at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, at their kind invitation.
WOW, what a great place for a movie. The Delaware Museum of Natural History is a wonderful, small jewel of a science museum, directly across the road from Winterthur. It was founded in the Fifties by John E. du Pont, who was a zoologist and (among other newsworthy events in his life), was also responsible for bringing triathalon competition to the United States(!)
The museum stayed open for us, and we got to go inside and gape at the actual dinosaur skeletons and the African Animals exhibit, which is full of the old-school style of taxidermy: the animals look incredibly dangerous, and highly pissed off. I can only imagine how every Delaware Great White Hunter bequeathed the contents of their trophy room to the museum, all of which had been mounted in traditional ripsnorting-yarn style.
Here’s a timelapse movie that Andrew Keyes took of us setting up, the mist rolling in, and the sky darkening. The last two-thirds are pretty uneventful, but the series of sparkles are from when the projector exploded, and master projectionist Eric Lewis had to rebuild it using every spare part in our box:
The movie was TERRIFYING. Seriously — Jurassic Park might be cute on the TV screen, but when the T-Rex is life-size, and it’s bellowing out its freight-train roar through a Lee Jackson hair-metal guitar amplifier… I was clutching Kate all the way through. And afterwards, museum director Halsey Spruance took us up to the third floor for a midnight behind-the-scenes tour of the shell collection (the fifth largest in the world!) and the rest of the taxidermy not on display, like the colossal polar bear in between the library cases:
We had a wonderful time, and I’m really happy that a number of folks were introduced to the museum that hadn’t seen it. They do actual science there, curating the bird and shell collections (which they specialize in), and doing field work. For instance, we heard about the cephalopod research they’re currently engaged in off the coast of Nova Scotia, which is important for understanding all sorts of things, including climate change.
By all means, if you’re in the area, stop by the Delaware Museum of Natural History and say hi to the dinosaurs, the birds, the shells, and the snarling animals!