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RE: Museology

---Jeffrey Martz <jeffmartz@earthlink.net> wrote:

>In other words, "focus attention on the conjectural 
>and periferalize the known".  A museum goer looking 
>at a life restoration of an extinct animal is NOT 
>looking at "the real animal", its looking at an 
>artists interpretation of what the animal MAY have 
>looked something like when alive.  

These differences aren't as extreme as all that.

First, let's confess that there's more than a little conjecture in the
way that the skeletons are restored and displayed.  For a good
example, go look at the feet of the Tyrannosaurus rex in the AMNH.

Second, let's give the paleolife artists their due.  They are right
there on the cutting edge of dinosaur science and work in close
consultation with paleontologists in preparing their displays.  (So
shelve those fears that the artists would make the scientists take the
back seat. :)  )

Finally, let's admit that skeletons do not walk around without their
muscle tissue and organs, etc., so deploying them that way is of
course far beyond conjecture -- it's fantasy, and a bizarre relic of 
nineteenth century sensibility to boot.

>Skeletal mounts may only show what the skeleton
>looked like, but they probably do it more accurately 
>then a life restoration does at showing what the 
>whole living animal really looked like.

Well, I'd wager lots of money that your calculus is not something of
relevance to the average museum goer. What people really want to know
is what the animals looked like.  I think they'd readily forgive the
conjecture in order to walk away with a real sense of the animals as
living, breathing things.  

It's virtually colloquial that many people think that dinosaurs are
"just a bunch of dusty old bones in a museum."

>  Anyway, us "walking bag'o'bones diehards" can't see >all those
unflashy yet relevant little anatomical >details in a scale model.  

Then put on a white lab coat and go look at a specimen.  You realize
of course that the skeletons are not displayed as they are for study
by paleontologists.  A tragic but inescapable fact of life.

In any event, if you want to see the details, you'd probably prefer
that the skeleton be displayed disarticulated with the most important
features displayed front and center, no?  After all, a good deal of
that unflashy yet relevant anatomical detail is obscured when the
skeleton is mounted.

The third was asked which animal was the smartest of all, and the Brahmin 
replied: "The one we have not found yet."
---From Plutarch's biography of Alexander the Great


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