Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dinosaur Bones

by Annette Dashofy

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, our grade school took my class on a field trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. In hindsight, they must have been insane, setting a bunch of prepubescent country kids loose in the city. At the time, it was one of the best days of my young life. I’d never been to the museum before.

My best friend and I wandered the massive structure in search of one display in particular.


But we couldn’t find them.

I remember stopping at the museum gift shop to ask if they had dinosaur bones. The sales clerk thought we meant for sale and said no.

What? A museum with no dinosaur bones?

I don’t remember how, but we did eventually find the dinosaur exhibit.

I’ve been to that museum many times since then. We make a yearly winter pilgrimage into the Oakland area of Pittsburgh for our annual visit. Why winter? We have summer activities (biking, horseback riding, outdoor activities in general). But in the winter, we move to indoor activities. Like museum hopping.

My first stop is almost always the dinosaur exhibits to see the dinosaur bones.

The Carnegie recently revamped the dinosaur exhibit. Somehow, they determined they had some of the beasts standing upright that should have been on all fours. Or visa versa. I don’t know or care. They’re all damned scary regardless of their stance. This was my first visit since the exhibit re-opened. Here are a few of the dinosaur bones we saw.

With my love of dinosaur bones, you may find it surprising that I’ve never seen the movie Jurassic Park or even read the book. Why? The bones scare me enough! I don’t really want to experience that time period or any of the creatures from it with flesh covering those skeletons.

No thanks.

So do you love dinosaurs? If so, how far back can you trace that passion? I remember having a plastic brontosaurus bank courtesy of our local Sinclair gas station. Now Sinclair has gone the way of their mascot. Except the oil company doesn’t have an exhibit in the Carnegie Museum.

If you don’t particularly care for dinosaurs and their bones, do you enjoy hanging out in museums? Which exhibits do you make a beeline for?


Anonymous said...

Bones creep me out, but I've always been fascinated by dinosaurs -- so big, and yet so dead.

Annette said...

Very big. Very dead.

Standing there looking up at those beasts made me feel like a bug.

And it doesn't show up well in the photos, but their TAILS are EXTREMELY long. I was awestruck.

Anonymous said...

I saw Jurassic Park (the first one.) I was rooting for the dinosaurs, which were much more appealing to me than the human beings portrayed in the film.

Joyce Tremel said...

Tory, I'm with you. Most of the humans in that movie were either too nasty to live or too stupid to live. And Jeff Goldblum just plain annoys me.

I love museums. The History Center in Pittsburgh is another great place to visit. And everyone needs to visit the Smithsonian sometime during their lives. It takes days to go through all their buildings.

Anyone interested in the Civil War should visit Pamplin Park in Petersburg, VA. It's an interactive museum. You get a CD player and headphone set and get to pick a soldier to follow through the war. You don't find out his fate until you reach the last exhibit. It's cool.

Annette said...

The John Heinz History Center is another of my favorites, too, Joyce. I've been there so often, I could probably lead tours.

However, I have never been to the Smithsonian. It's long been on my list of places I want to go.

You all are confirming my reasons for never having see Jurassic Park.

Anonymous said...

Annette -
See Jurassic Park. The special effects are worth it -- the dinosaurs are so realistic that you find yourself wondering, "How did they get those dinosaurs to do that?"

Dana King said...

I'm a dinosaur guy. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my uncle taking me to Carnegie Muesum to see the fossils on a Saturday morning, then walking over to catch a Pirates game at Forbes Field. (Which gives an idea of how old I am.)

Jenna said...

I've never been particularly taken with dinosaurs myself, but I have two boys, and of course they've gone through periods of being dinosaur-crazy. We don't have a natural history museum where we live, so they've never seen actual dino bones. We were thrilled about the Pittsburgh dinosaurs, until we got there and discovered that the museum was closed. Must have been while they were revamping the exhibit, I guess. Two years ago in April. So we never did get to see them. The pictures are cool, though. Thanks for sharing!

Annette said...

Jennie, it's too bad you missed the exhibit. I imagine your boys would be awestruck by it.

Dana, I was thinking about Forbes Field on the drive to the museum. It's hard to picture where it was. Oakland has changed quite a bit since those days. At least in spots. I love the mix of old and new in that neighborhood.

And, Gina, you gave me enough movies to add to my to-watch list at your talk on Monday. I just don't know that Jurassic Park is going to make the list.

Anonymous said...

While not a dino fan myself, my daughters were all three fascinated by them. The only ones we've seen in museums, though, were in NYC and at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Did you know that the Smithsonian is actually many museums? It encompasses the National Gallery, and the Air & Space Museum, and a bunch of others. My favorite galleries at the History Museum were the First Ladies' inaugural gowns (another to be added soon!), the Hope diamond and other spectacular gems, and the original flag, which the museum is in the process of restoring in a room with glass walls through which visitors can watch.

Annette, I have to share my news with you--I was just accepted in a Citizen Police Academy that begins a week from today! I'm so excited, and wanted to thank you again for the idea.

Karen in Ohio

Annette said...

Karen, that's fabulous news! You'll have sooo much fun.

Pittsburgh is starting another Citizens Police Academy in a few weeks, too.

I'm just sayin'...

Joyce Tremel said...

You can see the home plate from Forbes Field inside Hillman Library. And the old outfield wall is still right where it always was.

Congrats Karen! You'll have a blast! Although we hope not literally...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, too, Joyce. My major in college had to do with police science, and although that was a long time ago, it still holds deep interest for me, so I'm very excited about it.

I also want to start going to the range and re-acquainting myself with firearms. We now have a rural property and there are always guns around in hunting season. It makes sense to know something about them, just in case.

The Smithsonian museum with the jewels is the American History Museum, by the way. It made history come alive for me in a way that nothing else did.

Karen in Ohio

Anonymous said...

Great blog!

Sorry I've missed the last couple of weeks - I have to go back and catch up.

LOVE the dinosaur exhibit at the Carnegie - they even have a big bronze one outside the museum - these days, he's wearing a Steeler Scarf.

Can't watch Jurassic Park - that scene where the boy is trapped in the room with the nasties freaks me out.


Anonymous said...

I was curious about how many museums are under the Smithsonian umbrella, and was not prepared for how many there are, including an upcoming (and timely) African American History Museum. Go to this page and look down the right side for the rest of their (all free) institutions:

I'd forgotten that the National Zoo was part of this estimable organization. Aren't we fortunate?

Kathleen said...

Nice post about the dinos. It is a great exhibit. My favorite part though isn't the dinosaurs - it is a wall of fossils. It includes fish, ferns, jellyfish, etc. They are all an off-white, cream color and I think it is very spirtual.

If anyone wants to stand on the homeplate of Forbes Field it is very easy to find. Walk across the park (former parking lot) from the museum & library, toward Hillman Library. To the left of the library is Forbes Quad. Walk into the builing, pass the elevators and you will find the holy homeplate under glass.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I love dinosaurs. Always have. Jurrasic Park is one of my favorite Crichton books. It inspired my own book, A Reason For Dying. Has a dinosaur inference to it.

The last museum I was in was in Wuhan China. Wu Chang actually which is home to a large number of Universities. They had a fantastic display.

I love the Smithsonian.

Annette said...

Kathleen, I think the one time I've been to home plate, YOU were the one who took me there!

Anonymous said...

I love museums too. The creepiest museum I was ever in was the criminal museum in Rothenburg, Germany. It's a medieval museum in a medieval town. Think torture devices and stretching instruments (I don't mean yoga here). I have a photo somewhere of me in the stocks.
And then there was a museum in Berlin that had a guillotine in the archway between two rooms. I refused to go through there...

Annette said...

Ick! Doris, I don't blame you! I'd be worried that with my luck, whatever was keeping the blade from falling would fail just as I crossed that threshold!

Dana King said...

I was just at Forbes Field in November, during a recruiting visit to Pitt with my daughter.

Home plate is in the Posvar Library, main floor. The line of bricks were the left field wall was start on the sidewalk on the west side of Schenley Drive, first block south of Forbes Avenue. There's a plaque to show where Mazeroski's home run cleared the wall to win the 1960 World Series.

Follow the line of bricks across Clemente Drive and you come to about a fifty foot section of the original center field wall, still in place. Very cool for someone, like me, who remembers Bob Prince calling games and went to The House of Thrills for his first major league baseball game.

Annette said...

Dana, I never saw a game at Forbes Field (or Three Rivers Stadium for that matter), but I definitely remember Bob Prince. Kiss it good-bye!