(Pictures taken in RISD’s Nature Lab)
Here’s a riddle for you: where can you find a dragon, a preserved dog fetus, and a whale vertebra, all in one place? The answer is 13 Waterman St, a spot that is incredibly close to Brown’s campus and is home to RISD’s Nature Lab. Having heard of it last summer, I made the not-so-long trek over to the building last Thursday, unsure of what to expect; would I find one small room with a couple of fish tanks?
This was most certainly NOT the case.
Walking into the main room of the Nature Lab can be overwhelming. Not because it is disorganized or crowded, but because there is so much to explore. Cabinets and drawers line the walls, filled with specimens of all kinds, from butterflies to minerals. There are all types of plants, and multiple tanks and cages, homes to turtles and other living animals. Larger preserved animals occupy space outside the cabinets: you might notice a bear, a deer, or the puffer fish hanging from the ceiling.
What’s really cool is that you can take out, handle, and study most of these specimens. Basically, you feel like a kid in a candy shop and keep asking, “What’s that? And that??!” At least that’s what I did, to some extraordinarily helpful Nature Lab staff, including Lab Coordinator Betsy Ruppa, who answered many of my questions about what the different specimens were.
Ruppa said the facility ends up functioning as a library. Students often use the Nature Lab as a resource for various projects and are even allowed to check out many of the objects. Entire classes, many from RISD but also other schools, will come in to use the space. The lab additionally helps students out in a myriad of ways beyond providing them with draw-able subjects. Students of everything from apparel to architecture come in to investigate the forms, shapes and textures of natural objects. Ruppa explained that students use the lab to study “anything that relates to nature and how nature solves its problems of design.” For example, she explained that an architecture student might want to examine the structure of a bird’s nest. Clothing designers might need inspiration for prints. The way bones connect can give insight into how hinges work; the way certain insects’ wings unfurl and then return to their resting position mirrors the way the top to a convertible opens and closes.
Don’t you love the first week of school? You get to be excited about classes and yet have no work for them because maybe you’re just ~shopping~. While I know the whole not-knowing-your-schedule thing can stress people out, I personally love shopping, be it for classes, groceries, or on Etsy.
But sadly, all good things come to an end. You better know what you’re taking because fee-free registration, and shopping period, officially ends at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Also coming to an end: the lax attitude about work that one enjoys in the first few, hectic weeks of school. There will, sadly, be no excuse for not having bought the books. Sections will be starting… Assignments might even be coming up. So are you guys going to the library tonight? (I haven’t been yet…)
What are some buildings you’ve never set foot in at Brown? For some, it might be the Annmary Brown Memorial – that tomb-like, windowless building near Keeney and Health Services, a subject of much Brown folklore and ghost stories. Blog spent an afternoon in the famed memorial, and lived to tell the tale.
The Annmary Brown Memorial, located at 21 Brown Street, was built in 1907 by General Rush Christopher Hawkins as a memorial to his wife. During the Civil War, General Hawkins (1831 – 1920) served as Colonel of the “Hawkins Zouaves,” the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry, and was named Brigadier General in 1865. Hawkins was a well-known book collector, fascinated by early print editions, and a collector of early modern representational paintings.
Annmary Brown (1837 – 1903) was the daughter of Nicholas Brown III and granddaughter of Nicholas Brown II, for whom the university was named after. Brown and Hawkins married in 1860. Annmary was close with her sister, Carrie Brown Bajnotti, who is memorialized by the Carrie Tower on the Quiet Green. After her premature death from pneumonia in 1903, Hawkins decided to build a public memorial in her memory, to house belongings from their life together, Annmary Brown’s letters, as well as his Civil War memorabilia and art and book collections. Hawkins donated the memorial and the collection to the City of Providence in 1907. Brown was buried in the crypt in the rear of the building, and was joined by Hawkins, who died at the age of 89. The university acquired the memorial in 1948, which now houses the programs in Medieval Studies and in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.
Guys! The Rock is going to be open 24 hours now! Morning Mail says so! I’m not sure how to process this information aside from my feeling that this will in some sense have a revolutionary impact on how I construct my late-night schedule. Is the Rock not the library you work at when you want to self-impose a 2 a.m. deadline anymore? Should I measure out the length of time it takes to get from the Rock to Jo’s exactly, so that I can arrive at the latter at exactly 1:57 a.m. and back at the former soon after? What does dawn look like through the AQR windows that look out on Providence?!?!!?
Oh man. This is nuts. The exact details, by the by, are that the Rock will now be open 24 hours Sunday through Friday–as the Sciences Library already is–with the circulation desk still closing at 2 a.m. every day. Plus, even crazier, the Rock will not close at all between the start of Reading Period (which for some reason they say begins Sunday, April 19th) until the end of Finals. For more info, see today’s Morning Mail or peep this link.
Fans of Shakespeare on the Green, rejoice! According to the Washington Post, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s copy of the First Folio will be staying at Brown at some point next year. Its visit to Brown is part of a national tour meant to coincide with with the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, and yes, it already has a hashtag: #SHX400. It’s sure to be included in the nerdiest tweets ever known to the Internet.
The First Folio, “one of the most valuable printed books in the world,” will spend time in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C, and includes classic plays like Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. 36 of The Bard’s plays are in its pages.
There’s no word yet on where exactly the First Folio will be housed during its time at Brown or when exactly in 2016 it will be on College Hill. A big display case in the middle of Faunce would be a great sell for prospective students, though its age makes the Hay seem like a logical fit. Besides, I could totally see Shakespeare being a Beyoncé fan.