Reflective Essay on American Museum of Natural History

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1493 Words
Date:  2022-09-12


The American museum of natural history is considered to be the largest natural history museum across the globe that has a rich history that explains the human evolution mainly through its education and display programs. In the American museum of natural history, there is a permanent hall known as the hall of human origin and the Planetarium that is specifically dedicated to educating the public about human evolution and the related disciplines. The museum hall has a radical design that starts by educating the public about the fossil record equal billing and molecular genetics. This was providing the museum visitors with an independent but highly complementary line of evidence about their own evolution. The other parts of the hall are considered to be innovative in that they tend to focus more on the taxonomic diversity in fossil records as well as the traditional story of human evolution that can be found in the museum exhibits (McLean & Fiona 56). The hall also tends to be unique in that it has an operational teaching laboratory with its architectural footprint, thus offering the country's educators the chance to integrate the hands-on lab sessions and other surrounding exhibits. The aim of this paper is to discuss what I found interesting during my visit in the hall of human origin and the planetarium

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The Display Skelton of a Chimpanzee, a Modern Human, and a Neanderthal

The fossil skeletons of the chimpanzee, the modern man and the Neanderthal man that I found interesting tends to introduce the concept of the deep times and also explains the evolution of first primates and apes approximately twenty million years ago. The skeleton display explains stratigraphy, global geological dating methods and the fossilization process. It also explains the human family tree framework, how the paleoanthropologists search for fossils and also showcase a short film explaining the existing science of fleshing out and the reconstructions of the extinct species. The display aims to equip the museum's visitors with a brief introduction of our extinct cousins that exist in the fossil records and offer a methodological review of how the scientist study the story of human origin. The display Skelton of a chimpanzee, a modern human, and a Neanderthal formed a crucial component of the exhibition since they were much enlightening on how species have continued to evolve from time to time. The fossils in the exhibition also try to enlighten us about the stages in behavioural and physical evolution. The chimpanzee, Neanderthal and the modern man explain the continuous improvement in physical appearance and behaviour. For instance, the three skeletons show how the current human posture changed from bent to the upright position (Falk et al. 65). While the behaviours changed from living in caves and using stones carvings to the present behaviour of living in houses and using modern farming tools.

The Fossil and Archaeological Evidence for Human Evolution

The display tries to explain the fossil records and also surrounds the viewers with reconstructions, specimens and information explaining the archaeological and fossil evidence of human evolution. The geographically and temporarily diverse specimen in the exhibitions sometimes tends to be hard to display appropriately. However, the traditional approach has always been to have a chronologically linear arrangement or sequence of cases. In such a case, the old specimen would be displayed first then the exhibits then the specimen of the modern human being. This method of arrangement tends to have a common strategy in the explanation and deception of human origin and can be noticed in films and television shows. The display on fossil and archaeological evidence of human evolution also tries to explain that humans have been able to overcome a number of trials. For example, humans have been able to discover fires throughout their entire evolution so that they can win the day and be in a position to become modern human. This section of the exhibition is also a good example of how educators and scientists interacted to create quality finished products. For example for certain fossil hominines there exist photographs of certain fleshed out reconstructions on the accompanying label decks. The reconstructions were created in the American museum of natural history utilizing the current forensic techniques and with the continuous interaction between the curatorial staff and the artists who created them.

The Original Piece of Palaeolithic Sculpture from Europe Heralds the Third Section of the Hall

This display is considered to be the smallest in the hall of human origin and tends to deal with the emergence of modern human and his subsequent dispersals from all over the planet. The display also highlights or indicates the occurrence of symbolic behaviour, and it is fronted by a real specimen of cave art from the museum collection. Considering that almost all specimens in the hall of human origin are either replicas or cast, this Sculpture specimen is considered to be the most powerful in the entire space since it is an original specimen from accent times. This section particularly focuses on how well we define the modern human and also explores various attributes such as art, tool use and language. The main idea was to assess the deferent themes in the art and identify whether the difference between human beings and other animals is absolute or similar. The intended message is considered to focus on things such as tool making. For instance, we usually know that chimpanzees can make certain complex tools; therefore, the capability between humans and the chimpanzees is blurred. The sculpture display also tries to indicate the evolution of message communication and display. In ancient times, the Neanderthal man kept his history using curving and drawing, unlike currently where human beings have adopted other means of keeping records. For distance, the horse art displayed in the sculpture was trying to convey a particular message during the accent times. The sculpture display also tries to reflect the change or evolution of human activities, for instance, in the ancient time's arts and curving formed a key part in human life, unlike how it is currently.

Sackler Educational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins

Sackler educational laboratory is considered to be the most dynamic and important component of the hall of human origin. With the Sackler laboratory, the halls visitors and students tend to have the ability to retain the immersive experiences of being surrounded by numerous shreds of evidence of human origin while engaging in other educational activities in the laboratory. The lab also helps to better integrate the main museum educational goals in relation to human evolution. The experts and educators can use the halls lab in a didactic or formal way to enable the students to answer any questions that they may have had during their tour in the hall of human origin (Rader et al. 23). On the other hand, the Sacklers lab usually enables the students and visitors to explore the issue of human origin further to enable them to identify any other key information that may be missing or may not have been highlighted in the other exhibitions in the halls. For instance, the visitors can use the microscopes provided in the lab to observe the provided specimens in details so that they do not miss ant key details that may help in understanding human evolution. The lab has immensely helped in expanding the existing knowledge and information on human evolution since people are able to come up with more concrete theories that better explain the evolution process. Through the assistance of the lab, the American museum of natural history, visitors have had the chance to research and underhand the DNA changes that occurred between the Neanderthal man and modern age man. This has been made possible by the microscopes that enable people to view the existing DNA strands.


Following my visit to the American museum of natural history, I noted that there are certain key theories that a person has to understand when creating human evolution displays. The visitors should be in a position to understand the time scale in which evolution occurred and should also be in a position to understand the geological dates. Throughout my visit to the exhibition, I was fascinated by various things that explained how human beings evolved. This includes, first, the Sackler Educational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins. Secondly, the original piece of Palaeolithic sculpture from Europe heralds the third section of the hall. Thirdly, the fossil and archaeological evidence for human evolution. This displays helped me to understand certain key features that played a key role in human evolution.

Works Cited

Falk, John H., and Lynn D. Dierking. The museum experience. Routledge, 2016.

McLean, Fiona. Marketing the museum. Routledge, 2012.

Rader, Karen A., and Victoria EM Cain. "From natural history to science: display and the transformation of American museums of science and nature." museum and society 6.2 (2008): 152-171. Retrieved from

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Reflective Essay on American Museum of Natural History. (2022, Sep 12). Retrieved from

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