American Museum of Natural History Photo Collection
June 26, 2008 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Well, there goes the rest of my day! I could look at the dioramas the whole time! This one is especially great.
posted by the_royal_we at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2008

What a feast! Totally awesome, and so meta-museum. Last year I attended a great lecture on the history of museums, and the speaker spent a lot of time on dioramas - what a leap forward in educational technology they were, how evocative and expressive and immersive. It's hard to understand now how groundbreaking they were considered to be at the time.

posted by Miko at 2:01 PM on June 26, 2008

This is wonderful.

The Smithsonian museums were always my mom's failsafe occupy-the-kids-for-an-afternoon ace; there were summers we made the rounds once a week. The Natural History Museum has always been my favorite.

The Exhibit Preparation photos are the best, men in lab coats meticulously drawing skins over wooden "skeletons"; a lone worker stitching up the stuffing gap in a bird, surrounded by finished ones mounted as if in mid-flight; the moving of a "brontosaurus" fossil. Many of the old dioramas at the museum look a bit fusty now, but the care that went into creating them is pretty wonderful.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:13 PM on June 26, 2008

posted by xod at 2:16 PM on June 26, 2008

Although it is centred on the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University, this long article, Museum manners: the sensory life of the early museum, gives an interesting outline of the way that people encountered and interacted with exhibits in the first museums.
posted by peacay at 2:20 PM on June 26, 2008

Great stuff. God, I love those dioramas at the AMNH. Used to go there whenever I could. That was back when the Museum was free. You paid what you could afford, or some really nominal entry charge, I can't remember exactly. Now it costs, what, 25 bucks or something, to get in? Drag.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 PM on June 26, 2008

You paid what you could afford,

psst, you can still do that, there and at the Met. They don't make this widely known, but it's still a "suggested donation."
posted by Miko at 3:57 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Really, Miko? Wow! I'll file that info away for a future date (next NYC trip). Last time, getting me, my wife and daughter into the Museum nearly broke the bank.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:59 PM on June 26, 2008

Meh. You'd think they could have spiced it up with a few siamese twins, bearded ladies, 8 legged sheep, etc.

Mr Potter could teach them a thing or two about making dioramas as well.

Now it costs, what, 25 bucks or something, to get in?

For 25 dollars, I'd expect oral sex from the bearded lady thrown into the bargain. How the hell do they expect poorer families to make that kind of payment. And while it may only be a 'suggested donation', in my experience, poorer families are much more likely to just not go for fear of being thought 'cheap', while better off families feel no compunction whatsoever about making a minimal donation. The philanthropists who endowed these places must be spinning in their graves.

Next time I'm expected to make a 'suggested donation', I'm gonna suggest I donate -$25 and then sit around waiting for my change.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:23 PM on June 26, 2008

herein is a nice selection of images pulled from the exhibition and the blog of one of the very nice blog of one of the people that helped put this online show together:
posted by refractal at 5:16 PM on June 26, 2008

This is great stuff. I love pictures of old school dioramas and displays in museums. Even better are pictures of little kids looking at old school dioramas.

Really, I like pictures like that, I'd collect them if I knew where to get them.
posted by marxchivist at 6:42 PM on June 26, 2008

Yes, really great stuff! I got to sit in a dark room and place 8 X 10 glass negatives on a scanner, one by one, and watch those photos come to life. The quality is so crisp and the detail so great, it was like time travel. That's the one sad thing missing in these JPGS.
posted by astropop at 7:10 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is marvelous peacay - so many great images - even better when enlarged. Here are a few I particularly liked:
children learning about baby animals
girl holding bullfrog
young women studying flowers

Thanks for the stellar post, loved this.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:04 PM on June 28, 2008

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