How do you move a totem pole? Very carefully.

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It is not every day that the Denver Museum of Nature & Science receives a totem pole and housepost to add to its collection. Many people wonder just how we are able to transport and care for items of this size; the pictures in the slideshow above will provide an idea of some of the work we do behind the scenes here.

On June 13, 2011, Isabel Tovar, Collections Manager for the Department of Anthropology worked with a team of people to bring in two poles as part of a donation of eighteen carvings. These carvings were created by Chief Lelooska, a well-known artist in the Northwest Coast carving tradition. For more information on Lelooska, please visit the Lelooska Foundation.

The largest carving is a totem pole measuring 24 feet tall and weighing in at 1,282 lbs. in its crate. The other pole is a housepost measuring 8.5 feet tall and weighing in at 475 lbs. in its crate.

Because of the size and weight of both these items, special handling and transport was necessary. Josh Van Wie and other art handlers from Terry Dowd, Inc. were contracted to bring the two items safely in to DMNS. Jim Anderson of Silverthorne, Colorado also provided assistance during the moves for all the Lelooska material. DMNS Registrar Heather Thorwald and Exhibits Department representative Victor Muñoz worked late in the day with us to get the items in the building before the rain started. The Department of Anthropology is very grateful to everyone for their help.

The remaining sixteen Lelooska carvings which were part of the donation are currently undergoing our accessioning process and will be available for future research and exhibits.

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