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Best options for displaying fossils


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Hi everyone!

 

I'll be moving from a townhouse into a detached house in a few weeks, and now I'm getting really excited because I'll finally have some space to display my fossils - hooray!  So I was hoping that some of you would have some suggestions as to what type of cabinet I should look into acquiring, including what materials it should and shouldn't be made of (I've heard that some woods can damage fossils - is this true?)  I'll likely be setting up the cabinet(s) in the basement, although I may end up displaying some of my favourite fossils in the living room - we'll see...

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

 

Monica

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Definately get a cabinet that you can access through the front. Both of mine open in the back and that configuration tends to be a royal pain in the behind if you need to adjust or move your displays around. Mine are also mostly made of metal and glass, but the floor of the smaller one is painted wood. I put stands and other barriers under each item to get them off the painted surface just in case paint wants to stick to fossil.

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I find that glass cabinets, with at least views from the 2 sides as well as the front, do a good job. If the back is solid, you can mount mirrors on it if you like. It's very important to make sure that the shelves are sturdy enough. Rocks are heavy and your collection can build up some considerable weight over the years. I once had a full scale disaster in one of my cabinets, so I've since replaced all the glass shelves with wooden ones.

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Sagebrush Steve

I have a couple of glass cabinets from IKEA that I use to display my fossils.  With the optional lights the were under $100 each.  Others here have also used them, do a search on IKEA.  (This is an old photo, they have a lot more in them now and I need to buy 2 more!)

Cases.thumb.jpg.d5ddf540bff658b26a2f7a9b4831ac18.jpg

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Nice cabinets, but like I said, mind those glass shelves. The stability of the glass deteriorates over the years.

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2 hours ago, Ludwigia said:

Nice cabinets, but like I said, mind those glass shelves. The stability of the glass deteriorates over the years.

Have similiar cabinets and they are inexpensive and they work.  I have replaced the thin shelves with much thicker tempered ones which were not that costly to purchase from glass store.

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My husband was thinking that those glass-shelved cabinets from Ikea would be ideal to display my fossils, but I, too, was worried about the weight of the rocks being too much for the glass.  But so long as they are made of tempered glass I should be okay, I presume?

 

I was wondering, though - if I do end up going with wooden shelves (which is what my mother-in-law thinks), do I have to be worried about certain woods damaging my fossils?  I've heard that the fumes/vapours given off by some woods might be damaging...

 

Thanks again!

 

Monica

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Pros and Con for each way.  Cannot help you with the vapor issues but here is a tool for calculating weight load on glass.  I believe the Ikea ones are tempered but I'm conservative and added thicker glass.

 

https://www.dullesglassandmirror.com/glass-weight-load-calculator

 

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I have had no issue with wood so far, having displayed my fossils in my cabinet for over 7 years.

 

If customization is an option, you could get a regular book cabinet, fix acrylic doors on the front, and run LED light strips through every level. It works pretty good as a main display area, and the fossils are within easy reach too.

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Tempered glass should work as well, but make sure it's at least 8mm. thick when not more. My broken glass was also tempered, but not thick enough, but even the thicker ones were showing signs of material tiredness, which prompted me to switch to wood.

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Sagebrush Steve
11 hours ago, Monica said:

My husband was thinking that those glass-shelved cabinets from Ikea would be ideal to display my fossils, but I, too, was worried about the weight of the rocks being too much for the glass.  But so long as they are made of tempered glass I should be okay, I presume?

 

I was wondering, though - if I do end up going with wooden shelves (which is what my mother-in-law thinks), do I have to be worried about certain woods damaging my fossils?  I've heard that the fumes/vapours given off by some woods might be damaging...

 

Thanks again!

 

Monica

Here is a link to the IKEA page for the glass cabinet: 

 

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10119206/

 

The shelves are tempered glass glass and the maximum weight per shelf is 8 lbs (3.6 kg).  I would be cautious about replacing the shelves with thicker glass and expecting them to support more weight. The cabinet has been designed as a system, and the metal framework that supports the shelves probably won't support much additional weight.  In fact, if you do put in thicker shelves you should subtract the additional weight of the new glass from the maximum weight per shelf.  If the engineer who designed it knew what he was doing he should have derated the maximum weight spec by at least a factor of two over what the design is capable of supporting but I wouldn't count on it.

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Also keep in mind, if you are going to use wooden shelves, you will want to get additional lighting for those lower ones or your displays will be rather dark since there will be no light penetration beyond the area that has the lights.

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Ludwigia's cautions about glass are well-considered. However, if you remain mindful of the rated load as Sagebrush Steve suggests, no mischief will likely ensue with glass. I have used a rig identical to the Ikea cabinet shown for many years without a problem. However, many of the shelves hold copal wood carvings, which are lightweight. The only heavy piece, a Mioplosus slab, is relegated to the bottom, solid shelf. 

 

I was able to commandeer some additional bonus display space by replacing the coffee table in our great room. There are many display table options, but I went with this one, given its maximum display visibility and generous size (roughly 4 X 2 X 1'). It is intended to be a terrarium. As you can see it is mostly glass with a metal frame (distressed finished). Of course you could paint the frame in any color scheme that existing decor and taste dictate. In the case are Oaxacan carvings, a porcelain bowl recovered from the wreck of the TeK Sing, clay figures my daughter made as a child, and of course, fossils. I like it and so far the snollywife has not objected.

 

DSCN1594acz.thumb.jpg.ba1c4a159e33a067b73bc0b96343ad92.jpg

 

DSCN1595acz.thumb.jpg.9b0672622205a1b445a975d15861f330.jpg

 

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Hi snoolly 

great display with the caved rabbit  and the wooden animal . Did you make them? I love the blue zebra. 

 

Cheers Bobby

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Yes, some woods, such as oak, give off acidic vapors over time. Museums were seeing damage to artifacts and to some extent mineral and biological specimens after many years stored in such cases or cabinets.  So glass and metal are great alternatives.  And not all wood or wood products are a problem.

 

Lots of great advice so far. The Ikea units are pretty nice and in most cases the shelves are small enough it would be hard to fit something so heavy they might snap. Just be extra careful as you place the specimens.  Another issue is heat. Depending on what kind of lamps you use there can be a great deal of heat build up. 

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32 minutes ago, Bobby Rico said:

Hi snoolly 

great display with the caved rabbit  and the wooden animal . Did you make them? I love the blue zebra. 

 

Cheers Bobby

Thank you, the rabbit figures and bull at the left are clay. They were made by my daughter, while in grammar school (Caution: bragging ensues). She was recognized as academically "gifted" at an early age and a little latter was deemed artistically "gifted." This opened doors for her participation in some wonderful programs. Three years out of grad school, she is a "Senior Designer" for a firm in NYC. 

 

The carved animals are examples of art from Oaxaca, Mexico; which I collect. I love the colors and patterns of the carvings. Here is a link to an article about them.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alebrije

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Uncle Siphuncle

Another bit of advice.  On each shelf, if possible, skew the heavier specimens outboard toward shelf supports, leaving space in the center and front for lighter weight specimens.  

 

For the record, some of the shelves of my 13 IKEA cabinets have been loaded above 8 lbs for 10+ years, but so far none have come down like the Twin Towers.

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On 23/10/2017 at 3:59 PM, snolly50 said:

Thank you, the rabbit figures and bull at the left are clay. They were made by my daughter, while in grammar school (Caution: bragging ensues). She was recognized as academically "gifted" at an early age and a little latter was deemed artistically "gifted." This opened doors for her participation in some wonderful programs. Three years out of grad school, she is a "Senior Designer" for a firm in NYC. 

 

The carved animals are examples of art from Oaxaca, Mexico; which I collect. I love the colors and patterns of the carvings. Here is a link to an article about them.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alebrije

Thanks @snolly50. The rabbits are very nice indeed and I love the carved zebra. I also really like too display my fossil a long side animal figures. It gives the fossils life I think. Thanks for the link .

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Hi Monica!

Well, I have a pretty vast collection already, and displaying everything is simply impossible. Plus most of my fossils don't look amazing (they do all tell awesome stories), so displaying them all is pretty pointless. I just selected a few of my best-looking pieces and displayed those on a wooden shelf on my desk; I keep the rest in my cupboard ordered in small boxes.

Just my way of doing it.

 

 

By the way, @-Andy-, I would love to see a better picture of those two jaws here! :) Could you please post a picture (with some info) here? Thanks

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10 hours ago, Max-fossils said:

 

By the way, @-Andy-, I would love to see a better picture of those two jaws here! :) Could you please post a picture (with some info) here? Thanks

 

 

Here you go! Take note this is a composite. The jaws match nicely, but were collected from different areas (though most likely the same formation and county), and the teeth are composited in too.

 

post-4888-0-17414600-1407766615.jpg
 

Crocodile jaw (composite)
Borealosuchus sternbergii
68 - 66 mya
Hell Creek Formation
USA

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11 hours ago, -Andy- said:

 

Here you go! Take note this is a composite. The jaws match nicely, but were collected from different areas (though most likely the same formation and county), and the teeth are composited in too.

 

 

Crocodile jaw (composite)
Borealosuchus sternbergii
68 - 66 mya
Hell Creek Formation
USA

Still really cool fossils! Thanks for showing it to me :)

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