The Week We Washed our Mastodon

Like your children, your pets or your living room rug, our mastodon needs a good cleaning now and then. He got his bath last Tuesday morning as part of the RMSC September Close from Monday, Sept. 21 to Saturday, Sept. 26. During these six days, we focused on the deep cleaning, exhibit repair and improvements that we’re not able to work on when open to the public.
Of course we encourage you to come see everything for yourself, but let us fill you in on what’s been happening behind the scenes.

To begin, we scrubbed from the ground up – from the floor beneath your feet to cloth sails above your head in our café.

closed week floor cleaning
And left not a stone – nor Native American basket – unturned. Though it might not be the first thing you think of when you think about the Rochester Museum & Science Center, we’ve got one of the most comprehensive Seneca Haudenosaunee collections in the world and the displays in our Native Peoples of the Americas and At the Western Door exhibits need to be dusted and vaccumed.

closed week haudenosaunee cases
We also broke out the paint to freshen up our walls. A new coat of white brightened the bathrooms and some small touch-ups enhanced our rock wall and Expedition Earth photo murals. Here, our exhibit designer Lois Shaffer works on the finer details.

closed week lois min copy
When it came to our mastodons, we had to bring out the lift to reach the lifelike model and his skeletal neighbor with a vacuum and feather duster. This may have been the highlight of our week – both for the fun of seeing our Collections staff trying to clean our giant friends and for the response we got from the Rochester community.

closed week mastodon

For some, the idea of cleaning the mastodon stirred the imagination. We received mastodon-cleaning recommendations such as trying a Wayne’s World haircutting-vacuum contraption or going with a simple “rinse-n-vac with some lovely leave-in conditioner.” For others, our mastodon brought back memories. “Years ago, my now 27-year-old grandson, spent hours just standing on the platform, looking at [the mastodon], when we visited the RMSC many times,” one woman reminisced on our Facebook page.

Now that we’re back on our normal schedule of hours, we hope that you’ll come pay us a visit. Eight vacuums, countless gallons of paint and one week later, our museum and planetarium are fresh, clean and ready for you to make new memories with us.