Share this project


Share this project

Billions of years of life, science and history in the palm of your hand!  Curated, handcrafted, and artfully arranged for display and wonder!
Billions of years of life, science and history in the palm of your hand! Curated, handcrafted, and artfully arranged for display and wonder!
Created by
5,030 backers pledged $1,226,811 to help bring this project to life.

Mini Museum #1, A Short Trip to the Other Side of the World, Production Begins, Curse of Mummy Wrap, The Mystery of Gratitude

Posted by Hans Fex (Creator)

Hello, everyone!

It's been awhile since the last update. Thank you for your patience! I have been very busy working on the production run!

At this time, we are still on schedule. I am also pleased to report that all acrylic mini museums have been assembled and we have started the final polishing.

This is a long update and there are a few surprises -- like pictures of me without a beard! I won't address all of the questions in this update, but please know that details are coming.

Mini Museum #1

Let me begin by sharing a wonderful picture:

Yes, this is the actual mini museum #1.

Each and every acrylic mini museum receives a label like this one.  The numbers note the position in the batch.  Small, Medium, and Large mini museums all have different batch sizes, but since we built the Large mini museums first, this really is the #1 of #1's.

After the label is affixed, a special glue is applied to all of the specimen locations. The glue is applied with a brush and roughly conforms to the size and shape of each specimen. Below I am applying the glue:

Note: When the second layer of acrylic is applied, the "frosted" surface will become clear.  The outside will also be buffed.

After the glue is applied, one begins the process of carefully placing each and every specimen.

Once the specimens are placed, additional adjustments are made to ensure that each and every specimen is in the best possible position before the glue cures.

So this is how one builds a single mini museum. But how does one build many?

I'll come back to that in a moment, but first I need to take a little trip...

A Short Trip to the Other Side of the World

As I mentioned in update #17, I made the decision to work with a partner I have used in the past to help with the production run.  After meeting in their Virginia office, which happens to be right around the corner from my house, we decided the best location for this work would be in Dongguan, China.  So, not long after I sent update #19, I packed all of the specimens and left for China.

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Just pack up and go! But really, one does not simply send delicate and rare specimens through the post.

Packing for the trip involved the complete rebuilding of stock carry-on luggage.  I spent several days building out the cases, and the placement of each specimen was carefully recorded and labeled.  Below is a picture of one case fully loaded.  Each container is customized to fit the need of the specimens within.

We weren't entirely certain what would happen when we showed up at the airport with some of the rarest bits of the universe and human history, but aside from some raised eyebrows in the security area it was really straightforward. Just a few long flights, and we were in Hong Kong ready to cross into China.

After nearly a month in China, I have many pictures and stories. I will share those at a later date, but I want to say that it has been an incredibly enriching experience.  Even if it is wet at times!

Production Begins

Production facilities in China are often quite small, sometimes just 1000 square feet or even smaller. More often than not they are highly specialized operations. Many are family owned.

Over the last few weeks, I've spent each day on the production line working hand in hand with the team. Here I am placing the tricky Apollo 11 specimen:

Not only am I placing specimens, but I am adjusting the positions on each and every mini museum that is produced.

In the picture above, I am working on a set of Large mini museums.  In the picture below, I am adjusting a run of Medium mini museums.

This phase of the project has been immensely satisfying in a way that one can only describe as peaceful. I am so grateful to all of you and to everyone who has worked to make this possible.

Curse of Mummy Wrap

With the initial assembly complete, I'd like to take a moment share details about one of the most difficult specimens I had to prepare... Ancient Egyptian Mummy Wrap.

Mummy wrap is embedded with a substance called bitumen. You will be able to read about bitumen in the companion guide, but it is basically a tar-like substance. After thousands of years, it becomes hard, making extraction of the linen very difficult.  Then, once one has the linen, it is unbelievably fragile. Even a slight shift in the air can tear it apart.

Below is a macro image of the linen.  This gorgeous bit of weave held together for about 30 seconds before it fell apart:

Though I have to say it is quite moving to watch the fibers sort of dissolve into dust, it is also absolutely terrifying.  However, after some experimentation, I devised a method of preparation that took advantage of the bitumen present in the wrap and resulted in one of the most beautiful specimens I've produced.

To begin, after separating large pieces of linen, they were soaked in laboratory grade acetone:

This process is repeated several times, resulting in the pieces you see below:

The process was very time intensive, taking several days from beginning to end. Thankfully, the weather was great because most of the work had to happen outside.

After soaking and drying, the linen fragments are not nearly as fragile, but they can still fall apart. So, I applied resin to each piece with a small brush.  Below is a picture of a large piece of linen after several coats of resin. 

Once cured, the linen is ready to cut. The image below shows specimens prepped for transport.

The Mystery of Gratitude

If you looked closely at the production pictures, you may have noticed the Mystery Specimen has morphed into "Gratitude". You may also have noticed that Dracula Soil has changed shape. I am saving the answer to these mysteries for another update - along with my beard - but I am going to reveal one mystery now... the identity of the friends who are taking all these crazy pictures of me!

When I look back over the past year, I am amazed at the the number of friends who helped make the mini museum project possible. You know helpers Andrea and Stephanie (for whose kind care I am incredibly grateful), but there are many others.

We will have a team photo soon, but I want to single out two tireless supporters: Willie Vadnais and Jamie Grove. Quite frankly, without their love, encouragement, and hard work, I'm not sure there is a mini museum project at all.

The picture above was taken outside Dulles Airport (from the left: Willie, Jamie, and some guy who looks like me). China lay ahead along with the next phase of the project.  I think we look pretty happy, though I have to say we were all dead tired. 

These two men have provided immeasurable support both professional and personal. They have been partners in every sense of the word. They are also among my dearest friends.  Thank you both so very, very much.

Oh, before I go...

There will be no science update this time around.  As you can see, all of my efforts have been focused on producing the very best mini museums for all of you.  Speaking of which, I'd like to share one last picture:

The image above is an early, end-to-end test prior to the start of production. I wanted you all to see just how clear and beautiful the final product will be.  I am so happy with the result.  We are one step closer!

Ok, now it's back to work!

- Hans

Kang Long, richard plumb, and 113 more people like this update.


Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. Missing avatar

      Tina Brandt on

      PLEASE. PLEASE. I would happily pay for a bound copy of all of your amazing updates from start to finish. The time and attention that you have given to every detail of this project has been a wonder to behold. Thank you for your incredible dedication to something that will live on for generations of wonder and excitement :)

    2. Joey Newton on

      I'm good at this game. Looking forward to having a bit of your beard in resin!

    3. Todd Weimer on

      Thanks Felix, so exciting to share in this journey with you and really looking forward to getting my mini-museum :)

    4. Michael on

      So excited! Great update. :)

    5. Ben "w_lf" Reichstein on

      It looks amazing! I cannot wait to hold it in my hands :)

    6. Missing avatar

      Cos_ on

      Ooooohhhhhh. Yeah!

    7. Stéphanie Colle on

      Thank you Hans for another spectacular and fascinating update. As some have commented before, the journey alone makes backing this project worth every penny.

    8. Missing avatar

      Andreas Sachse on

      Fantastic update, Hans. You are pure awesomeness!!

    9. Zoe Martin

      This would have to be the best, most informative Kickstarter project I have backed. Cannot wait until I can hold a mini museum in my hands and show all my friends and family.
      Hans if/when you make another Kickstarter project I'll be backing even if it's just for the informative updates haha

    10. dajebriza

      So glad I backed. The journey alone has been worth the price of admission. The fact that i get one of these spectacular and unique museums at the end is just pure icing on the cake! Thanks, Hans!

    11. WhyIsThisOpen on

      @Jarin Udom - Microfiche was my guess as well.

    12. Missing avatar

      Paul Radek on

      I get anxiously excited when I see updates for the Mini Museum. The regular communications have a wonderful build up for the completion of these historically significant artifacts. Even as I type this, I have butterflies in my stomach, and don't know how I will react when I see the museum in-person. Thanks to Hans and his team for undertaking such an extraordinary task.

    13. Paul Johnson on

      This must be a model Kickstarter project. The vicarious, yet palpable excitement in being a party to the fulfillment of one man's lifetime dream - the amazingly informative updates, and the ups and downs of a production run that exceeded, by more than an order of magnitude, all initial expectations - thank-you Hans (and, of course, your team) for sharing, but most of all thank-you for believing,,,

    14. James Nguyen

      I've really enjoyed reading your updates and this was easily the best one. You have done everything right so far and it has been amazing following your progress. My hat goes off to you. Can't wait to see the final product and marvel not just at the specimens inside, but the beauty of the museum itself (for it too has now a really interesting story to tell!).

    15. Jarrah on

      Good idea with the beard. Suspicious luggage and beards don't mix well.

    16. Missing avatar

      Aaron Christopher on

      Much needed update! Thank you Hans!! Looks great! :)

    17. James Closs on

      Lookin' good y'all.

    18. MDS on

      Hans!! You Still in DongGuang?
      I can't image you are so close to me, i work so close to you ,please let me know if you still here for share a dinner with you ;)

    19. Missing avatar

      Vincent feng on

      Are the dimensions still 5in tall 4in wide

    20. Brynn Metheney on

      How exciting, they are looking gorgeous!! :D

    21. Ian Hennes on

      Finding it hard to contain my excitement. can't wait!

    22. Missing avatar

      Nathaniel Salgueiro on

      Can't wait. They look amazing. You could almost make a second companion book from all your updates. They certainly have been entertaining, interesting and informative reads!

    23. Missing avatar

      Amisha Patel on

      ahhhhh so exciting!!

    24. Bruno Desclee on

      Great update ! Thanks a lot ! Wow, the mini museum is soooooo beautiful ! :-)

    25. Keith Jackson

      So beautiful! Well done!

    26. Øyvind Selbek on

      This Project has been one long thrill ride from start to present day. Amazing work, and the attention to detail you put into this is truly amazing to see. Keep up the good work, Hans! Can't wait to touch the final product.

    27. Missing avatar

      Markus Armstrong on

      You've really done it, Hans!!! Bravo!!!! I am sooooo excited!

    28. orejuela on

      Best update ever!

    29. Missing avatar

      Paul Boudreau on

      All I can say is "Wow!"

    30. Michael Steer on

      I am crazy excited about this :)

    31. Chad on

      Absolutely impressive

    32. UpstartThunder on

      Wow so so so happy about this!

    33. Missing avatar

      Lauren L Corbin on

      Your stories and adventures are just as exciting as our museum piece. Glad to meet the team of supporters. Hope we see photos of everyone. It truly is an amazing undertaking.

    34. CJ Siano on

      Thanks for the update. Looking forward to my Museum as well as all the other information you plan to share.

      Thanks for the details on the Mummy Wrap. Was wondering how that old material would take the cutting process.

      This has been - hands down - the BEST Kickstarter project I've been a part of.

      Thank you for making the effort to keep us all informed.

    35. Jarin Udom

      I'm throwing out a guess that "Gratitude" is a piece of microfiche with all the backer names on it :)

    36. Rom on

      Gratitude Specimen:

      Your beard will be on every Mini Museum? :D

    37. Nine

      Wow awesome, this will be a masterpiece of its own. Thank you for your continued effort and dedication to make this project so perfect.

    38. Stevo on

      I'm very curious what the 'gratitude' specimen is. I'm hoping it's a legit specimen - but even if it isn't I'm still excited to receive the museum.

    39. Missing avatar

      Tom Chantler on

      Hans, this is brilliant. I can hardly wait. I honestly don't think I've been this excited about anything for a very long time. No pressure ;-)

    40. Rom on

      Awesome update Hans. Excited!