BVU Grad at Center of Tusk Restoration
Nathan Arndt, the assistant director and chief curator at the Rod Library, helped write a grant to fund restoration on a large mastodon tusk. Funds for the project came from the The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust.
Nathan Arndt ’07 is at the center of a popular exhibit that opened this spring at the Rod Library, part of the University of Northern Iowa Museum.
“The reaction has been huge,” says Arndt, who majored in history at BVU.
The reaction matches the item at the center of the exhibit, a mastodon tusk that measures just shy of 12 feet and is believed to be around 125,000 years old. Arndt, the museum’s assistant director and chief curator, helped write a grant to fund restoration work on the tusk. The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the very entity that in recent years gave more than $174,000 to purchase five pieces of laboratory instrumentation equipment for the BVU School of Science, donated more than $300,000 to fund the effort Arndt helped head.
“In the end the tusk was stabilized, and we’ve done a professional exhibit that will help sustain it into the foreseeable future.”
“The Carver Charitable Trust organization loved the idea because we weren’t just going to work to restore the tusk, we were going to include students in the process,” Arndt says. “There was a key educational component.”
Museum staff partnered with chemists, anthropologists, history professors and students in using scientific methods and technology to remove nine layers from the surface of the tusk, which was found in a gravel pit at Hampton in 1933. The tusk, which has been part of the museum’s collection since the 1930s, sat unattended in a building for years and sustained some water damage.
“In the end the tusk was stabilized, and we’ve done a professional exhibit that will help sustain it into the foreseeable future,” says Arndt.