Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Afghanistan
February 20, 2008
December 1, 2004
From journal dinosaur museum in Boston
September 3, 2002
Our "hometown" museum is the gargantuan Smithsonian, which is a tough act to follow, but I actually prefer a less sprawling museum like the HMNH, which doesn’t pretend to exhaustively cover all branches of the natural sciences. What Harvard has, however, are select, well-focused exhibits with an emphasis on historically important material and evolutionary theory (which is ironic, considering that the museum’s founder, Louis Agassiz, made many critical attacks on Darwin’s theory of evolution).
Using our CityPass, we entered the museum not from the main Oxford St. entrance, but, on the advice of a docent at the Sackler Museum, through the Peabody Museum’s Divinity Street entrance. Walking up the stairs to the Peabody’s displays we were chagrinned to find that the old building lacked air-conditioning. We didn’t linger in the broiling Peabody (which is unfortunate, as I’d hoped to see some of the museum’s famous items from the Lewis & Clark expedition), but pushed on to the connected HMNH, which offered some relief by way of window air conditioners.
The first "museum within the museum" we encountered was the Mineralogical collection, featuring case after case of impressive specimens. A 1,600 pound amethyst geode from Brazil holds pride of place in the main room, but equally impressive are the meteorites in the adjacent room. Moving on to the next exhibit, we got a taste of the idiosyncrasy of Harvard’s collection. The Botanical display is undoubtedly one of the most unique in the world, consisting entirely of stunningly lifelike glass flowers commissioned by Harvard in the late 19th century and painstakingly crafted by two glass artisans, Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph, who labored almost fifty years to produce some 3,000 glass specimens. This, I confess, was the last thing I’d expected to see, a tour-de-force of artistry combined with scientific accuracy. Most impressive.
The last hour of our visit was spent happily pottering through the Comparative Zoology exhibits. Here we found the expected dinosaur fossils, the most awe-inspiring being a 42-foot-long Kronosaurus and the famous "Harvard mastodon" found in New Jersey in 1844. In the hall containing whale skeletons we chatted with the enthusiastic volunteer docent about the specimens in the room. My son was delighted when she pointed out the stuffed Tasmanian Tiger-Wolf, now presumed extinct. From there she led us on an engaging tour of marsupials and other zoological oddities. Only my rumbling stomach registering a steady complaint about our long-deferred lunch prompted the end of our visit.
From journal You Say You Want a Revolution
June 26, 2002
From journal Harvard Square; not just for students