Terry Brown polishes the chrome-plated "lake" in the Bell Museum's famous Snow Geese diorama.

Receiving the 2020 Ross Merrill Award

Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections

Published12/16/2020 , by Nehwoen Luogon-Bojkov

The Bell Museum is delighted to share that we have been selected by the American Institute for Conservation as the winner of the 2020 Ross Merrill Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections. The Bell Museum is proud of the work done to continue our commitment to our nature dioramas, an important part of Minnesota’s cultural heritage. We appreciate the experts who successfully conducted this move and are honored by the national recognition received. None of this would have been possible without the generous support of the Diorama Legacy Society, whose members made gifts to underwrite the conservation of these centerpieces of the Bell’s collections.

Don Luce holding the Ross Merrill Award in front of the Tundra Swans at the Minnesota River Valley diorama, Bell Museum, St. Paul, MN

Don Luce, Bell Curator of Exhibits, holding the Ross Merrill Award in front of the Tundra Swans at the Minnesota River Valley diorama, Bell Museum, St. Paul, MN

 

The Ross Merrill Award is awarded to institutions that have shown exemplary and sustained commitment to conservation and collections care through interpretation, research, scholarship, education, and/or public outreach. The American Institute for Conservation is the leading association for current and aspiring conservators and allied professionals who preserve cultural heritage. 

The Bell Museum was nominated for rising to the great challenge of moving its entire collection, including ten diorama paintings over 20 feet long by Francis Lee Jaques, to a new building with state of the art environmental controls. Prior to this, a nature diorama conservation project of this complexity and size had never been attempted. The successful completion of the project included a dream team of curators, engineers, architects, conservators and art movers.

 

A photo of the 2020 Ross Merrill award for outstanding commitment to the preservation and care of collections

2020 Ross Merrill award for outstanding commitment to the preservation and care of collections, Bell Museum, St. Paul, MN

 

On July 14, 2018, a new Bell Museum opened to the public to share a near twenty-year effort to build a new facility for its state natural history. The Bell Museum’s decision to move the dioramas to the new Bell Museum and the incredible conservation work secures them for future generations to enjoy.

The documentary below, collaboratively produced by the Bell Museum and Twin Cities PBS (TPT), follows the historic move and restoration of the Bell’s famous dioramas, now expertly preserved for new generations of museum visitors. We are grateful to the Diorama Legacy Society for making this work possible.