New York Daily Photo Analytics

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Biodiversity

The American Museum of Natural History has a Hall of Biodiversity, where they have arranged a 100 foot wall in a timeline of complexity (called the Spectrum of Life) showing animal life as it developed from simple single cells to furry mammals. The elements were taken from their famous vast collections of every kind of butterfly, insect, mollusk, and every variety of creature preserved in the late 19th century. They all have been sitting in the carefully catalogued storerooms of specimens assembled from all over the world. In a way it is very sad to see these individuals arranged here because you know this represents a life taken away from Nature. At the time, though, this was the method scientists used to do studies - it seemed right to them to hunt and capture as many examples of the exotic and extraordinary as they could get. However, at this point, to discard these examples would not undo the past. So, they have displayed them in a beautiful and educational way and in a way, this recycling honors the lives of these creatures. Some of the elements are very beautifully made representations, for example the glass biota, created by methods no longer understood or able to be reproduced in the present.

16 comments:

slesta said...

this is such a cool museum. i used to love coming here.. i feel like everytime i visit, i always learn something new.. but most of ny museums give the same feeling.. i just love having my weekends spent to visit museums..

have u been to PS1 this summer? that's also my favorite place to visit in the summer, especially when they have the party... the building right in front of it is covered with graffity and i used to go to the rooftop to get a beautiful shots of the manhattan skyline...

if you do go there, please share the pictures... thanks!!

~tanty~ said...

Nice picture and very informative line.

Edwin Sumun said...

that spider-like creature at the top: the original inspiration of the Alien alien?

luggi said...

In a way this is kind of a hideous display. A visitor to our planet would be horrified at the spectrum of creatures squirming, flapping and crawling everywhere with the sole purpose of fleeing from or eating each other. In any case, the occasional culling for scientific purposes pales in comparison to the loss of entire species in the name of progress and economic expansion.

John said...

Loos scary, my daughter would freak!

John Nez said...

Great blog! I'm so glad I discovered it... as I lived in NYC years ago.

In fact I lived at 161 West 78th Street... so if I leaned out the window of my one room apartment in the brownstone I could see the Museum of Natural History just down the street.

I'm afraid that living in NYC has forever spoiled me for museums though... because everything since always just seems 'ersatz' by comparison.

My fiance and I used to go to the Museum of Natural History just to have a place to walk on those cold winter nights when the streets were all icy. The museum used to be open late on Thursdays I think... used to be kind of creepy sometimes being all alone in those huge dark halls with the gigantic bizarre creatures.

I love that Museum... it's like home to me.

Brian said...

Thanks all. Yes, I have sometimes imagined getting locked in after the museums close for the night, they seem to be pretty casual about getting everybody out, I bet you could hide and end up staying overnight if you wished...though that would be too spooky. Also there have been some movies set in this museum but I think they must be a pastiche because the last one, The Mummy implied that there are a lot of Eygptian artifacts on display and so far I have not found them. Edwin, the spookiest creatures they had up were too spooky to show close up, insects for example that were so large and elaborate they were like birds and these deep undersea creatures that create their own light and are really weird looking. Sad was the two Siberian tigers taxidermed standing in the middle of the hall, their paws were so large they seemed unbelievable. In those days people hunted and killed such animals for fun, which is so hard to believe today...and there are so few left...
L

edwin s said...

There were 2 stuffed Siberian Tigers? I don't know how I would react if I saw them with my own eyes. Your words alone sent shivers down my spine.

Brian said...

I was really shocked especially when I saw that they were real, and taxidermed.
Then I realized yes, people did this, the sport hunting, look at all the tiger and bear rugs people had, and the animal head decorations on walls. Once upstate at Bear Mountain Inn they have moose heads on the wall, they were almost bigger than I was, and just the head. And then I thought what can you do with all this stuff? To throw it away or even hide it under the rug would be sacrilegious. At least this way it has an educational use, we can see what Nature (used to) look like... The tigers were huge, their paws were bigger than my hands...I only hope they got a chance to reproduce before they died. Nature itself can be pretty cold, I don't think tigers die of old age too often, even being at the top of the food chain...but now there are very few left, this is how we still live with the decisions of the past every day...

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