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Tillett raises some very important points in his posting.  I know one museum
where all the collections are visible to the public.  In the Univ. of British
Columbia Anthrop Museum all the artefacts are housed in glass covered drawers
with labels.  While this means you can't actually handle the artefacts as
a visitor at least you can see everything they have.  I am not so sure about
their access policy for actually handling the artefacts, but at least
this method of display provides about 10x's a much visible material to
the public.  I suspect that for many teachers and much of the lay public,
this sort of access would be sufficient to at least get some really good
school assignments started or to spark renewed amateur interest and awe.
Granted it is a more expensive way to house the artefacts, but it also
has one benefit for the museum - it forces them to catalogue, inspect,
and curate all their specimens. 

I for one would like to see more nat.hist museums use this type of display.

Bonnie Blackwell,                               bonn@qcvaxa.acc.qc.edu
Dept of Geology,                                (718) 997-3332
Queens College, City University of New York,    fax:  997-3349
Flushing, NY 11367-1597