Oversized 'Pottery Detectives' on display for investigation


TUCSON, Ariz. - Walk into and around an 8-foot tall/10-foot wide ceramic vessel as part of a new exhibition at the Arizona State Museum. "The Pottery Detectives" features the over-life-sized pot replica as an interactive educational tool.

The pot's shape, design, decoration, food residues, clay, and evidence of manufacture will be visible in large scale. Each of these clues will be discussed in detail and visitors will learn how archaeologists "read" those clues to piece together information about the past. Perhaps most importantly, the exhibit will answer the questions of how and why archaeologists examine the past and why this is important today.

Fabricated by Tucson-based company, CemRock Landscapes and Naturalistic Environments, the Big Pot took shape at their south-side facility over the past two months - from miniature foam sculpture to rebar skeleton to a shower of fiberglass coating to final paint and decoration - the process is truly a remarkable one.

CemRock has created interactive environments for museums, zoos and aquaria all over the country since 1978 (in addition to golf course, commercial, and residential landscape environments).

"The educational value of our exhibit environments is limitless. We understand the message that educational institutions such as museums and zoos want to communicate - stimulation, interaction, preservation, and education," says Dave Taplin, CemRock's VP for marketing.

"We came to CemRock with our idea for an oversized pot because we knew of their reputation," says ASM exhibit curator Russell Varineau, "Their attention to detail and interest in museum-quality educational projects is very impressive. People are so much more engaged, and learn so much more, when they can actually interact with an exhibit rather than just look at it." In addition to the Big Pot, the exhibit will feature an assortment of vessels from a variety of SW cultures, a replica of a Kalinga (a pottery-making culture from the Philippines) hut and hearth, video presentations and live demonstrations by potters.

A series of educational activities, family programs and lectures are planned for the duration of the 18-month exhibit. For more information, call (520) 621-6302 or visit www.statemuseum.arizona.edu. Arizona State Museum is located on the UA campus, just east of the Main Gate at Park Avenue and University Boulevard in Tucson. The exhibit runs through Sept. 30, 2004.