Here be dinosaurs: An adventure in the American Museum of Natural History

With the planetarium, dinosaurs and diorama galore (as well as a starring role in the Night at the Museum franchise) I was expecting big things from the American Museum of Natural History. That’s Big Things both metaphorical and literal, and you know what? I wasn’t disappointed.

It was early on a grey autumn morning, with the bright red leaves brightening the trees and the sidewalks (pavements?) when we made our way to the park-side museum. The queue was already quite sizable, with tourists and school groups and who knows what else. Naturally we join the throng of people waiting for the doors to open…

More Museum Mannequins

Even though I’ve sat through Night at the Museum, where several  museum artefacts come to life,  I wasn’t expecting to see quite so many examples of the infamous museum mannequin. If you’ve stumbled across this blog before, you’ll know that I’m rather fond of these beloved/beloathed pieces of museum ephemera. If you haven’t stumbled across this blog before, you should see some smashing examples of the museum mannequin. 

The AMNH has some really wonderful examples of the marvellous mannequin, including this diorama of pearl divers.

Pearl Divers at the American Museum of Natural History

Pearl Divers at the American Museum of Natural History

The presence of the mannequins was both a welcome sight and a bit odd. In most natural history museums,  there are usually bones of and sometimes models of animals (the Grant Museum does both really well) but by and large, historical history isn’t something that’s covered. The AMNH throws this rule out of the window and shows you scenes from American History such as this:

Native Americans and new settlers at the AMNH

Native Americans and new settlers at the AMNH

As a Museum of Natural History, the anthropological galleries were an unexpected surprise. Again, anthropology isn’t usually something natural history museums cover.

I’m not complaining, because it’s an excuse a reason to include more mannequins.

Native Americans in the AMNH

Native Americans in the AMNH

Here be dinosaurs

It is safe to say that dinosaurs are the main attraction for any (and I mean *any*) museum. Even the ones that don’t have dinosaurs in them. I know first hand, as I work in such an institution and am often asked “Where are the dinosaurs?”.

It’s safe to say that the AMNH does indeed have dinosaurs in it. Any museum with the words ‘natural history’ in its name is required by public imagination to have at least one dino in residence at any given time.

The best tip for exploring *any* dinosaur gallery is to get there early, before it gets too full. Luckily for this particular adventure, the dinosaurs at the AMNH are way up on the top floor, so unless one makes a bee-line directly for them, it’s going to take a while for the crowds to meander up the many flights of steps and stairs.

And, to borrow a bit of a phrase, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that dinosaurs make for hella good photos.

Triceratops at AMNH

Triceratops at AMNH

Dinosaur at AMNH

Dinosaur at AMNH

Dinosaur at the AMNH

T-Rex at the AMNH

(Please excuse the dodgy angle on that last pic).

Taxidermy and things

Apart from dinosaurs, all natural history museums need some kind of animal display. Preferably taxidermy, but it doesn’t have to be so.

The AMNH owes a lot, it’s very existence in fact, to former President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, whose birthplace I visited on this trip.

Did you know that Teddy (or “Teedy” to his family) was a keen taxidermist?  The museum has an example of some of his work on display, like this owl.

An owl taxidermied by former President Theodore Roosevelt

An owl taxidermied by former President Theodore Roosevelt

I rather like him. Or her. The owl I mean. The label wasn’t clear on genders for the animals.

Of course, there were other examples that had nothing to do with Presidents. Like whatever is going on here…

An animal display at the AMNH

An animal display at the AMNH

Is it just me or does the one on the right look concerned?

But wait, there’s more! This adventure could have easily have just been about sharing some of the many, many (many) pictures I took at the museum. It really is one of the most photogenic museums I’ve ever visited.

Passenger Pigeons

Passenger Pigeons

Jack Rabbit

Jack Rabbit

Grizzly Bears

Grizzly Bears

Schoolkids around the elephant display

Schoolkids around the elephant display

And of course, this guy!

"Dumdum" the infamous Easter Island Head

“Dumdum” the infamous Easter Island Head

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s