One thing on display at the Carnegie was something I’d never seen before – a complete quarry map for a major dinosaurian bone bed that yielded numerous fossils. Here they all were, catalogued, labelled, and colour coded, and with reconstructions of the animals (at the time) put below. This was part of much wider series of signs about the history of excavation of the Morrison and recovery of dinosaur material (including those in the exhibition halls below – this is on a balcony overlooking the Jurassic section) which couldn’t really be photographed becasue of the layout. Still, it was very good (as far as I could tell, I didn’t have time to read it all sadly, but what I saw was detailed, interesting, well written and well illustrated) and it was nice to see a sign with real detail – this is something, if you had the time and motivation, you could read for probably 20 minutes and learn a great deal, and it’s nice that you *can* do that, even if few people ever will (though i appreciate it’s position is near perfect, out of the way enough that several people really reading the whole thing won’t obstruct the crowds where it would in other places).
It is, of course, also nice to put a historical spin on things, though again the Carnegie collection has rather more history than many collections thus in part perhaps why this works so well here. It’s easy for us to focus on the science when it comes to science in a science museum (and you can see why!) but there are other aspects to our field like history. It’s worth remembering that other people may be interested in things like this, and it can be a window to drawn them into the subject and get them more interested and involved when otherwise they might not.