“Three-horns never play with long-necks!”

The exterior of the Natural History Museum
The exterior of the Natural History Museum

MD and I ventured into the Museum of Natural History to see its famous collection of dinosaurs, but we also found a series of contrasts in the museum itself. The main building is magnificent. It could rival many cathedrals throughout Europe for grandeur. Built in 1881, the museum houses an extensive set of natural collections from around the world.

The interior is not only grand, but this guy is the first thing you see as you walk in.
The interior is not only grand, but this guy is the first thing you see as you walk in.

But as we wandered around, we discovered a new wing with the curious addition of a giant cocoon with exhibit space inside. This annex also houses many working scientific departments, all behind giant glass walls, making me wonder how much these working professionals appreciate being the subject of intense observation by school children and other tourists. Rather puts the shoe on the other foot. Wedged between these two opposite architectural styles were also very ordinary-looking hallways. As I said, the museum is a series of contrasts.

Another view of the great hall
Another view of the great hall
This is the Cocoon in the Darwin Center of the Natural History Museum
This is the Cocoon in the Darwin Center of the Natural History Museum
And... random, ordinary hallway
And… random, ordinary hallway
A vertical view of the Cocoon
A vertical view of the Cocoon

The dinosaur exhibit was both extensive and meant to be terrifying.

The exhibit was cleverly designed in two levels with a walkway that allowed you to see the massive skeletons from two different perspectives.
The exhibit was cleverly designed in two levels with a walkway that allowed you to see the massive skeletons from two different perspectives.

The rooms are kept dark-ish, presumably to protect the bones and other artifacts from light damage.

Camarasaurus skeleton
Camarasaurus skeleton
Triceratops
Triceratops
Iguanodon skeleton
Iguanodon skeleton

This also means that the spotlights on each set of remains cast eery shadows on the walls. Then there are the animatronic dinosaurs, many of which sported bloody jaws, sinister looks and blood-curdling screeches. We got it: dinosaurs were dangerous. In spite of the hysteria, the museum has some great pieces here.

Dromaeosaurus animatronic dinosaurs - these guys had a blood-curdling screech
Dromaeosaurus animatronic dinosaurs – these guys had a blood-curdling screech
T-Rex animatronic dinosaur
T-Rex animatronic dinosaur
Dromaeosaurus skeletons
Dromaeosaurus skeletons
T-Rex and Triceratops skulls
T-Rex and Triceratops skulls
Tuojiangosaurus skeleton
Tuojiangosaurus skeleton

After the dinosaur section, we wandered through the gems and minerals – case after case of rare and common elements of every conceivable shape and color. When I was a kid, my dad (AKA the Bruce) was particularly keen to wander the countryside near my grandparents’ farm and often took whichever kids were around on his wanderings. He could spot a fossil or arrowhead at 50 paces, probably still can. He would never have organized his findings in pristine cases like these, but this room reminded me of him and those adventures.

The same Aurora Pyramid of Hope under ultraviolet light
The same Aurora Pyramid of Hope under ultraviolet light
The Mineral Hall
The Mineral Hall
Quartz
Quartz
Iridescent stalactites
Iridescent stalactites
Aurora Pyramid of Hope - the lights in this display gradually dimmed so you could see the impact of ultraviolet light on the stones.
Aurora Pyramid of Hope – the lights in this display gradually dimmed so you could see the impact of ultraviolet light on the stones.
Models of the famous Koh-i Noor diamond - original size and after cutting
Models of the famous Koh-i Noor diamond – original size and after cutting

Title quote: Cera in the The Land Before Time

Orodromeus nest model
Orodromeus nest model
Charles Darwin. He's also on the 10 pound bill.
Charles Darwin. He’s also on the 10 pound bill.

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