a new endowment that will support exhibitions, educational and public programs, community outreach, research, exploration and preservation and stewardship of the collections that we hold in trust for the People of Oklahoma. We are so grateful for this strong financial support and vote of confidence in the museum. We have been through two very tough years, but our support in the community and our love for the work we do keeps us going through the difficult times.
We hope that you enjoyed our fall temporary exhibit schedule — Beautiful Beasts: The Unseen Life of Oklahoma Spiders, which opened Sept. 25 and continues through Jan. 30, 2022, in the Brown Gallery, and Guatemalan Textiles: Heart of the Mayan World (13 Sept-6 Dec 2021) in the Higginbotham Gallery. We are excited to bring you Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend during spring/summer 2022 (Feb. 12-June 19, 2022). This exhibit will allow you to explore the fascinating story behind nature’s most intriguing mammal tooth and will allow you to learn more about the “unicorn of the sea” and what makes this mysterious animal and its changing ecosystem so important.
In the coming year, we will be offering new youth, adult and family programs, and continue our weekly Crafts with Tales and monthly Curiousiday programs. To see a list of the programs planned for January-August 2022 go to the museum’s events calendar and education website or look for announcements in your monthly member email. Registration will open on Jan. 10 for all youth, adult and family programs, including 2022 Spring Break Camp, Summer Explorer Camps and day camps on Feb. 21 and April 29.
The museum’s curators, staff, research associates, graduate and undergraduate students and interns continue the long tradition of excellence in creative, research and collection management activities. Please give a big round of applause to Dahiana Arcila, curator of ichthyology, who was recently awarded a prestigious CAREER award and a grant for infrastructure improvements for the Collection of Fishes, both from the National Science Foundation. We will be bringing you highlights of research and collection activities throughout the year.
Over the last months we welcomed a new faculty curator and a number of new staff members. They are highlighted in this issue of Tracks. We are excited to have them join our staff and look forward to their ideas and creativity that will contribute to the success of the museum and its programs. This spring the search for a permanent director will resume and we will be conducting searches for curators in both vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology. As a museum professional, it is encouraging to know that museum curators are ranked within the top five most trusted professions, as was shown in a recent poll in Great Britain. Over many years the Sam Noble Museum has been blessed with some of the finest curators and outstanding scholars in their disciplines anywhere in the world. We hope to continue that history of world-class scholars at a world-class museum.
I look forward to serving as your interim director in 2022. I also hope that you find that the Sam Noble Museum, your state museum of natural history, is a special place and important force in our community that provides a major connection between the university and the people of Oklahoma.
Janet K. Braun, Ph.D.