University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Mounting the Mounts: A Behind the Scenes of Beneath the Surface


By: Lee Roueche

December 5, 2014

mounts_5Matt Gay, the mount maker here at the museum, allowed a sneak peak of what he has been working on for the upcoming exhibition, Beneath the Surface today.  After months of careful planning, measuring, drafting, and constructing the various mounts for all the objects going on display, he was able to put some elements together for first 3-D visualization of the pièce de résistance of the exhibition, a partial reconstruction of Burial 11.

This new exhibition seeks to re-interpret the famous Sitio Conte expedition by taking visitors literally “beneath the surface” to experience and explore Burial 11, the Coclé people, and the twentieth century excavations.  Hence why some of the pieces look like they are floating. Sorry! No more spoilers here considering there are only two short months left until the exhibition opens on February 7, 2015.

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Matt had to make and paint mounts for all types of objects, including ceramic and bone objects, not just the renowned gold ones found at Sitio Conte in 1940.

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Some of the mounts look like true works of art.  The curve of this mount perfectly and discretely cradles the carafe that will sit in it.

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The placement of each mounted object is specific to the location where it was found in the burial site. All of this information was gleaned from careful examination of the excavation records housed in the Museum Archives.

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After several hours, Matt had all of the mounts secured and was putting objects in place for review by the exhibition staff.

mounts_11Here Matt and Bill Wierzbowski, Keeper of Collections in the American Section, fit the carafe into place. Each mount was made to fit the object in a specific position. Matt was constantly referencing his camera where he recorded how each object fit its mount.


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