Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A short list of why I love [working in] museums

When I visit BNHM for a change of working scene about once a week, good things nearly always come of it. I'm going to sum up these good things with a list of bullets of why I love working in museums.
  •  Meeting other scientists. They're always coming to see the collections. Last week I met a former grad student from my department who now teaches at a small liberal arts college (aka SLAC). I'd heard about her from Herb and Leo since that is my aspiration as well, and it was great to finally meet her. Bonus: she also studies critters so we talked about that too.
  • Weird shit. Even relatively normal natural history museums have all kinds of weird things in their collections. Sometimes I get to see them.
  • Books. Boy do they have a lot of books- old literature especially. Very useful stuff. Sometimes amusing. Today I stumbled across this funny* little excerpt from a note entitled Don Rosevear- polymath in the journal Nigerian Field, 1978, vol. 43(2): 49.  
 "...At the British Museum, Rosevear introduced a new technique, which deserves to carry his name for all time, to mammalian taxonomy that involved the use of soap, sponge, and water. By the judicious application of this technique many species and subspecies of the hedgehogs of West Africa were reduced to synonymy by the removal of coloured soils in which they had habitually burrowed."
  • Seriously, though. It's been incredibly useful for me to have access to the library to find older literature that just isn't online. It's essential for this note I'm writing with Sam.
  • I feel smarter just from sitting in an office surrounded by so many natural historians, collections, and books. Yep, that's right, I went and did what I normally do in my office at UBC, but today I did it in a windowless cavern at Big Natural History Museum. But I was next to a whale skull.

 *Maybe I'm the only person that thinks this is funny, but I hope not.


penn said...

hahaha, I like that excerpt :-)

I like reading your blog, but sometimes it makes me nostalgic for grad school. I'm not sure if that's a good thing.

JaneB said...

It's funny! I love old literature...