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My Visit to the American Museum of Natural History Essay

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The three Halls that I visited at the American Museum of Natural History were: Halls of the Pacific Peoples, Northwest Coast Indians and Asian peoples. All of these Halls were distinctly different from each other, although I enjoyed viewing all three, my favorite Hall was that of Asian Peoples. Of special interest was the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, since I was able to witness and play in my head, a reel of the transformations it has gone through since the time of Franz Boas, as described in an article “A Magic Place”. Reading the article beforehand helped make me aware of the changes that were made to the exhibit since the time of Franz Boas, while I was exploring the Northwest Coast Hall.
The article, “A Magic Place” provides a very descriptive analysis of the changes made to the Hall by Boas and why he made certain alterations. The Hall before Boas was distinctly different, in part due to its arrangement as a department store. Similar items were grouped together on shelves of glass, and many of the artifacts were grouped by collector. This arrangement went through drastic changes during Boas reign from 1845-1905. Boas had a preference for life groups and dioramas which depicted the people of the culture performing daily activities. Boas was first commissioned to collect materials for the display of a life group, later he commissioned a set of objects made of cedar bark for a display depicting women using these cedar barks and other crafts so that the scene could be photographed. One of boas’ greatest achievements was directing the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Boas made considerable changes to the arrangement of the Hall. He shifted the arrangements so that it was in a tribal order, with a general synopsis...

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...of each Hall and how that adds to the overall atmosphere each Hall is trying to depict. It was a bit tricky navigating through the museum. The website on AMNH was informative about each Hall and gave a very brief overview of each Halls importance and general purpose. I felt that the website left you wanting to go to the museum yourself and see the Halls since limited information was offered on each that left you craving for more. The website was helpful in planning what floors to visit to view each Hall, but once in the museum you realize that it’s a bit trickier to get around. Nonetheless, deciphering my way through the museum added to the feel that I was going on an adventure through each region of the world and each culture, the Halls were each distinct in their style and presentation of their respective cultures, which kept the tour all the more exciting.

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