Sunday, December 30, 2012

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

My parents and grandpa came for a visit the first weekend I was in Pittsburgh. I wasn't sure what we should do around the city since my grandpa just had a knee replacement and can't walk too far. We decided to head to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History after lunch at the Porch. I had heard great things about the museum and you actually get admission to both the natural history and the art museum with your ticket.

We visited the Natural History Museum part first. In the Architecture Hall there was a beautiful presepio from the 1700's on display. These were handcrafted by artisans from Italy with amazing attention to detail!

In a room just off to the side of this hall was a large collection of miniatures. Talk about attention to detail, these were amazing. Just look at those beautiful little chairs and candelabras.

Next up was the hall of geology. This had some really interesting facts about Pennsylvanian and more specifically Pittsburgh-area geology. According to one of the signs and displays in this room, Pennsylvania was at one time (300 million years ago, to be exact) located at the equator and a tropical forest. The trees would die and fall into the swamp and eventually became the coal that is under the ground in a large portion of Pennsylvania. My family were coal miners in the Scranton area, you think I'd know more about this stuff!

Just outside the doors of the geology room was the Paleolab. This was a working laboratory that analyzed fossils. Pretty neat.

Next up was the gemstone room. This was incredible. There were thousands of gemstones and rocks from all over the world here. We were having a great time checking out the composition of the different stones. We were so fascinated by some of them, how they could be so hairy or grow in a certain formation. I actually worked in a crystallography lab for a few years out of college and some of the stones reminded me of what I would see growing in our plates. It's totally amazing how molecules come together to form a crystal.

Adam was particularly in love with the one that shared his name, Adamite. He thought it was the prettiest of all the stones.

After the gemstone room was the hall with all the dinosaur fossils. It was an enormous room, but I guess it has to be to hold these giants.

One of the T-rexes here is actually the real deal - it's the holotype for all other T-rexes. According to the sign in front, it was purchased by the Carnegie Natural History Museum in 1941.

Finally, we walked through a room with fossils from animals that lived in Ice Age. There were actually so many skeletons in this room that resembled animal species we have on earth today. The photo on the left shows an American mastadon and the one on the right shows an Irish elk.

Behind these skeletons was a bug display. This thing really amused me. I was totally fascinated by all the colorful bugs that were pinned in the display cases.

So that wraps up our trip to the Museum of Natural History. We missed a few of the rooms, but I'm sure we'll get back there some day! Definitely worth a trip if you're visiting Pittsburgh.

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