Something to be said for natural history museums
Gary D. Rosenberg, Renee M. Clary, 2018. "Something to be said for natural history museums", Museums at the Forefront of the History and Philosophy of Geology: History Made, History in the Making, Gary D. Rosenberg, Renee M. Clary, III
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MR. PEALE’S NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
There is no abstract.
Charles Willson Peale’s self-portrait, The Artist in His Museum (book cover; Fig. 1; Newcomb), represents a seminal period in the emergence of natural history museums. Peale (1741–1827) completed the painting in 1822 as the modern natural history museum began to take shape, first in Europe and then in the young American nation as an outcome of the liberalizing transformations of the Enlightenment in both Europe and America. Peale had founded his museum in 1784, the second natural history museum in America. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), where the painting now resides, recounts that Peale was an artist, naturalist, showman, promoter of American ideals, and dedicated to public education.
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Museums at the Forefront of the History and Philosophy of Geology: History Made, History in the Making
Natural history museums have evolved over the past 500 years to become vanguards of science literacy and thus institutions of democracy. Curiosity about nature and distant cultures has proven to be a powerful lure, and museums have progressively improved public engagement through increasingly immersive exhibits, participation in field expeditions, and research using museum holdings, all facilitated by new technology. Natural history museums have dispersed across the globe and demonstrated that public fascination with ancient life, vanished environments, exotic animals in remote habitats, cultural diversity, and our place in the cosmos is universal. This volume samples the story of museum development and illustrates that the historical successes of natural history museums have positioned them to be preeminent facilitators of science literacy well into the future.