On May 5, 2000, the world’s first successfully cloned mouse died in her sleep of natural causes. She had reached the ripe old age of two years and seven months, about 95 in human years. Cumulina the mouse had lived a longer-than-average life.
Now her taxidermied body is moving from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, as a new addition to the institution’s permanent collection. The museum has also acquired a set of Cumulina’s footprints, made on her second birthday.
Ryuzo Yanagimachi and Teruhiko Wakayama of the University of Hawai’i (UH) created Cumulina in a lab in 1997. She was the first mouse to be successfully cloned from a somatic, or non-reproductive, adult cell, like Dolly the Sheep, who was cloned a year earlier in 1996. Neither animal was the first of its kind to be cloned, but Cumulina was significant because she lived to adulthood and because cloning via a non-reproductive cell marked an impressive scientific achievement.
“Cloning from somatic cells requires adult cells to revert to the embryonic stage, allowing for implantation in a surrogate mother,” reads a Smithsonian statement on the acquisition.
Cumulina, named after the cumulus cells whose nuclei were used to clone her, was beloved by UH scientists. When she turned one and two, they held miniature birthday parties for her at the lab.
The historic mouse will now be held in the Smithsonian museum’s Medicine and Science Division.
“I’m happy that more people can see her than here. It’s very good for us and for Cumulina too,” Yanagimachi told Hawaii Public Radio.
When Cumulina passed, Yanagimachi stored her body in a freezer, and a local high school teacher offered to preserve it by means of taxidermy. The result is Cumulina standing on her back legs and holding a tiny block of cheese in a glass dome display case.
Cloning technology and research have continued to advance in the last two decades. A major milestone was a 2013 clone of a human embryo used to make stem cells. Due to ethical concerns, however, the team of scientists did not allow the project to move forward. Outside of medicinal applications, cloning has also been used to increase the populations of endangered species. Last year, scientists cloned the first North American endangered animal: a black-footed ferret.
But cloning has also reached beyond medicine and environmental conservation. In 2015, a Texas company called ViaGen started offering pet cloning, charging $35,000 for a cat and $50,000 for a dog. A worker at the company said that they have cloned hundreds of pets so far.
In a press release, Smithsonian Museum of American History curator Kristen Frederick-Frost expressed her excitement at the acquisition of Cumulina.
“This tiny mouse will help our audiences explore complex topics, from the science of making copies of organisms to the ethics of doing so,” she said.
What would it look like if museums turned their billions toward positive good instead of questionable investments simply for profit?
Patricio Guzmán combines reflection on the past, observation of the present, and hope for the future into an expansive vision of all the ideas he’s explored in his work.
Artists reflect on histories of oppressive power structures in Brazil in this exhibition at the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
So closely do Disney’s animators assimilate the sensibility of French design that on occasion their source material appears almost more Disney than Disney itself.
The Grand Avenue Billboard Project enables artists like Karen Fiorito to publicly express their political views.
The museum opens to the public on October 8 with a 24-hour kickoff and a rebooted California Biennial.
The report estimates that 6.7 million Indigenous objects and human remains continue to be held in Canadian institutions, most of which do not have formal repatriation policies.
Funding options at UB include full-tuition scholarships for MFA students, the Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship Program, and additional opportunities for MA students.
The Association of Art Museum Directors announced a shift in its longstanding policy, which restricted the use of funds from sales of art to new acquisitions only.
Martín Mobarak may have broken Mexican law, but he burned the proof.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including the Maya Codex of Mexico at the Getty, Beatrice Wood, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and more.