19 December 2018

19. Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Website: http://beatymuseum.ubc.ca/
The Collections & The Exhibits: I've been presenting exhibits and collections separately this far, but it's impossible to do so at the University of British Columbia's Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Many museums have (correctly, I think) embraced the idea of showcasing how scientists actually work, and none has done so more completely than the BBM. That's because the museum's exhibits are, quite literally, the collections vault, with some storage cabinets containing built-in display cases. I've travelled to the museum for research twice, once to look at North American carnivores and once to look at marsupials. In both cases, I really enjoyed working in full view of the public and being able to interact and talk about my research with them. While most of the museum is underground, the main atrium of the building contains a massive blue whale skeleton that, thanks to an all-glass outer wall, appears to be "swimming" along UBC's main pedestrian mall. Cross this mall, incidentally, and you'll find the Pacific Museum of Earth, which contains a very nice Lambeosaurus skeleton from Alberta and a handful of other fossils. Also, by all means give yourself a chance to stroll around the campus, one of the most beautifully situated you'll ever see. In particular, make time for the UBC Museum of Anthropology, widely agreed to be one of the world's great museums.

18 December 2018

18. Museum of the Rockies

Location: Bozeman, Montana
Website: https://www.museumoftherockies.org/
The Collections: What brings a mammal researcher to a collection internationally famous for its dinosaur skeletons? Well, in my case it was a single (gorgeously preserved) fossil dog skull (and the fact that I was passing through between collections visits in Missoula and Pocatello. Let the record reflect that it's a really nice dog skull and made the stop entirely worthwhile.
The Exhibits: As hinted at above, while the Inland Northwest is known for its Cenozoic mammal fossils, the flanks of the Rockies are rife with dinosaur fossils. Fittingly, the MOR is one of the word's great dinosaur museums. The particular focus is on Cretaceous specimens from the Hell Creek Formation, including favorites such as Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, and a diversity of duck-billed dinosaurs. I am an especially big fan of the displays on dinosaur growth and physiology, long a specialty of MOR researchers. If towering dinosaurs aren't your thing, the museum also has a really cool display on the microvertebrates of Hell Creek and some excellent dioramas and fossils that bring to life the rocks that now form the peaks of the Rockies.