Field Museum: The Switch: A Bill Stanley Story

Brad Dunn

Web and Digital Content Director, The Field Museum

Field Museum

The Field Museum 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 665 United States

MUSE 2016 Awards / Video, Film, and Computer Animation Gold


Nurturing Young Curiosity




When Bill Stanley, the gregarious Director of The Field Museum's collection of 31 million items, died suddenly while conducting field work in Africa, the Museum was shocked and deeply saddened. Bill, a character of legendary proportions, was beloved for his knowledge of natural science and gift for communicating this knowledge and connecting with normal, everyday people.


Using the audio recording from a talk Bill gave at the Chicago Ideas Week conference, staff Media Producer Greg Mercer proposed making a short animated film to share Bill's inspiring message, and to honor his life and work.

As a 12-year-old growing up in Kenya, Bill became interested in butterflies. When he became convinced he'd found a new species his mother took him to the National Museums of Kenya and introduced him to the curator of insects. The encouragement he received was all it took to inspire a lifetime pursuit of science, and a successful 25-year career at The Field Museum that provided Bill with a platform to inspire and encourage a new generation of scientists.

Co-directed by Museum staff producer Greg Mercer and Digital Director Brad Dunn, the story is vividly told through the hand-drawn animation work of Pat Bradley, a longtime Museum collaborator. This animated short story - as told by Bill himself - puts natural history museums in context as places where artifacts can be seen and studied, and as places where one museum professional can make an enormous difference in the life of a young person.


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