Thursday, May 07, 2015

Boston 2015--Part 3: The Harvard Peabody Museum of Natural History

I've been to the Harvard Peabody Museum of Natural History 3 times already--once by myself, once with my daughter Timna and her two boys, and once with my 3-year- old grandson Eli.

This museum is on one floor of the building--the third floor.The areas that I enjoyed the most were
    Earth and Planetary Sciences
    Glass Flowers
    and (life in the) the New England Forests

The most amazing part of the museum for me is the huge room of rocks and minerals in the Earth and Planetary Sciences section.  After walking through the Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology, I moved through Climate Change quickly into the huge Earth and Planetary Sciences area which was filled with rocks and minerals from many parts of the word in many shapes and colors.
Less than 1/4 of display space

  Enjoy a few pictures that I took:

From Arizona...One of my favorites!  The sparkle is real!!
Beryl from Minas Gerais, Brazil (a place I read about years ago)
Calcite from Brazil
 Another color of Calcite from Cambria, England:

Case of gems

Dioptase from Arizona
Elbaite from Southern California
Just Amazing:  Flor de Lisa, Brazil
Flourite and Borite from Cambria, England

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And Gymsum from Tunisia
I love the  lines of the piece below.
Kyanite from Brazil
Labradorite from Madagascar
Quartz, Wyoming
Quartz, Brazil
Quartz Namibia
Beautiful quartz slice
Quarts inside stone, opened

Smothsonite, various
Stibnite, Japan
Rosasite, Durango, Mexico
Mesolite from India
Malakite, Arizona

When I visited with my grandson Jonah (age 8), he was fascinated by the history of the earth and and stones of the earth.  It took up half of one wall area.

My 3 year old and 5 year old grandsons liked to touch and climb on the meteorites.
The glass flower exhibit, one of the museum's most famous treasures, was astonishing.  The Wave collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plans, the "Glass Flowers," includes over 4,000 models, some 3,000 on display, representing more than 830 plant species.  .  They were created by father and son Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, nineteenth century glass artisans who perfected their family craft.  
The work was started in 1886 and continued for over 5 decades.


Glass Flowers and glass rotting fruit
 These were amazing.  We could not believe they were made of glass!

Eli also enjoyed the New England Forests room, and the dioramas there were very nice.
I was really uncomfortable by the stuffed animals, in glass "boxes" in plain rooms with little labeling.  It reminded me of museums from 50 years ago.

Eli also loved the cockroach exhibit and watched the insects roam around in what looked like a  glass fish tank.
The rock and glass flower collections are amazing and worth the visit.  I also found the gift shop fun and educational.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Boston 2015--Part 2: Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

I visited this museum on a Sunday in early February, 2015, in between snow storms in the Boston area.  I got a family membership and have come back to other museums in the area, alone and with family, several times.

This museum is connected to the Harvard Peabody Museum of Natural History on the top floor, so I passed on through there too, but will write about that museum another time.

This museum is small, but has some excellent content.  The museum was founded in 1866 and is one of the oldest museums dedicated to anthropology.  The museum website tells about a lot of the collection, much of what was not on display, including the largest collection of artifacts that have survived from the Lewis and Clark expedition and early collection of items from the South Pacific (some of which I saw).  Here is the website with a focus on the history:

The section on Indians of the US was excellent.

One of the temporary exhibits is titled Lakota Images of the Contested West.  
Large Sign introducing the exhibit
An excellent sign called "The Contested West" states that although that American history tells of the West as a land of opportunity, for the Indians, national expansion was devastating.    Soldiers, miners, and civilians flooded their lands.  Bison were killed, almost to extinction, and tribes were forced to live on reservations, often not where they had lived previously.  Factions in tribal and federal  governments had differing opinions on how to settle problems and attempts were tried, but were unsuccessful.    So by the 1860s, fighting escalated in a war for the Plains. Pictures below were drawn by warriors trying to protect their way of life, their homelands and their families.  The identity of the artists is unknown.

Ledger Book of Drawings

The layered pages in the book show the history of violent interactions between Lakota Sioux and Anglo Americans as they fought for control of the Great Plains during the 1860s and 1870s.  It was found in a funerary tipi after the Little Big Horn battle.  The book is the "focus of ongoing consultation and research by Houghton Library, the Peabody Museum, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe."

There was a brief explanation of Tatanka-Iyotanka (Sitting Bull) , the leader of the Indians at Little Big Horn, that I found was an important note to include.

I was fascinated by the drawings, of which there were many more, and of this system for recording battles.

In enjoyed the small section on Pacific Northwest Indians too.

 Isn't the button blanket beautiful?

A special exhibit on the Penobscot Indian Canoes was small but worthwhile  too.
Native American birchbark canoes have often been described as one of the greatest inventions in human history and were copied by Euroamerican fur traders and sportsmen. The Legacy of Penobscot Canoes: A View from the River explores the enduring importance of rivers and canoes in Penobscot tribal life and on relationships between the tribe and non-Indians. I also saw a rarely seen full-size bark canoe purchased from Penobscot Indian Francis Sebattis in 1912, as well as stone tools collected by Henry David Thoreau, who described the Penobscot and their canoes in The Maine Woods.

Finally, I was touched by an Indian artist's rendition of his experience in Vietnam:

I also saw these hair ties of abalone shells and glass beads made by the Yorok tribe of the North coast of California  and was fascinated by them.  They were used in women's hair the Brush dance  and made a tinkling sound.

Upstairs I found a number of dioramas of Indian housing, which I also found fascinating. I took photos of some of them.   Please excuse the poor quality of the photos.  It was hard to take pictures through glass. Notice the location of the tribes in the US maps at the bottom of each photo.
Diorama of Alaska Indian Living Group
Diorama of Native North American housing
Creek Council Housing
Nootka Home and Whaling Scene
Wichita Area Houses
Creek Council Houses
There was a room with collection of items of Latin America.  Since I had been in that area, I was not impressed.  There is a small area for items of Dia de los Muertos (Nov. 1) also.

I was also intrigued by the intricate designs on bark cloths, skits and mats from the Pacific Islands on the 4th floor.
Four examples of bark cloth follow.

Below are examples of mats and skirts.

Below is an example of tools used by the Pacific Islanders.
I was in the museum for about an hour and then moved to the Natural History Museum--all on the same ticket and had a nice day on the visit.  The only small problem was parking--I was there on a Sunday so I didn't have to pay for metered parking.  When I went on other days, I needed quarters (4 for an hour) to pay for the parking and only quarters worked.