The Field Museum (online)

suetrexThe Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (let’s pretend I picked a Chicago location intentionally to match up with the AAAS meeting that just took place there) is one of the largest natural history museums in the world, with 25 million objects in their collection. If you happen to be in Chicago, you can visit the museum in person, but if you can’t – don’t worry. The Field Museum has an extremely interactive online presence.

Here’s a little virtual tour:

The main museum website has a multimedia gallery and resources about different exhibits. They’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – and a few other social media outlets. Lots of natural history museums have something like that, so this alone is not yet that special. The Field Museum has much more, though!

One of their exhibits has gained her own personality: SUE the T. rex is the most complete and best preserved T. rex skeleton so far discovered, and she stands in the museum’s main hall. But she’s also on Twitter and Facebook where she interacts directly with her many fans. During the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, SUE tweeted about Field Museum objects from the different participating countries.

And finally, in a genius social media move, the Field Museum recently hired Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop to work fulltime in the museum as Chief Curiosity Correspondent. The Brain Scoop YouTube series, which started in the small zoological collection of the University of Montana, now broadcasts regularly from The Field Museum. The main themes are animal dissection and preparation, but in her new location, Emily, who has a background in fine art and in museum studies, is branching out into the Field Museum’s many non-animal collections. But the best episodes are still the taxidermy ones.

Here Emily highlights the life of Carl Akeley, who created the Four Seasons diorama at the Field Museum.

More classic Brain Scoop style (and with “grossometer”) is this zebra preparation, also at the Field Museum. The weird comes out in the first few seconds, so be warned: there is dead and blood and gore and silliness.

These looks behind the scenes take online viewers to parts of the museum that you can’t even see when you visit in person. They don’t replace the experience of going there, but they’re a source of additional information for both visitors and those that can’t visit.

Photo of SUE by Connie Ma on Flickr.

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