One of the absolute best parts of this job is that I am almost always on some kind of treasure hunt, whether I know it or not. Frequently I will be browsing through an object file and will find some random bit of information that is either hilarious or incredibly interesting, or sometimes both. Today has been one of those days. In the process of locating information for a researcher regarding an umiak that used to be in our collection, I came across a funny handwritten note that said, “the oomiak has unquestionably added atmosphere as well as smell to the museum.” It was only after I started researching the umiak that is currently in our collection that I understand why someone may have stated something.
Looking through information from when the umiak came to us (the one in the picture above) it was written that “While in Alaska Mr. Woolworth, forgetful of our purchase, brought back an oomiak on the deck of his yacht as a gift for the Mariners. The boats as already stated, are covered with walrus skins. When the sun shone for days, the greasy fragrance from this particular craft – plus the stench of urine with which Eskimos saturate the hides to tan them – caused mal-de-mere, anything but pleasant for those on board. No doubt it was a never-to-be-forgotten trip. In fact we heard stories about it for several years.”