Get Real in Unshelved

Once, while walking around the Museum, I saw a young boy about four years old looking at one of our exhibits of a marine mammal skeleton. Shortly after taking a gander at the specimen, he turned to his dad and asked, “Is that real, Daddy?” Young kids have a way of cutting to the chase, don’t they? Yes, they have a million questions about this new world that they are learning about, but “is it real?” is one of the first and foremost. And here’s the deal: at The Nat, we specialize in real. Real bones, real minerals, real butterflies, real birds, real bugs and snakes and spiders and everything in between.

When you venture into Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage, our exhibition featuring hundreds of specimens pulled from our permanent research collections and storage, you happen into the dazzling world of real in nature. Here in one place you can see firsthand the extraordinary box of crayons that Mother Nature employs. Check out the iridescent green of a jeweled beetle, the sparkling rich purple of a gigantic amethyst crystal formation, the brilliance of the lemony yellow of a scallop shell, the electric chartreuse of the Military Macaw feathers—all within one room and all as real as real can be.

If you are an artist, or aspiring to be one, or just want your color/texture/design fix for the day, come in for a visit. Bring your sketchbook and colored pencils, or whatever medium you like—or just bring your own precious eyes, that we all take for granted—and be inspired.

As you look at the objects on display, keep one shocking fact in mind, these are all objects as found in nature. They have not been PhotoShopped, enhanced, glamourized, colorized, or in any other way tampered with. Amazing, isn’t it? So often today we are presented with images that are altered, no matter how cleverly, that we must constantly be alert to determining the authenticity of what we see. But with all our technological whiz-bang know-how, we as human beings can never outdo Mother Nature when it comes to the outrageous display of colors, forms, designs, and details found in natural objects. The joy of Unshelved is that in one space we can see it all, and never wonder whether or not we are having a truly authentic experience. So come in, and get real!

Posted by Director of the Research Library Margaret Dykens.

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