During a Spring 2022 semester-long [Un]Class, Art and Biology students collaborated to uncover the mysteries hidden for decades in some of the University of Akron’s closets and cabinets. Students used their detective skills to comb through the biology archives to prepare a collection of taxidermied birds that were donated to UA by the Rhodes family in the early 1900s. Throughout this process students had the opportunity to learn from leading experts regarding the historical significance of biological collections, proper preservation protocols, digitizing and archival practices, and the urgency of science education and communication for a public audience. Students in the Emerging Technologies minor at the Myers School of Art then created detailed three dimensional scans of each animal allowing them to be permanently preserved and shared with a wider community through AR enabled 360° viewing in a browser.
Our wish is to bring the university’s original and forgotten “Museum of Zoology” to a new audience and to inspire future generations. This project and exhibition have been a collaboration between The University of Akron’s Department of Biology, The UA Field Station, Lebron James Family Foundation School of Education, Cummings Center’s Institute for Human Science and Culture, Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, and the Akron Summit County Public Library. It was partially funded by an innovation grant of the Buchtel College of Arts and Science (Dean McKinney).