Saturday, 28 February 2015

The rules for making a national museum in Canada.

Rule 1: Hire an expensive, internationally renowned architect to create a jarring, distinct, and ostentatious design to please architectural critics and hopefully win a prize.

Rule 2: for the love of God make sure you have a large grand hall that you can rent out to wedding groups and for diplomatic occasions. Remember just because you’re subsidized by 35 million people doesn't mean you can afford to get cheap.

Rule 3: have a grand entrance to allow the people bask in the glory of the design. Don't worry about putting anything really at all in the grand entrance, the aforementioned superiority of the architectural design will pummel the visitors submission.

Rule 4: This is really important, don't forget to include the actual exhibits in your museum. The public will spend exorbitant amounts of money to get into your museum, even though you’re a public institutions, so they will expect to learn a thing or two. Make sure to keep it as impressionistic as possible. Remember taxpayers aren't paying for specific facts.

Rule five: Be sure to refer to your national museum as  world class at every available opportunity.  If you don't, people might realize, I mean, er, suspect that your full shit.

Review:  When looking at the floor plan of the museum, if exhibits are a clump in the middle of everything else, instead of everything else a clump middle of the exhibits, you know you've done a good job. They only complain because they're jealous.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Up and Down

Above: The Atlas 5A rocket being installed outside the Canada Science and Technology Museum in 1973.

Below: The same rocket being taken down, yesterday.

Credit for both photos belongs to the Lost Ottawa Facebook community.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Dioramas in Milan

Photo from here.

My family lived in Italy for a year when I was ten, and I used to love visiting the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale in Milan. One of the highlights is their terrific collection of nature dioramas, made by Valter Fogato and others.

Having grown up in Ottawa, I was used to dioramas of Canadian wildlife, but Milan had dioramas of creatures from all over the world.

I didn't take any pictures of the dioramas myself, but I've been able to find a bunch here and there on the web.

Photo from here.

You don't often see dioramas of animals running. Perhaps this is because one's first instinct would be to say that they wouldn't fit -- they need space to run around in. But of course, at any particular instant in its run cycle, the animal doesn't take up any more room than it does when it's standing still. The running poses add real dynamism to this diorama of two guanacos.

Photo from here.

I wish I had a better picture of this diorama of an aardvark attacking a termite mound (there's apparently an aardworf in the diorama as well). It takes place at night, which looks really neat; you don't often see that in dioramas either.

Photo from here.

I don't actually remember this diorama of barbary sheep and addax, but  I came across it while looking for pictures to use in this article. I love how they've incorporated a replica of Saharan giraffe rock art; it's a subtle reminder of human presence.

Photo from here.

This diorama of grizzly bears catching salmon does a great job of conveying a frenzy of activity.

Photo from here.

Many of the dioramas have two different species in them, like this one of a muskox and a caribou. This not only saves space, since one diorama can stand for two animals, but also gives the opportunity to depict interspecific behaviour.

Finally, here are a bunch more that I like, but don't have anything clever to say about:

Siberian tiger and sika deer. Photo from here.

Emu. Photo from here.

Narwhals and walrus. Photo from here.

Yak. Photo from here.

Bactrian camel. Photo from here.