Saturday, February 23, 2013

Behind the Scenes at the Natural History Museum

Did throwing in a members-only after-hours 'Centennial Celebration' with free dinner and free cotton candy and access to the staff and storage areas convince me to upgrade to a Fancy-Pants level of NHM membership?


Or perhaps I just wanted our family to help support this fine, fine institution.


Three-fourths of the family wished we had also come up with fabulous turn-of-the-last-century costumes like some of the other guests.  Ander especially was yearning for a top hat and tails.  And I may have experienced some semi-serious bustle and hat envy.

In one of those 'sometimes this city is quite small' moments, Ander ran into a good friend from school, and so a great chunk of our visit took on the feeling of a middle school 'we-don't-call-them-playdates-anymore,' with the adults lagging half a room behind the 6th graders (and their 3rd grade shadow).

But the best bit was getting to meet the Behind-the-Scenes Folk, some of whom (helloooo spider guy and fly gal) you got the feeling did not get out of the catacombs much, and who were just boiling over with information and quasi-religious enthusiasm.  We met three super-inspiring archaeology chicks: one was a student and docent, planning her graduate studies in ancient cultures; one was a young, ginger-haired and nose-pierced, in-the-field archaeologist who showed us some massive vertebrae from a dig she had been on, as well as an actual t-Rex claw that she had personally (squeee!) found; and another was an archaeologist who explained that "marine reptiles" are not dinosaurs, and showed us a ginormous flipper fossil. 

Second-best bit was the dinosaur puppeteers.  I couldn't get a good photo, but imagine something like this, but with a full-skin baby t-Rex and triceratops.  Sooooo amazing and Jurassic Park-like, especially when Ander stepped up to 'feed' one.

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