Microscopy lab lets scientists examine tiny historical objects
Museum's microscopy lab lets scientists examine the tiniest of historical objects
Even the tiniest, oldest secrets of the West have fewer places to hide now that the Museum of Western Colorado has a microscopy lab of its own.
The Dujay Microscopy Lab in the basement of the Museum of the West, 462 Ute Ave., is now home to several microscopes donated by Rick Dujay, who heads up the Colorado Mesa University half of the Western Investigations Team as director of the CMU Center for Electron Microscopy. The Dujay Microscopy Lab also has equipment that allows for students, scholars and investigators to study images from the CMU lab’s digital microscope, the first installed at a university in the United States.
Dujay and David Bailey, the curator of history at the museum, used electron microscopy to shed light on Western mysteries first to corroborate Alferd Packer’s version of the events that left him alive and his gold-seeking mining party dead and butchered near Lake City, resulting in Packer being dubbed the “Colorado Cannibal.”
The Western Investigations Team and the Dujay lab has the Museum at the West stretching the limits of what museums do, Peter Booth, the new executive director of the Museum of Western Colorado, said in opening the lab. Several CMU students and staff attended the opening.
Participants in the team can go into the field and “get in touch with our heritage and bring it back to us” for study and display, Booth said.
Among the microscopes that will be used at the museum lab is metallurgical microscope, which can be used for historical and paleontological research, making it possible to examine microfossils, Dujay said.
Dujay inherited the microscopes from a mentor, Donald Nash at Colorado State University, and is passing them along for continued use, Dujay said.
Her involvement with the Western Investigations Team led her to look at post-graduate work in criminology, said Hillary Wolff, a CMU senior majoring in biology. She’s getting interested in using microscopy and other tools to track down tiny clues to mysteries.
“I’ve just been having so much fun,” Wolff said.