Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Museum of Natural History

Trip Taken: 2010

Museum of Natural History

There really is no good reason to go to Harvard’s Museum of Natural History unless you are a big anthropology nerd, into taxidermy, or somehow got caught up in the rain. The museum has been on my radar of potential things to do in Boston, but was never really high on the things to do. I thought that it would have been something to do if there was nothing else to do.

During my last few days in Boston, I didn’t really know where else to go. I visited the MFA, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and did a little shopping on Newbury Street. It was decided that we should visit MIT and Harvard. They both have subway stations that are adjacent to the campuses. Harvard and the museum came up in my thought process. And as fate would have it, it did start to rain.

Geology

Crystal Explosion

One of the very first things you do when you go up the two flights of stairs to the actual exhibits is choosing between going left or going right. I headed right and into the geology exhibit. There were stones and a plenty. Beryl, Quartz, Sulfites, sulfates, and on and on. There were so many rocks that there had to be twenty odd rows of rocks with each row displaying close to two hundred exhibits each. That’s my own estimate based on memory. Of course, it’s not even counting the larger displays.

I walked around taking photographs of rocks. I felt quite silly. Yes, some of these rocks are pretty cool and the geodes are always fun to look at. But unless, you are a serious rock fan it’s not worth more than a couple of minutes.

Taxidermy

Stuffed Bison

Now on to what I think is the way cooler part of the museum, the stuffed animals. It is a museum of natural history after all. There were plenty of cool displays and I think competes a little bit with American Museum of Natural History in New York. Of course, the collection in New York was displayed more presentably but the Harvard museum was no slouch either. The small aisles actually force you to see the stuffed animals and skeletons at a closer distance than you normally would. I did jump when I turned a corner and was face to face with a tiger.

I didn’t really talk much about the glass plant display or the anthropology exhibits. I think to appreciate the anthropology exhibit you need a little bit more explanation about each exhibit. A simple card telling us where it’s from won’t suffice. Is that knife used for rituals? cooking? sacrifice? Who knows and without the story I really don’t care.

Parting Words

Despite their large collection of rocks, stuffed animals, and dinosaur collection, it was not exaclty a worthwhile endeavor. The museum is fairly hard to find and the exhibits didn’t really justify the nine dollar admission. Come on Harvard. You can make the admission a little lower can’t you? You with the large endowment can surely give the public a lighter financial burden.

Picture Gallery

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.