Natural histories and inconvenient truths

Saturday, March 29th, 2008 | All Things, Friends

Visits to the American Museum of Natural History always bring back memories of my elementary school field trips, and the anticipation I’d feel — still feel — upon entering the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda with its towering Barosaurus, the world’s tallest freestanding mount of a dinosaur.

Herd of African elephants inside the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, and the start of our walk through the museum’s 28 meticulously detailed dioramas:

The refurbished Milstein Hall of Ocean Life:

Below, the 94-foot blue whale, under which I remember gathering with my young classmates for lunches of whale-shaped nuggets and french fries. Chicken, not fish, nuggets — though I suppose the latter wouldn’t necessarily make more sense… since as any fifth grader can tell you: whales are mammals.

These days, the area beneath the iconic life-size fiberglass model is fitted with benches for screening films. And on some nights, lucky 8-12 years olds set up sleeping bags on the floor here, as part of the AMNH’s sleepover program, which was reinstated last year after a two-decade hiatus in response to the renewed interest generated by the otherwise unredeemable 2006 film, A Night at the Museum.

The adjacent Hall of Biodiversity, which opened in 1998, features my favorite diorama in the museum: the walk-through Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest. We spent a few minutes there, but with time running short — we even had to skip the popular Saurischian dinosaur hall — there was time for just a peek inside the Planetarium.

Every longtime couple seems to have a sweet story of how they met, though most of the time the reality, like life, is slightly imperfect. At AP and SH’s home later that night for a cocktail fundraiser to benefit the Sunnyside CSA — yes, Sunnyside again! — I was reminded once more of the importance of having people in our lives who have known us through the years. In addition to providing considerable comforts and joys, they serve as a collective memory bank… and keep us honest in front of others and with ourselves.

Happy Earth Day!

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There are 2 Comments ... Natural histories and inconvenient truths

April 23, 2008

Ain’t love grand?

April 23, 2008

A many-splendored thing indeed.

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