Two of the leaders were museum Curator Karl P. Schmidt, herpetologist and his tocayo, F.J.W. Schmidt, mammologist, job titles which had me worried for a moment or two, but in fact point to specialisms in amphibian and mammalian life respectively.
In the silent, four-reel version, the full contingent gathers on deck before steaming out of an American port, and viewers can clearly see that one of them is brandishing what looks like a pair of skis. Unless these were ultra-thin depression-era surfboards, they are not the sort of items one would immediately think of packing for a trip to Guatemala, but then perhaps one of the adventurous academics thought it might be a lark to water ski up the Rio Dulce. I know I would...
The elegaic mood has been masterfully emphasised by the music of Estonia's greatest living composer, Arvo Pärt. Swap out this score for Wagner and you have a documentary which deploys sections of the Chicago museum footage to more ill-informed and ultimately xenophobic effect: Menace of Guatemala (1934).