Fun with Arsenic

Okay, so let’s get to the main reason for starting this blog today. Allow me to fill you in. A few weeks ago, we learned that arsenic was commonly used as a preservation agent in taxidermy from the 18th century until recent times. Naturally, this concerned us because we have a fine collection of stuffed birds so we ordered a test kit.

This afternoon, I found a smart little package on my desk. The arsenic test kit arrived! Such an exciting event just begged to be documented.

The kit looked like a high school chemistry experiment in a box (where are my safety goggles?) with four bottles of arsenic powder stuff, a reaction jar, a needle and some test strips. I plucked out a couple loose feathers from the bird’s leg and put them in the glass jar with some water and the powders. Then slid a test strip under the lid and waited. It was like waiting for a pregnancy test.  Was it or wasn’t it full of arsenic?

Thirty minutes elapsed and the strip turned dark brown. The colors on the test strip bottle indicate that the stuffed bird is indeed full of arsenic. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to safely dispose of the test liquid and what to do with our bird. For now, they both sit on my desk waiting for a decision.

First Post

Welcome to the Raupp Museum’s very first blog post.  The museum showcases the social history of Buffalo Grove. So much goes on behind the scenes that visitors never get to see or hear about. We hope this blog will shed some light on what we do and we are excited to share it with you. We will do our best to keep you up-to-date on the research we are conducting, show you interesting objects in the collection, and give you sneak peeks at upcoming exhibits.

Feel free to check us out on the Buffalo Grove Park District website or follow us on our Facebook page.

Obligatory disclaimer: the views in the Raupp Museum blog are mine and do not necessarily represent those of the Buffalo Grove Park District. My employer is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness or suitability of the blog’s content and is not be liable for errors, loss, damage or injury sustained arising from its display or use.

Basically, the blog should be considered “as is” and for entertainment purposes only.