American Museum of Natural History

The entrance to the museum evoked a feeling within me which just made me look at the structure as overwhelmingly grand.  Truth, Knowledge, and Vision. These are three powerful words which respectively hold great meaning but together have a much more amplified effect; specially before you’re entering a museum. It prepared me in a way before I had to embark on my adventure.

The statue at the entrance just put the same word again in my head : grand. Coming from India, we’re used to the idea of service to others in a colonial form – so when there’s a larger image or installation projecting the same view – it feels normal. Not exciting, not demeaning, but normal. I’m unsure of whether I’m interpreting my view of what I saw correctly, but there was definitely a scene of hierarchical importance that in my opinion doesn’t necessarily need to belong at the entrance of an institution of knowledge. I apologise for my harsh opinion of the same.

Moving to a more experiential view – the Dinosaur was my first viewing of the day.

I feel this is possibly a great way to curate ones experience at a history museum : Introducing a larger than life part of history that is known to all humans and cannot be accessed in any other way than by going to a Museum such as this one. Also the idea of putting your best work right in front so that the first impression is made and then the ride only goes uphill.

Now, considering the level of my knowledge of American history (zero%), I decided to critically look at a more generic permanent exhibition – The Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins.

There are very few themes that globally cannot be changed by culture, upbringing, or tradition – and one of them belongs to the recordings of Human Origin, which existed before culture, tradition, or upbringing could influence mankind. And that is a fascinating concept in itself. To see Lucy and the primate evolution was like stepping into a time traveling machine and imagining something that seems so fairytale-like.

If given the opportunity, I would make this experience a lot more interactive. I saw Lucy as this santa-clausish entity and I could only wonder what s/he/it would sound like. Introducing an Augmented Reality aspect that could be used with tablets provided at the entrance would give the user that chance.

Also, for the children to completely immerse themselves, I would introduce a play pen where they could be a part of a role playing game using the Neanderthal tools for survival. This could be more hands on with them creating their tools and with built-in sensors, being part of expeditions that would be based on survival tactics and instincts.

 

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