One thing I can count on for science writer get-togethers: parties at museums. (Sometimes, anyway.) In February, we had a reception at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Last week at the NASW/CASW meeting in New Haven, there was a dinner at the Peabody Museum of Natural History. I feel like this sort of brings me back where I started with the museum tourist posts, since my first one was about Harvard’s natural history museum and this is Yale’s. And Harvard and Yale are pretty much the same, right? Ha ha. I jest. Sort of.
Anyway. This museum distinguishes itself from the start with this exciting sculpture outside:
So, you probably look at that and think “Triceratops.” You’re smart. You can count horns. But no! It’s a Torosaurus. Different! Ok, except you may actually be right, because there’s a new theory that Torosaurus is a juvenile Triceratops. Soooo, yeah. You win. I was looking at the display on Torosaurus inside with a friend and she said, “That’s the one that doesn’t exist anymore, right?” referring to this research, which I didn’t know about, because really, I have enough to do without keeping up on which dinosaur is now actually which other dinosaur. I believe I said something like, “Aren’t they all gone?” Because, you know, dinosaurs. They’re extinct. Hilarity ensued.
The museum has a fair number of Native American pieces, including some fantastic masks from the Arctic and Sub-Arctic. This one has a lot of character:
It’s from a group who lived along the Yukon River in Alaska. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be funny; a dancer wearing this mask came in at the end of a night of ceremonial dancing to bring a little slapstick to the occasion.
This Yup’ik mask, from up in the Arctic, is supposed to represent a smiling spirit, and I think it succeeds:
Those are thumbless hands, not forks.
Also from an Arctic group, admire this net float.
It’s a seal! Holding up a net! So cute!
And finally, some whales:
They’re carved from walrus ivory. Also, they are way cute.
The museum also had several artifacts and a very cool model of Machu Picchu, the15th-century Incan palace waaayyyy high up in the Andes. It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that a Yale expedition discovered it, because of course people who lived nearby knew about it, but it was introduced to the rest of the world by Hiram Binham, a Yale historian, in 1911. The model probably would have been even cooler if the associated audio had been working.
But still, it was pretty neat. It’s fun to be able to walk around a museum at night carrying a beer (or other beverage of your choice). One of the other science writers said the guy who drove his shuttle bus from the hotel to the museum was totally impressed by this, and the science writer felt kind of guilty that he was getting to enjoy this totally cool museum experience that the bus driver can’t have. So, Peabody, there’s a shuttle bus driver out there who’d sure like to get to check the museum out at night someday.
For all my Museum Tourist posts, click here.