Museum Musings

January 2015 Volunteer of the Month

We are pleased to honor Shirley and Stan Thomas as our January Volunteer of the Month.

Shirley and Stan have been married for 57 years and have volunteered together at Fernbank Museum since 2008. They enjoy their time at Fernbank because it gives them a chance to meet and talk with visitors from all over the world. Jan VOTM

Before coming to Fernbank they volunteered for the National Park Service, where they served as educational guides on train rides from Atlanta to New Orleans, and as trauma support in the North Fulton Hospital. In their spare time, they enjoy playing Bridge, watching football and being active in their church.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Fernbank Museum. You can also call us at 404.929.6360 or e-mail

From all of us in the Member and Volunteer office, Happy New Year!

—Kate Naylor. Member and Volunteer Services Coordinator

Written by Fernbank Museum at 15:45

Holiday Traditions: Snow Jam

In conjunction with the holiday-inspired exhibition Winter Wonderland, we asked staff to share some of their traditions so that we can share them with you.

Chris -Bean -blog -photo

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
One of my most cherished holiday memories is a tradition that only lasted a few years – making paper snowflakes with my younger brothers. You know, when you fold a circle of paper into a pie-sized wedge, make a few strategic cuts and voila, a beautiful and unique snowflake is created!

As the older sister, I was the “go-to” babysitter, which was a job I actually enjoyed because I adored my little brothers and it was fun to think of things to do with them. Each December, my parents went off to a holiday party and one year, we took the opportunity to cover the window panes with snowflakes. My parents were surprised and delighted by our project, and so it became an annual tradition for the next few years. Our snowflakes weren’t fancy but each was unique, just like a real snowflake.

Soon, I moved on to college and their interests turned elsewhere and sadly, our annual “snowfall” ended. Perhaps when we all gather together this year at our childhood home, we’ll paper the windows for old-times’ sake!

Need ideas or inspiration to let it snow? Click here.

—Christine Bean, Vice President of Education

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:53

Holiday Traditions: A Big Apple Christmas

In conjunction with the holiday-inspired exhibition Winter Wonderland, we asked staff to share some of their traditions so that we can share them with you.

Unwrapping New Traditions
Brittany -holiday -blog -photoFor the past four years my husband and I have started a tradition of spending the four days leading up to Christmas with his sister and her family in New York. It has definitely been a fun tradition to adopt, and it’s certainly something we look forward to every year. We come back late on Christmas Eve, so we typically take time to open gifts and do a big Christmas dinner on the 23rd.

I’m glad that I get to be there when my sister and brother-in law, and niece and nephew open their gifts. It’s been almost like adopting a whole new holiday and it’s proven to be a really special time.

—Brittany Loggins, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator

Written by Fernbank Museum at 13:38

Holiday Traditions: Taking Turns

In conjunction with the holiday-inspired exhibition Winter Wonderland, we asked staff to share some of their traditions so that we can share them with you.

“The Mouse is Mine!”
Sara -b -blog -imageAs in most households my parents have an advent calendar. It has a tiny mouse that you move along to show the date. We have had this thing since I can remember. As my brother and I got older we had to take turns “moving the mouse.” I quickly realized that by letting him go first I would always get to land on Christmas Eve. It took a while but he eventually figured out my evil scheme. After that we had to trade off even and odd years.

Fast forward to us moving out of the house. We still would race to our parents to see who would move the mouse first. We of course, in the spirit of Christmas, would rub it in the other ones face.

Present day I am almost 30 and my brother 26. We both still rush to our parents only now we to wait, and let my daughter move the mouse. I am not going to lie it is hard for us both to sit back and pass the torch to the next generation.

However, she is my daughter so in the end the point still goes to me!

—Sara Brumfield, Event and Beverage Manager

Written by Fernbank Museum at 14:08

Holiday Traditions: Staff Edition

In conjunction with the holiday-inspired exhibition Winter Wonderland, we asked staff to share some of their traditions so that we can share them with you. Up first, a familiar face to regular guests to Fernbank NatureQuest.

The Flames of Christmas Day
Sean -and -GranddaddyWhen Granddaddy built his house after coming home from The War, he put a big cabinet into the wall beside the fireplace. This cabinet was filled with all manner of mysterious, mystical fire accessories, everything from spare brooms and pokers to popcorn poppers to matches of whatever length you might want. The most remarkable thing though, the thing that'd catch the sparkle of the old man's eye and set this young boy's imagination ablaze, was the color powder. The powder was a nondescript gray in a ratty cardboard tube, the markings of which had long worn off. Looking for the powder, I'd root through the cabinet when no one else was around, finding plenty of empty match boxes, discarded newspaper, and similar refuse stored in precarious proximity to the hearth, but I never could find that powder. Granddaddy, of course, always found it straight away, leading me to suspect some hidden compartment. Looking back now, he more likely sneaked the color powder up from his workshop downstairs on the only time of the year we used the fireplace: Christmas Day.

Christmas when I was a boy was something of a Rockwellian affair with the whole family in the living room gathered around the outskirts of a sea of colorfully wrapped and ribboned presents seeping from underneath a big tree decked out in lights, beads, and ornaments older than my parents. On the other side of the room sat the fireplace, hand-decorated stockings nailed to the wood paneled wall above. Once or twice each year, when everybody was together in the room, Granddaddy would toss a handful of the powder in the fire, and everyone would gasp and cheer. Honestly, I couldn't say much about everyone else's reaction because my attention was rapt upon the flames. First, the orange flames turned to gold, then a deep dandelion yellow. Next, they shifted to green, an azure glow that soon became the dark blue of ocean depths before fading to the hues of a clear noon sky and back to orange.

The big flashy demonstration, everyone gaping and awing, wasn't my favorite tradition of the holiday though. Every year after the rest of the family had gone home or to visit neighbors and the quiet of night had fallen, Granddaddy and I would pull up an old rocking chair and sit alone in the living room lit only by twinkle of the tree lights to watch the fire die. These where the times he'd let me throw the powder in myself, spectacular bursts of colored flame erupting far from the prudent eyes of mothers and wives. Before long the flicker of flames would fade and the logs would turn to ash, which marked a fine time to darken the tree and settle into our beds as the silence of a sated Christmas night settled onto the house.

—Sean D'aigle, Exhibition Facilitator

Written by Fernbank Museum at 15:44
Welcome to the official blog of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!