Shelf Life – A great project at the American Museum of Natural History

I am a geek, and proudly so, and as such I have been known to visit exhibitions at the excellent Natural History Museum and the Science Museum in London, the Field Museum in Chicago, or indeed the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). As a matter of fact, in August I did go to the AMNH and had a great time. I particularly enjoyed the Hayden Planetarium, part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, with its iconic glass cube encasing the spherical Space Theater.

I am always in awe at the enormous number of items in the collections of these museums, cataloguing human knowledge, from taxonomy and evolution to geology and astrophysics. I was thus really intrigued when Roberto Moncada, from the AMHN sent some information about the most recent project at the museum: Shelf Life.

The AMHN has a collection with over 33 million specimens an artefacts. As it is usually the case, some of these items tell us a story about the state of knowledge at different points in human history and they range from the rare and irreplaceable to the amazing and precious. In the Shelf Life project, the museum keeps at heart its mission to share their collections and educate the public about the work that they do with the help of videos released monthly over the next year. In Episode 1, they take us inside the museum collections: “from centuries-old specimens to entirely new types of specialized collections like frozen tissues and genomic data”. Episode 2 they talk to us about the art of the science of classification, taxonomy, and they way in which 33 million (plus) items get organised in the collection of the museum. Go, have a look at their shelves, you will surely find something of interest among those 33 million items!

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