The weekend before last (Jan 15th 2011 for those that can't do the math) I went on a quick trip to an old childhood staple, Morrill Hall.
Morrill Hall is the University of Nebraska State Museum and it is known mostly for it's collection of mammoths and prehistoric elephants. It is a smaller museum but it is a good day trip for grade-schoolers. When I was in grade school it was usually bundled with the capitol building as both places do not take an entire day to visit and they kind of tie together because the Nebraska capitol building has a prehistoric design motif in many of it's various areas.
As I recall it had recently been re-done when I was very young, maybe 4th grade... and understandably it is looking a bit worn and dated today. It is still a very child friendly museum and kids can't really tell how dated things are necessarily so it's a popular destination for families with small children.
One of my favorite things was always the drawers of classified fossils... but the group would always want to move one before I got a chance to look at them all... and now all these damn kids were in my way...
Maybe it makes me a bad person... but I would love to have a fossil like this in coffee table format, under glass of course. I don't want people spilling tea on my invertebrates.
I think I have seen one of these at about every museum that has fossils ever... either a large number are reproductions or lots of these fishies died in the exact same pose...
Here is a display for our one dinosaur fossil.
After the fish it's on to the big mammals.
Probably largely overlooked by most visitors, but the displays have some pretty amazing frescoes behind them.
There is a kind of "Overview of Nebraska Fossil Records" which includes a skeletal farm for some reason, as well as this giant camel.
And this Map of Nebraska Fossil sites.
But not this turtle (tortise actually), he came later.
The main event, of course, is Mammoth Hall. In my day you could sit on the base of this, and usually that was where we all had a few snacks before leaving to the capitol building.
The mammoths are rather impressive.Did you know we are bringing back mammoths? We are you know.
One of the things that I always lamented in my youth was that this museum is not very camera friendly. The lighting is so dim and muddy that it was very difficult to get any decent pictures with my little disposable camera. The lighting was making my metering go insane. At one point it locked up trying to meter an area where I usually had my picture taken whenever we would visit (in front of a giant armored sloth).
They also have one or two smaller exhibits. One was a photographic exhibit on endangered frogs which you wern't allowed to take pictures off and this "History of Weapons."
There was something very odd about this exhibit that I didn't realize till about 1/2 way in... none of these weapons are really all that historical.. they are all weapons created and procured during the Age of Imperialism. They all come from nations that were subjugated by technologically advanced westerners during the resource land grabs. And not even the really early ones... these were from the really late acquisitions right before we (Westerners) decided that it wasn't cool to do that anymore and got mad when other nations decided to try it out.
Plus.. this is to clean to have been used...
There were also a disturbing number of weapons on loan from the Masonic Temple... including the beheading sword... think of that the next time you see the Shriners driving around in their little carts and fezzes.. they could be armed.
Oh wait... I have to take everything back.. they have one European dagger.
Pistols... also from the Masons... for all of their duels I guess..
Along with the small display there are actually a few more dinosaurs (sorry I lied for dramatic effect) but they aren't pictured because the room was filled with children... screaming pudding faced children. So I took pictures of some fossilized wood instead.
And this Malachite Azurite.
All in all it was fun to re-visit the museum after so long and being able to take the pictures I was never able to as a kid. Though it pales in comparison to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science that I went to in October, it's a fun little piece of Nebraska that I think is great. Even if it could use some TLC.
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