Friday, March 4, 2011

My photo of the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History

This year we were planning a trip to New York in Sept of 2010. The American Museum of Natural History was definitely on our list however I cannot say the dioramas were as big an attraction for me as the dinosaurs and early mammals. However my wife bought me a book Darwin's Universe Evolution from A to Z by Ricahrd Milner a wonderful reference book with entries on many topics in biology and evolution. It was there I read about Carl Akeley who was instrumental in the creation of the dioramas. He lead five expeditions to Africa to collect specimens for the hall. In separate incidents he was attacked and almost killed by an elephant and leopard.  He shot among other animals, the five gorillas for the Mountain Gorilla dioramas. However Aleley was not just remembered for these dioramas.  Concerned for the fate of the African animals he loved especially the gorillas he worked  hard to encourage conservation efforts and he prevailed upon King Alberta the 1 of Belgium to create Virunga National Park in the Congo. Akeley died of dysentery on his fifth expedition and was buried in the gorilla homeland. He did not live to see the Akeley Hall of African Mammals that bears his name completed.

After reading this I was determined to at least stick my head in.  We looked at everything we could, Africa, North America etc.  Going from dioramas to dioramas, was like running thru the pages of the Animals of the World book I used to lose myself in at the library as a child. I was delighted to get a copy of Windows of Nature in the gift shop. It was great to read about the tremendous lengths museum staff went to collecting animals and plants and painting the backgrounds on site that were later recreated in the dioramas.  Sadly not only are many of the animals now endangered but some of the actual ecosystems have been destroyed. The dinosaurs, early mammals, early man exhibits the minerals, gems were all wonderful as well. We spent most of the day in the museum and it was not nearly enough. The museum has the best displays I have every seen

The shot below is a detail of the holographic postcard I bought. It was
interesting photographing a post card that actually has three different images.

A few weeks ago I received a email listing an number of collectible books on Africa.

How could I resist.

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