From Nicolette Meister, curator of collections at the Logan Museum.
Welcome to the first Museum Monday of the academic year. Each week, the Terrarium will feature interesting collections, activities, or exhibits at the Logan or Wright Museum. Today, we’re focusing on ancient art: specifically, a 35,000-year-old set of beads made from mammoth ivory. Last week, Visiting Assistant Professor Caitlin Bass and her Art History 120 class (Art, History, and Culture to 1300) took a close look at these beads as part of their survey of Paleolithic art in the Logan Museum's collection.
The beads, mounted as if strung on a necklace, were found in 1910-11 in the Abri Blanchard cave in southern France. They were made by people of the Aurignacian culture, one of the earliest recognizable groups of fully modern humans in Europe. Logan Museum researchers and other archaeologists once believed these beads constituted some of the earliest art objects ever produced. Older beads have since been found, but the Abri Blanchard necklace still is one of the most significant pieces of Paleolithic art in any museum.
The Logan Museum has loaned the necklace to the Field Museum for its Mammoth and Mastodons exhibit, which has been traveling across the U.S. The necklace is back in Beloit during a break in its touring schedule, but not for long. In two weeks it goes back into its crate and rejoins the exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science; from there it travels to Denver and then San Diego before returning to Beloit next year.