Cabinet of Curiosities Maze
VIDEO BY CRAIG WILD/UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
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Trilobite Cabinet of Curiosities Corn Maze
Breaking news: Lodi, Wisconsin farmer unearths the largest trilobite ever found!
Trilobites, which were sea creatures related to modern day horseshoe crabs and spiders, last lived in Wisconsin more than 250 million years ago. These adorable monsters lived long before the dinosaurs, and are often found as fossils. To date, the largest trilobite fossil ever found was about 28 inches long.
The Treinen Farm Trilobite is far larger. Alan Treinen described the discovery: “I was just out in the cornfield, and we started cutting the corn and looking around. That’s when we realized we were dealing with something truly a-maze-ing.”
“I didn’t know what it was,” Treinen continued. “My wife said, ‘Oh, that’s a trilobite; you know, the Wisconsin State Fossil.’ I did not know that, but I do now.”
Treinen claims that the trilobite is 480 feet long. “We couldn’t believe how big it was!”
Experts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Geology Museum were also astounded. “That is a really big trilobite.”
The public is invited to investigate the corn maze trilobite on fall weekends starting on Labor Day weekend. The maze is open through the 2nd weekend in November.
How We Created the Trilobite Maze
Before we started to plan the 2017 corn maze, we were contacted by the UW-Madison Geology Museum folks, RIch Slaughter and Brooke Norsted. They suggested doing a trilobite corn maze–and they were pretty persuasive.
We talked a lot about making a trilobite the main image in the maze, and having a sort of geology-ish theme, and then having a lot of fun education and engagement opportunities. I was basically sold when they showed me their trilobite temporary tattoos. So, we were committed to doing a trilobite very early on in the design process.
The trilobite was a challenge, though, because a fairly significant proportion of people have never heard of a trilobite. And I was concerned that photos of the maze might be confusing as well. We prefer that people can easily see what the maze is supposed to be when they see the photo.
I struggled over this maze design for a lot longer than usual. I just couldn’t see a way to make the trilobite the main figure and the other geology and science-related imagery make sense.
Everything started to come together when I settled on an art nouveau style for the design. In a number of the earlier mazes (the dragonfly, the mermaid, Icarus) I’d used a Tiffany stained glass-esque style, and that started to get old. I decided that each year I would pick a different style. For instance, I used a folk art style inspired by linocut designs for The Fox and Grapes maze, and a Japanese Kawaii (“cute”) style for the Killer Baby Unicorn in 2016.
I found the art nouveau style to be interesting, and it was fun to research the artists and their work from that period. I discovered we had a lot of old books in the house from the period of 1890-1915 or so, and many of the covers featured art nouveau designs. I settled on art nouveau as the final selection when I broke my ankle and was unable to accompany my son on a school trip to Europe–I kept looking longingly at those iconic Paris Metropolitain entrances…
The art nouveau style is perfect for our maze because of all the organic forms, like vines and tendrils and all kinds of swirling lines–perfect for getting lost in! And trying out curving fretwork as a border gave me the idea to put the trilobite in a cabinet. A Cabinet of Curiosities, of course.
Cabinets of Curiosities (also called “Cabinets of Wonder”) were, according to the British Library website, “small collections of extraordinary objects extraordinary objects which, like today’s museums, attempted to categorise and tell stories about the wonders and oddities of the natural world.”
Perfect for our maze theme! We already had “Shelves of Curiosities” in our library here at the Treinen Farm, so it was simple to use an Art Nouveau cabinet design to contain the various preserved specimens in our Trilobite Maze Design.