July 7th -8th
I think I’ve spent the last couple days at Harvard’s Natural Museum of History in just about every department that they have! Now I really understand what people mean when they say that when you go to a museum, you are only ever seeing about 10% of what is actually there. Museums are like, enormous libraries. Except, it’s not always books that they have available; it’s specimens and lab space, and projects, and pictures, and just about anything else that you can think of! And, Harvard’s museum is no exception. I spent most of my time in the invertebrate zoology department, but I got to tour around in the mammals, ornithology (birds), herpetology (amphibians and reptiles), ichthyology (fish), and malacology (mollusks) divisions. All of their collections are enormous, extremely impressive, and contain many, or most of the original holotypes! A holotype is the specimen that a species was described from..so, in layman’s terms, the critter that was discovered and described as the first of a “new species.” The museum has scientists from all over the world come and look at, or ask for loans of their specimens to perform studies on. I couldn’t believe how much of a working library the museum really was, and I definitely have a new appreciation for them.
Besides spending a lot of time learning about the museum and helping with various cataloging projects, I also got to spend some of my time this week with George Buckley, and one of the past Scalli Interns, Kate Douglas (1st Scalli Intern). George is a professor at Harvard and one of the board members of the Boston Sea Rovers. He was actually one of the people that interviewed me when I was in the application process for the internship. So, it was really great to be able to spend some time with him. He took me to visit the Scientific Instruments area, which is kind of a mini museum of old scientific devices like radios and instruments used in astrology and navigation. It’s pretty amazing to see the kinds of things that humans can invent when they put their minds to it. After that, George took me to lunch at Harvard’s historic Annenberg Hall. I never would have guessed that the big church-like building was actually a cafeteria. When I walked in I felt like I had just entered into the dining hall at Hogwarts. All of the tables were packed with students taking summer classes, so the place was alive with activity. It was fantastic, and we had a really good chat and lunch.
After lunch I headed back into the museum for a few more hours, then I met with Kate Douglas in Harvard Square to spend some time catching up. Then we both made our way to Brattle Street where we got to attend George’s lecture on Environmental Management. We both really enjoyed it, and I added a few more books to my reading list!
I’ve had a wonderful time exploring Harvard and learning some of the secrets to their museum, and, who knows..maybe I’ll be back one day to do some research of my own! J