30 kinds of wonderful: 21. Museums and dioramas.

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.
Now let’s go!

21. Museums and dioramas

Nerd alert on this one. I have a deep passion for dioramas, and have had for as long as I can remember.

Basically my favourite place as a child was the Australian Museum. I adored its silent, dusty, darkened rooms. The weird boxes filled with sagging stuffed birds and dull insects where you pressed a red button which was meant to illuminate the display but normally didn’t contain a lightbulb.

The dingier the better.

I also liked rattly dinosaur skeletons so much that I did two weeks of work experience at the paleontology department of the museum as a teenager. It was bliss. I opened a cupboard down in the basement and found a T-Rex skull (shriek!). And then I spent a day in a warehouse with creepy stuffed giraffes in plastic bags peering over my shoulder. I stuck a shattered sauropod (you and I call it a brontosaurus) femur together with glue – it was taller than me and many times heavier, for the record. I even met the creepy bug guy who stole all those artifacts.

As such I get quite mad when I hear that museums must modernise to attract and entertain a new generation. No they shouldn’t!!! If kids have insufficient imagination or attention span to appreciate how incredible natural things are without bells, whistles, flashing lights and videos I very much doubt they’ll get much out of it with all the ridiculous frippery added.

Grumble grumble kids these days. Hrrrumph.

So anyway. Thankfully a few places respect and appreciate the museum displays of old. The American Museum of Natural History in New York being one of the very best. Honestly, how awesome are these dioramas?

Possibly the most incredible museum display of all (my opinion of course) can be found in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, Boston.

They have cabinets… a whole room… filled with glass flowers!

Coolest thing ever? I know, right?

I am somewhere beyond devastated because my own photos of these exquisite creations have been lost. Livejournal ate them and my hard drive died with them on board. I am so bloody torn apart by this that (one of these years) I will book tickets to Boston and re-photograph those flowers. Just watch me. You’ll have to make do with this little picture from the glass flowers page for now though.

And while I’m in Boston I’ll go back to the Isabella Gardner Museum as well. That is one wild and wacky collection and there is nothing nicer than seeing the courtyard in bloom in the midst of a snowy Boston winter.

~ by Niccola on January 24, 2012.

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