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Re: Museology



In a message dated 3/9/99 8:37:42 AM Eastern Standard Time, th81@umail.umd.edu
writes:

<< What would the ideal early 21rst Century dinosaur hall look like at a given
 museum?
  >>
First, the reality.  The exhibit I most regret missing came some 14+ years ago
when every probable human ancestral fossil was gathered in one place.  These
were the real objects, something which once lived and moved.  Anyone not been
affected by the Taung child?
Museums should trade so that it is possible to look at a range of real
fossils, showing changes through time or variations among contemporaneous
species, something which gives depth.  The fossils must be there to show what
we have.
Still part of reality, it must be possible to touch the fossils, to put your
hands on a tooth and feel the serrations or on the wonderful ball and socket
joint at the base of a ceratops neck.  To feel how smooth the wear is...  Or
to bump your hand against the end of a ceratops horn...
People are tactile.
The exhibit can also gain by showing fossils with wounds and fractures and
signs of healing and disease.  This suggests a lot about living, which leads
to the speculative.
Now, no museum is going to be able to duplicate a movie's effects.  Even the
animatronics do the same thing over and over again.
I suggest a walk through a terrarium, living plants of a type similar to the
fossils, with reconstructions of the extinct scattered through unobtrusively.
Use any environment you want (connected to the real fossils people have just
touched), but make it a walk in a garden.  What would you normally see?
Certainly not Trex here and a cluster of babies nearby.  There may be
comparatively few animals seen, but the emphasis should be on movement,
something disappearing quickly into the bush, for example, or landing on a
branch and looking down.  (You may have to set this one on a roller rather
than let people use their own speed, but if it's slow enough there shouldn't
be complaints.  At the Ct dinosaur park there's a long walk over a swamp on a
broad wooden trail.  It's a good way to understand a swamp and stay dry, and
people do move along.)
Then as people leave they go through a cavernous space where computer graphics
can be used to show major events like herds stampeding or an attempt to cross
a river.  This can be tied back to the start if there were, for example, a
drowning and the bones assuming a position shown in matrix through a kind of
stop action.

So, just speculating, some of this might not work, but the most important
principle is the re-creation of the alien world which lived here a long time
ago, with enough connections to get a sense of the reality of that world and
the way it worked and the way we know about it.

Hope this helps.