Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Barcelona & Berlin's Natural History Museums

Visiting a new Natural History Museum is the best! Visiting one in a foreign country, even better! I am very thankful that I was able to hit both Barcelona & Berlin this summer.

Barcelona NHM


To quote straight from my Flickr album:

Barcelona's Natural History Museum was one of the most striking ones I've seen.

It didn't have the best taxidermy (though it was good), it didn't have the best displays (though they were nice), it wasn't very kid friendly, and it wasn't very populated. What it did have going for it was that it had AMAZING pro-science text. I've included 2 plaque shots in this album and I should have taken more. The wording was firm and in no way dumbed down. I even learned things!

It had the briefest early-earth section I've seen (fine with that!) and followed the double sided glass display style which appears to be so popular now. Good for viewing, horrible for photos.

I would HIGHLY recommend this museum if you're in Barcelona. It's north of the beach, along the shore. Great stop to maybe evade the midday sun (as we did).

Just thinking back to this museum fills me with joy and a pinch of wonder. There was a whole mini-room on evolution that is one of the boldest I've seen and actually did a great job trying to address confusions people might have with the theory. Another room was all about scientific naming, and it really impressed both Adam and I. A subject that I hadn't thought about (perhaps Adam had- he has a Philosophy of the History of Science degree) that was laid out in a clear and interesting fashion.

Cold Hard Truth Science Words

There was also a great section on molds and fungus with giant models and interesting video displays that I didn't a single shot of- by that point Adam and I were running around trying to read everything. Good times.

Berlin NHM

I visited Berlin's NHM back in 2006, it was one of the first I'd seen. Since then it'd been lodged in my brain as one of my favorites for their innovated design and large taxidermy on display within touching distance. (I did not touch it!) I also have great sketches from my visit and fond memories of a Swedish boy who flirted with me and a young child who "helped" me with my sketch (she didn't scribble *that* bad on it)

It had been under construction then so I shouldn't have been as shocked as I was that none of it was as I remembered. Missing was my favorite-est display of animal kingdoms across biomes and everywhere were the now tedious to me large clear glass displays. There was the token "bio diversity" display I see everywhere and dinosaur bones (well displayed!)

Cabinet o' Curiosities The Common "Wall of Stuff"

After a little bit of time though, I realized I was being unfair. I was sad that exhibits I loved were gone, but in their place I had to acknowledge that there was some really great and inovated displays. The taxidermy was still top notch (and new!) and as I wound my way through I found at the end of the path some of the old displays I enjoyed.

Their collection can also be jaw-droppingly impressive when you take in the scope of it. I know many museums have large collections, but this one really highlights it. The massive wet room was breathtaking and the storage you can peek at upstairs heartbreaking (that it's not ALL available for display)

So, despite my initial temper tantrum, I would still rank the Berlin NHM as one of the best, if perhaps still the best.

Modern Exhibit Design Always Gannets

I look forward to going back again in another 7 or so years.

Alexander von Hombolt!

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