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Review of AMNH Lost World Exhibit
I recently made the epic journey across Central Park to see the
American Museum's "Lost World" exhibit. I was a bit disappointed.
Warning: several mini-tirades follow.
As we all probably know, the AMNH is heavily endowed (if you
know what I mean), and has always had a pay-what-you-like policy,
unlike many museums. I've always liked that, and generally pay a
dollar to get in when I'm to be hit up for a supplemental special
exhibit fee of $4 or $5. Now Ellen Futter in her wisdom has decided
to charge you a flat fee of $12.00 at the door if you plan to see a
special exhibit. Charming.
We antied up our $24.00 and went in. Since we weren't going to see
anything else, we paid $12.00 each just to see the special exhibit.
I planned to take photos to send to a few friends who've expressed
interest and to look for the work of some artists I've become
acquainted with. We arrived at the exhibit to discover that no
photography or videotaping was allowed. Wonderful. I wonder why they
established that policy wink wink.
The exhibit is in the hall of Ocean Life famous for the lifesize Blue
Whale, which continues to hang there, although boards covered up
most of the ocean life, so if you want to see that stuff wait until
Lost World multimedia assaults you at this exhibit. This exhibit
is in large part a $12.00 ad for the movie. Clips of the movie and
special "educational" video by noted paleontologist Jeff Goldblum are
featured, as are large photographs of the stars. I scrutinized the
huge color glossy of Julianne Moore's face for a while wondering if
I'd made a wrong turn and gone to the Museum of Broadcasting.
We get to hear Don Lessem tell us in a display frighteningly
reminiscent of Mr. DNA that the movie "raptors" are
actually a lot closer to Deinonychus than to Velociraptor. Children
did not weep at this; they seemed to be to busy watching the
tiny Lessem climb around on the skull of D.
Front and center among the dinosaur displays are models of the
Stan Winston movie dinosaurs and an amazing lifesize Mamenchisaur
which is stunning. When you arrive in this hall you're on a
mezzanine overlooking the displays below. Staring you in the face is
the head of the Mamenchisaur which stands on the floor below.
Well-done. The rest of the SW stuff (Triceratops head, Stegosaur and
babe, T. rex chick, "Compies" and a "raptor") is a bit goofy looking
although my wife asked permission to pilch one of the "compies."
The meat of the display is crammed around the sidelines. The
skeletons on display, organized by Period, are, to my memory:
Young adult Tarbosaur
Yangchuanosaur, described as a megalosaur
Amargasaur skull and first few postcranial vertebrae
Sauropelta skull and immediate postcranial elements
Rhamphorynchus (almost hidden away -- the Wiccart sculpture)
and a few other things I'm drawing a blank on. It was great to see
this stuff -- it gives an unforgettable sense of scale. Mostly all
casts. They looked great.
At the end of the show is the inevitable gift shop setup,
prominently featuring the Kenner JP toys. You know, the ten foot
velociraptor? The giant Stegosaur? The tiny frilled dilophosaur?
Shameful for the *museum* to be selling this garbage. Where were
the Power Rangers toys?
The whole thing smacked of Big Money Being Made. It's not
representative of the museum I know and loved as a kid.
Before you go consider carefully whether seeing the interesting new
mounts is worth wading through the pseudoscience given a shiny veneer
by it's august surroundings and enduring the general feeling of
moneywringing all around you.
Your dystopic commentator signing off,
"Atheism: a non-prophet organization"