Recent posts on the Musings have drawn heavily from my long overdue first visit to this place, so it’s high time I got on and added a review. It is, in short, superb, and well worth several hours of almost anyone’s time. The most notable feature is the way in which so much material and (importantly) information is crammed into such a space. As with many such places and my reviews of them, I really cannot cover the breadth or depth of the place so a brief overview of some key points and then some pretty pictures will have to suffice.
The museum is really built around a single open-plan room with all the exhibits stuffed into it without any real barriers. Thus one can step around a case of theropods to discover mammals are held on the back, or take a look at a pickled squid and realize that through the glass one can see a baby elephant skeleton. If I had one criticism of the museum it would be that in places it is a bit too packed. Some excellent specimens are not easy to see as they are hidden behind or between other specimens or are stuffed into a cabinet that has large wooden beams across it that covers things you want to see. This is not much more than a nit-pick though, I’m always grateful to see lots of things on display.
Those displays are good – well lit, clearly labeled, well laid out (where space permits) and with lots of ancillary information and cross-referencing. It’s the kind of thing I long to see in many museums and don’t. There’s lots of detail if you want to read it, but getting the base essentials (this is a rare insect, this is a toe bone of a dinosaur) takes seconds.
The museum is rather light on plants and fungi, and less unusually, is light on bacteria, algae, and the smaller beasties of the planet. At the risk of annoying many colleagues and readers, most of the public do prefer things like dinosaurs and mammals so it’s no surprise they are favoured. Still, if you do like the ‘lesser’ things, expect to be disappointed.
The museum does cover insects and inverts well, has a large collection of dinosaurs (including lots of locally collected material), a great set of mammal skeletons, various stuffed birds, and various other bits and bobs. There are some real gems to find too like the tuna skeleton, some live insects, classic artworks and more.
Despite the small size there is a ton of stuff here and it obviously has high repeat-visit values even to someone who (Like me) has seen a great many museums and a huge number of galleries and exhibits. There is lots to see and despite the scale of the place there were several small but new, temporary exhibits meaning that things keep turning over there offering further re-visit value. If you can, go. You won’t regret it.