Knights at the Museum

Clare Flemming, ’90
Associate, Vertebrate Zoology (Mammalogy), American Museum of Natural History
Brooke Dolan Archivist, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia

Over the course of 24 American Museum of Natural History expeditions, archivist and documentarian Clare Flemming has rappelled into unseen depths in West Indies caves, trekked across frozen tundra, and explored parts of Antarctica. See her documenting an Antarctic expedition in search of mammalian fossils.

  • Clare Flemming in an archivist.
    Knights at the American Museum of Natural History

    Like many of the early naturalists—Audubon, Darwin, Muir—Clare Flemming has a flare for art and science. At Douglass College, she fashioned her own undergraduate major, a combination of biology and scientific illustration that would become the bedrock of a career devoted to the documents, photographs, illustrations, and memorabilia of the natural sciences.

  • Clare Flemming en route to Antarctica.
    Knights at the American Museum of Natural History

    Flemming's "omigosh" career moment came in a Rutgers biology class when professor Kathleen Scott played a video of herself dissecting a rhinoceros at the museum. "Is this the place I know for its dinosaurs? Is there honestly a lab there where a rhino could be dissected today? … That is where I have to work!" Flemming thought. Above, she is on an icebreaker en route to Antarctica.

  • A 2007–2009 Antarctic expedition team treks amid falling snow.
    Knights at the American Museum of Natural History

    In search of exposed landscape where they will prospect for 45-million-year-old Eocene mammalian fossils, mammalogy curator Ross D. E. MacPhee's 2007–2009 Antarctic expedition team treks amid falling snow on Seymour Island, Weddell Sea.

  • Flemming supports MacPhee's annual field expeditions.
    Knights at the American Museum of Natural History

    As museum associate, a coveted affiliation, Flemming supports MacPhee's "annual field expeditions where I serve as primary documentarian and photographer, but also camp cook, gear schlepper, and fossil hunter along with the rest of his crew." Over the years, MacPhee teams have found the remains of woolly mammoths, an ice-age wolverine, and even extinct 6-foot-tall penguins.

  • Documenting the Antarctic expedition.
    Knights at the American Museum of Natural History

    As scientific assistant in mammalogy at the museum back in 1991, Flemming "fell in love with skeletons, then fell deeper in love with documents about them." Here in the Antarctic, Flemming takes expedition notes, documenting "who collected what, where, and when." She is aided by the right gear: "cameras, GPS, 'Rite-in-the-Rain' notebook, and the endlessly useful pencil."

  • Flemming is the archivist at Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences.
    Knights at the American Museum of Natural History

    Flemming has journeyed from full-time research assistant at AMNH to Explorers Club archivist to the post she now holds—her "dream job"—as Brooke Dolan Archivist at Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences, an AMNH sister institution. In the storied library of the academy, Flemming (right) engages a family of academy members over the institution's handwritten founding documents.

  • Clare Flemming in the American Museum of Natural History Roosevelt Rotunda.
    Knights at the American Museum of Natural History

    To the Rutgers professor who inspired her fulfilling career, Flemming says, "Dr. Scott: thank you for revealing the hidden world of hands-on mammal research. You shaped my career at a very early stage, and I remain grateful." Photos 1 and 7 by John Emerson. Photos 2, 4, 5 by Ross D. E. MacPhee. Photo 3 by Clare Flemming. Photo 6 by Katie Clark/Courtesy Academy of Natural Sciences.

  • Clare Flemming in an archivist.
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  • Clare Flemming en route to Antarctica.
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  • A 2007–2009 Antarctic expedition team treks amid falling snow.
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  • Flemming supports MacPhee's annual field expeditions.
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  • Documenting the Antarctic expedition.
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  • Flemming is the archivist at Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences.
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  • Clare Flemming in the American Museum of Natural History Roosevelt Rotunda.
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