Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Intro to the Museum

One of the most memorable moments of our first week of the internship (for me at least) was when we found out that less than 1% of all the museum collections are on display for the public. Less than 1. Seriously? Where is it all? The everyday visitors happened to be just as surprised. All I can say is that I am immensely grateful for our intern tours. A brief blueprint for the museum:
  • There are three levels open to the public (Ground, Main, Upper) but there are plenty of secret doors and passageways that lead to the behind the scenes action. In fact, if you open the door in Dr. Kevin Feldheim's office you can find yourself in the middle of the Pacific Spirits exhibition.

  • The museum built two sub-levels in 2005 to house their expanding collections, because they were literally running out of room but couldn't change the exterior of the historic building. These levels are awesome and we've been able to see not only the fish collections but Kevin let us stick our noses into row after row of other creatures. Seeing a primate's face in a jar is a little too human and a little too creepy to post, but there were plenty others.
Great White Jaw (which we proceeded to touch)

Baby Hammerhead

Komodo dragon

Little baby polar bear

The cutest hedgehog I've ever seen

  • Then there are the upper levels, and not just one, but two; the fourth floor is only accessible at certain places on the third floor, though. Filled with offices, collections, and more research facilities, that's where Dr. Shannon Hackett took us to look at the most gorgeous birds. Remember the birds of paradise from Planet Earth? We saw those, along with some even more beautiful that I had never seen before. Fun fact: blue birds (like our some of our Tanangers) don't actually possess any blue pigment. Instead, the structure of their feathers provides the magnificent color. So if you see a green bird, most likely it will be filled with yellow pigment and....a blue structure!
  • Word of caution: everything on the third floor looks exactly alike. Every hallway, every turn. if you rely on landmarks for directions...good luck is all I have to say. Let's just put it this way, I'm afraid to go up there alone - I'm a fan of the buddy system. 
  • You can also find the library and the Rare Books Room up there. Now that stuff is cool. I couldn't resist holding and flipping the pages of books from the 1800s. The Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society was especially helpful in our pathogens project.

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