Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Off on an Adventure

Hi everyone. Today's journey takes you to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the US to Harvard University. Monday I took 16 of my students on a little journey there to visit their Natural History Museum. It is one of my favorite museums, and if you like nature and even nature art, and you are ever in the Boston area, I highly recommend the visit.
The museum has been around for many years, and it has that old kind of feel to it. Harvard has redone much of it, but it is still wonderful. I love the old feel.
They have many taxidermied animals.

Some fossilized skeletons.
 This is a ferocious giant sloth and below is the gorilla. I wouldn't want to run into either of them.
This awesome fish called the coelocanth which is a missing between fish and land animals.  If you look closely at its fins, they are little legs with fins on the end. (Sorry, their specimen is in a golden colored liquid to preserve it. It doesn't help the photo at all though). In 1938 one was caught off the Comoro Islands near Africa, and this animal that they thought was extinct and only knew about in fossils was actually found. 
They also have lots of beautiful insects on display too.

I think the most exciting thing is the glass flowers though. These are amazing and don't look like glass at all. In fact, when you look at them you think they are real, freshly picked and put in the old cases. They were made by a father and son team, Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka , of Germany between 1866 and  1938. When the son died the art went with him. Although the Blaschkas made glass models of marine life for general sale, the flowers were commissioned especially for Harvard and I believe this is the only place you can see them.
There are a lot, like 40,000, and I am not sure all are on display, but here's a sampling of photos I took.

The white dots below are light reflections on the glass of the cases, not holes in the glass.

Some of my kids and I had a big chat around the glass bananas and their flowers. We had talked about how our present bananas, the Cavendish variety, is being slowly wiped out by a fungus. The age of this means these are not Cavendish, but the form that went extinct in the 1960's called the Gross Michel.  The kids saw this before me and called me over. I love it when they actually have a real connection between the world and what we do in class.

This team also made some glass sea animals before they were contracted to do the flowers.

Of course this is only a small sampling of the museum. I took a bunch of other photos but I think you can get the gist.
Hope enjoyed your virtual museum trip. :)


Blogoratti said...

It certainly looks like a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for sharing the lovely photos. Greetings!

froebelsternchen Susi said...

Oh my gosh.. so exciting!Fantastic photos ! Thank you for sharing!
I googled the Blaschkas because I was interested in their name - as my greatfather's father was named Blaschka as well - that must be a Czech name I thought and they really came from Czechia initial I found out -there was a great glass art always there in the past and than I found such super videos about their art at you tube!
Can spend hours watching this delicate creation out of glas!
Happy rest of the day Erika!!!

Valerie-Jael said...

What lovely photos, it looks like a great place to visit, wish I had been there, too. We have a small natural history museum in an old cloister not far from here, also full of stuffed animals and lots of insects. Glad you enjoyed your trip! Hugs, Valerie

~*~Patty S said...

WOWEE Fabulous Erika.
Wonderful photos ...
those beetles and butterflies oh my!
AND if you hadn't said all of those treasures were made of glass...well one would never guess.
The artistry and detail blows my mind.
All quite extraordinary for sure.
Bet your kids had a fun day outside the classroom learning when they almost don't realize they are :-)

Meggymay said...

Awesome photos, what a wonderful place to spend a few hours looking around.
Yvonne xx

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

This was even more impressive than I imagined. I remember reading about the museum have a huge ornithology collection, and that included both stuffed birds (and eggs) as well as painted prints.

I have to agree that the flowers are stunning. I'm so glad you took as many photos of them as you did. They are truly incredible.

Thanks for taking us with you to this museum. I bet those teens were in awe as much as I was!

Divers and Sundry said...

What a treat! I enjoyed the tour :) I love natural history museums whether they focus on local or regional displays or have a wider range like the one you toured. Thanks!

Jeanie said...

What a fascinating spot! You got some fabulous photos -- those animals and plants are magnificent! How nice that you can take your kids to such a respected place! Did they all behave?!