Sculptor Matthew Josephs
shows us how science and art go hand in hand at The American Museum of Natural History
- interview by Gustavo Agosto-DaFonseca , age 12.
I must say one of the best places you can visit this summer is The American Museum of Natural History. This year, the museum is celebrating 127 years since it first opened its doors in 1870. Major renovations have been done to the Fossil Halls.
It takes more than anthropologists to put together the ancient skeletons. There are also artists at work at the museum and we met one of them. Sculptor Matthew Josephs took us into the workshop where a team of sculptors work on pieces that help display fossils. He was very nice and allowed me to touch real fossilized bones.
When and why did you become interested in this job?
My mother saw an ad in the newspaper for this job and I went to check it out. This job is an excellent way to use my skills as a sculptor. Metalworking is one of my specialties and the sculptures we work on here are metal.
Did you have to go to a special school?
Well, I have no science background, everything I learned about fossils I have learned during my 5 years working here. I was trained as an artist before.
How long does it take to
assemble one of the models?
It really depends. Some things can be done in one day and others can be longer. For example, the T-Rex took six months with six people working on it.
What is your favorite model?
The one for the Apatosaurus.
Was there ever a major project that you were working on, and as soon as it was
ready, it just fell apart?
Once, we were doing a large model and then all of the pieces fell and broke off into tiny pieces. But we were lucky because there was one person on our project crew that was able to put it back together before anyone else found out.
We learned a lot about sculpture by looking at all Matthew's tools.
So, when you check out the new Fossil Halls, make sure to look at the awesome metal sculptures that bring the fossils alive!
- originally published in the Summer 1995 issue of ZuZu.