Floating easily on a light breeze in the sunlight, a butterfly lands softly in the new haven of Chucalissa's butterfly garden. The garden is a fitting new addition given the age-old symbolism of transofrmation associated with butterflies.
In the newest series of updates at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa, the butterfly garden is the clever creation of Rachel Clark, a senior University of Memphis history major who has worked as an intern at the Museum since Spring 2014.
Through small in size now, Clark states that with time, the garden will continue to establish itself and attract more butterflies to the area, an added incentive for visitors to come and see all that Chucalissa has to offer.
However, despite serving as a beautiful space to enhance the Museum property and draw visitors, the garden itself serves as a small-scale study on coevolution. The concept of coevolution is that as the garden flourishes, it will support and develop the current butterfly population in the surrounding area.
Clark also ensured that the garden would only represent plants native to the Mid-South and adjoining areas, carefully selecting her additions from various nurseries around Memphis.
"Each plant you see in the garden has a certain purpose," Clark said. "The wide leaves of the chocolate mint, Kentucky mint and dill are a place where caterpillars will build their cocoon to complete their metamorphosis. The cone flowers, Russian sage and bee balm attract the butterflies here."
Plans for the garden's future include the addition of milkweed, a plant known for attracting monarch butterflies during their migration, and an information board where visitors can learn more about the garden.
First-year master’s students Nur Abdalla (pictured left) and Colleen McCartney (pictured right) joined the Chucalissa staff this fall as graduate assistants.
McCartney and Abdalla have a mutual love for learning about different cultures, and each student is pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology with a certificate in Museum Studies.
McCartney, a Texas native, developed a love for Anthropology while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree at Texas Tech University. After learning about Chucalissa and the Museum Studies program at the University of Memphis, she decided to move to Memphis to pursue her master’s degree.
“The work I do here allows me to have experience on my resume upon graduation,” McCartney said. “I will not have only learned about Museum Studies, I will have experienced it.”
Her assistantship at the Museum allows her to work on projects, exhibitions, lead tours, and help host events. This semester she is focusing on a project to develop special needs programs for Chucalissa. The Museum hopes to make its space more functional for the disabled.
Abdalla, a Memphis native, attended the University of Memphis for her undergraduate studies and began the master’s program at the prompting of mentor Dr. Robert Connolly, the Museum’s Director.
“The program and the assistantship offer a lot of my interests in one complete package: studying cultural heritage, applied and educational anthropology, and preserving cultural heritage,” Abdalla said. “It is a very hands-on program, and enables me to engage the community.”
Abdalla is working on a project this semester that will allow visiting Girl Scouts to earn patches by working on activities at the Museum. The program will allow local Girl Scout troops to not only visit the museum, but have a chance to give back to the community.
Family Days - EVERY Saturday at 10am & 1pm
For the price of regular Museum admission:
Take a tour of the Museum, throw darts with an atlatl, conduct a scavenger hunt in our Main Hall, tour our Hands-On Archaeology Lab and participate in a fun educational program and craft activity!
For more information, please visit our website.