Saturday, September 25, 2010

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

As I drove into Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon, we passed the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art, and I was immediately interested. I love museums, but my parents might disagree. As a child, I feel like we went to a lot of museums, and I did not appreciate many of them. I loved the science museums and anything hands-on, but art? Ick. I still find myself being drawn to sciencey-type museums, but my tastes have matured to also be accepting of art.

Since my Carnegie-Mellon visit was for recruitment, I knew I wouldn't have a lot of free time, but I was determined to find a few hours I could walk to the museum. And I did.

On Friday morning I got up early (9 AM) so I could get to the museums when they opened at 10. 9 AM might not sound early, but it is when you stay up until 3:30 AM voting and preparing for the next day of recruitment parties. I was free until 2:45 that afternoon, and if I was going to go to these museums, I wanted to have as much time as possible!

Here is a picture of the outside of the museum!
Admission was for both museums, but admittedly I spent more time in the Natural History Museum. Since I had gotten to the museum so early, I was one of very few people there. Almost immediately, I came to the grand staircase (pictured below). After snapping a few pictures, I had to figure out where I was going. I decided to start at the top and work my way down.

On the third floor was the Egyptian exhibit, Arctic exhibit, Native American exhibit, and a view over the Dinosaur exhibit. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed in the Egyptian exhibit, but it was SO neat. They had all different aspects of Egyptian culture: boats, pottery, jewelry, tools, creation myths, royalty and army information, and of course pyramids and mummies (people and animals)! I was amazed by what this culture was able to do so many years ago. The pottery was beautifully glazed, jewelry was hand-crafted, and the thing that surprised me more than anything was that they had tweezers back then! I don't know why I find that so shocking, but I do. Also, I am completely grossed out by the mummies. Most of the mummies had x-rays, showing the bones of the mummified person/animal. Ick.

The next exhibit I came across was the Arctic exhibit. This is a real, stuffed polar bear, and some fishing scenery below!

Connected to the Arctic exhibit was the Native American exhibit. One literally transitioned into the next, using the Inuit people as a segue. How clever.

Below is a picture of an example Native American home in Southwestern America.

During my sophomore year of college, I went on a Spring Break Service Trip to Wind River, Wyoming to an Indian Reservation. Ever since then, I have had a fascination with the Native American Culture and BUFFALO. I think buffalo are the most gorgeous creatures, and the relationship Native Americans have with them is so interesting. The Native American people are very appreciative of nature and animals, and take time to thank them or perform ceremonies to show their graciousness. For example, whenever a buffalo is killed, a special ritual is performed before doing so. The buffalo pictured below was actually killed specifically to be used for this museum's exhibit. Before killing the buffalo, a traditional ceremony was performed, thanking the buffalo for giving its life for education of others.

On the third floor, you could look over the dinosaur exhibit. Here is part of the exhibit from above!

As I worked my way down to the second floor, I came across the Life exhibit. Officially the exhibit was called Life: A Journey Through Time by Frans Lanting. (Definitely check out this link!) Frans Lanting is a photographer. He was inspired to begin this Life project because of a photograph he had taken of horseshoe crabs mating. Such an old ritual brought him back in time, and he was interested to see what other things in nature could help to reveal the past. His photography is absolutely phenomenal, and I spent an hour in this exhibit alone. I literally read every single description of every single photograph he had on exhibit.

It was still early enough in the day that I was the only person in the exhibit for awhile. About halfway through the exhibit, I was caught off-guard when a large family entered the room. I had been so absorbed in the exhibit, I almost forgot that I was in public.

I visited his website,, to look at the prices of prints, and the cheapest ones start at $400. Some are like $3,000. Daaaang. I really want one, eventually. First I need to go incredibly in debt for medical school, then pay that debt off, and then I'll think about it.

Downstairs, I went to the dinosaur exhibit. This first picture is of a triceratops. Triceratops have always been my favorite, because my name "Sarah" is in it...kind of. Also, the Land Before Time movie series didn't help with my favoritism.

Here is an incredibly awkward picture of me with a stegosaurus.

On the way out of the dinosaur exhibit, I came across a gems, minerals, and rocks exhibit. As a child, I absolutely loved rocks. Just ask my grandmother, who (unbeknownst to my father) agreed to carry back at least 5 lbs of rocks I had collected on a trip to New Zealand when I was very young. I had been begging to bring all of my rocks back, and my parents did not approve. My dad didn't realize his mother's secret until he went to lift her suitcase into the car. Thanks again Grandma :)

I wish I had a super fancy camera, because my little Nikon could not capture the intricate detail of anything. I took two pictures (below), neither of which turned out very well. The second shows how many different displays they had. I have to admit, I got a little impatient at the end, because it was at least 1 PM and I hadn't eaten lunch yet!

On my way out of the museum, I stopped at the gift store (of course). I didn't actually buy anything, but I did come across a pressed penny machine. I looooove pressed pennies. I've collected at least 30 from all over the country. I also came across this science kit called, "The Dangerous Book for Boys: Classic Chemistry." I was offended. Can't girls do chemistry too? Yes they can. Unless we're talking about liquid nitrogen, and sometimes they struggle with that. (If you don't know that back story, please ask!)

My visit to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was a SUCCESS! I am so glad I got to go!!

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures! My sister's name is Sarah and for a while my son called triceratops "Aunt-Sarah-tops."-- Hannah