Right and proper museums

Earlier this week J and I took the kids to the Bell Museum for school.

I really like the Bell. It’s an old natural history museum, from the era of dioramas and dead stuffed animals and skulls on stands. We all, in my family, like it. It’s not an all-day museum. There’s not that much to do. But we went to the travelling Smithsonian exhibit on soil, and we looked at the insect illustrations on the walls, and we walked up and down each hallway of dioramas. The kids cooed and squeed over adorable animals and their adorable baby animals.

We then went to the Touch-and-See room, where the attendant got out a corn snake for petting, and we looked at tortoises, and we looked at bones and crystals and trays of hoofs and insect wings. It’s an older style of museum experience. I understand, very well, that it is not practical or even particularly ethical to go kill a whole bunch of things just so kids can see the mounted corpses. But.

But I think there is value to be had. There is something … moving, really. About seeing the physicality of creatures one never sees in day-to-day life. Those Fox Squirrels? They are huge, and interesting. That elephant skull? Enormous. One gets a sense of the tactile reality of other life by looking at its death.

I am glad we mostly don’t hunt and kill things for museums anymore. But I’m glad that the old museums exist.

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One Response

  1. You and your family may then enjoy this new channel on youtube, called The Brain Scoop! Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/user/thebrainscoop

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