Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums

Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums

by Stephen T. Asma
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195163362

ISBN-13: 9780195163360

Pub. Date: 05/28/2003

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

The natural history museum is a place where the line between "high" and "low" culture effectively vanishes -- where our awe of nature, our taste for the bizarre, and our thirst for knowledge all blend happily together. But as Stephen Asma shows, there is more going on in these great institutions than just smart fun. Asma takes us on a wide-ranging tour of natural

Overview

The natural history museum is a place where the line between "high" and "low" culture effectively vanishes -- where our awe of nature, our taste for the bizarre, and our thirst for knowledge all blend happily together. But as Stephen Asma shows, there is more going on in these great institutions than just smart fun. Asma takes us on a wide-ranging tour of natural history museums in New York and Chicago, London and Paris, interviewing curators, scientists, and exhibit designers, and providing a wealth of fascinating observations. We learn how the first museums were little more than high-toned side shows, with such garish exhibits as the pickled head of Catherine the Great's lover. In contrast, today's museums are hot-beds of serious science, funding major research in such fields as anthropology and archaeology. And in Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads, Stephen Asma reveals that what we don't see -- the scientific research that is going on backstage -- is just as fascinating as the exhibits on display.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195163360
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
05/28/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
861,301
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
Introductionxi
Chapter 1Flesh-eating Beetles and the Secret Art of Taxidermy3
Chapter 2Peter the Great's Mysterious Jars: How to Pickle a Human Head and Other Great Achievements of the Scientific Revolution47
Chapter 3Taxonomic Intoxication, Part I: Visualizing the Invisible77
Chapter 4Taxonomic Intoxication, Part II: In Search of the Engine Room114
Chapter 5Exhibiting Evolution: Diversity, Order, and the Construction of Nature154
Chapter 6Evolution and the Roulette Wheel: A Chance Cosmos Rattles Some Bones202
Chapter 7Drama in Diorama: The Confederation of Art and Science240
Notes and Further Reading277
Index289

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