Sunday, December 14, 2008

The real reason the churches resent Darwin

On Sunday mornings before noon, the Harvard museums are all free. Free I tell you! So that is where you find us, along with half the toddler population of Cambridge, at the Natural History/Peabody complex.

Harvard's Museum of Natural History galleries (and the upper floors of the Ethnography museum) have been largely untouched by modern museum practices. They do not have carefully curated, minimalist exhibits with guided learning. They have huge glass cases stuffed to the gills with dusty, musty, sawdust-leaking taxidermy surrounded by mothballs. And it is fabulous. It is like a big, indoor, dimly-lit zoo where the animals all hold still to be observed instead of hiding behind trees. The hippopotamus is cracked at the seams but it doesn't keep a certain someone from sprinting toward it yelling EPPAPAMUS!

There are some corners which have been slightly updated, though, including the Hall of Vertebrate Paleontology (DINOSAURS! RAR!), and they have a jolly crew of volunteer interpreters--elderly people and teenagers--who follow you around eager to share their knowledge. It's the same folks every week and by now they recognize us. They know that I will stand about five feet back from the Pet A Live Giant Millipede table while Mr. Fearless will elbow aside four 8-year-olds in order to get a front-row seat. They read nature stories at 11 and they have dinosaur teeth you can touch.

I don't think that much of the educational bit is sinking in with the boy at this point; he's just as interested in sitting on the benches in the hall of birds to watch big kids go by as he is in looking at the specimens. He has his favorites though--the aforementioned hippo; the moose; the yak; and of course the monkeys. He seems to like pretending to be scared a little; he kept insisting that a monk seal (whose glass eyes actually give him a goofy aspect) was going to bite off his arm. Whatever dude, that seal has been dead since 1911.

If you're looking for a place to go on Sunday mornings that isn't a religious place, can't get much better than this free, fun, and mildly creepy joint.


Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoy your visits.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is also free to Mass residents on Wednesday 3-5 pm during the school year (Sept-May), as well as on Sunday mornings 9-noon.
Or use your Charlie Card for a discount for a friend, or your Bank of America card for free Museums on Us weekends. Just a 7-8 minute walk from Harvard Square, Red Line MBTA.

Shirky said...

um does the museum pay someone to flag blogs that mention it and comment? and how can I get paid for doing that?

Anonymous said...

Terrific place for young and old! Many of our visitors are from all over the world. This is a Museum which is the "classroom" for geological and zoological grad students! Working as a volunteer has brought great joy to my life! Come and visit!

Clementine said...

Hahahaha! I'm cracking up over here. Way to increase your traffic, Shirky!

But for reals, I love those pics of you-know-who. He's too cute for words!

Gothic N3rd said...

I don't think you get paid for mentioning it. Yeah, its a great place to hang around, I visit there a lot.

Shirky said...

If these people aren't being paid, I'm baffled as to why they are trolling the internets for tiny, useless, unpopular blogs that mention it! the internet is endless strangeness.

Gothic N3rd said...

true very true, maybe they just came across it by chance.

Shruti said...

Hi Shirky,
great post.
we just discovered the Harvard Natural History Museum last month. It shall be our new go to place this winter.
Also-this is Biwani from Moxie! I would love to get together! really! I have always wanted to meet a fellow (local)moxie reader.
please email when you get a chance.
thanks for reaching out

Anonymous said...

Another Moxie reader with a 2yo here, and couldn't figure out how to email either of the two posters. I see an email address here in the comments for one, so I'll give that a try. I'm only solo with the 2yo weekday mornings when my older kid is in preschool, but would likely be up for getting together.

Shirky said...

email is

Shruti I emailed you!