Ivy Lenane-Jewell, Undergraduate student, Ceramics
Prepares museum specimens
“Ivy is a non-traditional student who has found a way to bridge her passions for art and for the natural world into a potential career, reviving traditional methods and taking them into new directions. As a taxidermist in a museum setting, Ivy hopes to honor and replicate the natural world to encourage a love for it in others.” – Liz Crooks, Director, Pentacrest Museums
• Hometown: North Liberty, Iowa
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Cindy Opitz, Director of Research Collections, University of Iowa Museum of Natural History
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Ceramics BFA with a certificate in Museum Studies, 2023
• Please describe your research: My research is on ethical, sustainable, and safe taxidermy practices in museum settings. My mounts are specifically made to be used in educational programs, where they can be touched and viewed up-close.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? These mounts create an environment where individuals are encouraged to feel, explore, and admire animals in a way they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. They can be used as a vehicle for connection between animals and people. This connection can act as a catalyst for conversations about conservation.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I took time off of undergrad to pursue a glassblowing teaching position at Western Washington University. I decided to finish my degree at the University of Iowa when the pandemic hit. In my first semester back, I started volunteering at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History with Cindy preparing bird and mammal specimens as study skins for the research collection. I began my research project a few months after.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research at the University of Iowa has allowed me to translate my artistic skills into the field of science. This research has inspired me to pursue alternative career options as an artist. It’s given me opportunities to learn new skills that I can transfer between my museum studies courses and my art and art history courses.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I’d like to work in museums creating similar work to this research project. I hope to design exhibits and create educational mounts that are accessible to schools and community members. My aim is to create works of art that allow people to interact with these animals in a way that isn’t always possible. I hope that being able to touch the mounts will help bridge the disconnect happening between people and nature, and inspire viewers to pursue conservation efforts.
• Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain. Our museum has had limited hours due to COVID-19. My mounts are made to be touched and touching in a time of a pandemic is not advised. So my research is not currently available due to safety. However, the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History has a digital library of our collections that are available to all.
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