Fairbanks Museum Exhibit Renovations

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fairbanks museumST. JOHNSBURY- The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, has just received an upgrade at the beginning of January—and is expecting more.


According to the museum’s executive director, Adam Kane, there were four exhibits were swapped out and four new ones were instated to more closely focus on the museum’s focus of natural history.

One of the exhibits being replaced is one containing Civil War memorabilia, including weapons and uniforms. Kane says this exhibit is now on display at the Saint Johnsbury History and Heritage Center.

That particular exhibit was replaced with a new exhibit called “Extinct Vermont”, featuring pictures, specimens, and information about species that have gone extinct in Vermont, as well as driven out, and things that were endangered and able to recover and replenish. Some examples include Passenger Pigeons, Spiny Softshell Turtles, Deer, and Moose. All art featured is created by artist David MacCauley, and taxidermy done by William Belch. The second exhibit replaced was a series of historic pictures and firefighting novelties from Saint Johnsbury, which will also be brought to the History and Heritage Center.

It was replaced by a display of Saint Johnsbury Water Works, an informational series of drawings, also done by David MacCauley, on how water is cleaned and delivered in St. J, and woodworking tools that were used to make St. J’s early pipes.

The second half of the exhibits being removed are a series of dolls called the “White Doll Collection” as well as a case of toys, novelties and dolls from the 1970’s. Removed for the same reason as not being “natural” history focused enough, these were all donated by a local family, who they are working with to have back on display somewhere and not be kept in storage for too long.

These two exhibits are being replaced by two more new “nature” focused displays: One of which being an herbarium of the Native Orchids of Vermont, with the help of Paddie Howe, who collected specimens, and William Belch.

The other display will be dedicated to Snowflake Bentley, a famous figure out of Jericho, Vermont from the mid to late 1800s who set out to prove that all snowflakes are different, and their symmetry. The Fairbanks was able to obtain actual micrographs from that time of snowflakes, with Bentley’s original handwriting and notes on them, which Kane says is something they’re very excited about.

So what comes next for the Fairbanks? Kane says that there is still plenty to be eager about. In April, they are expecting a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian called X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside-out, and in June, a history of the Fairbanks Museum, with chronology, information about the founder, a timeline of the progression, and ultimately the story of the Fairbanks Museum that Kane says not a lot of people may be aware of, and will soon be able to delve into.