Email this review


This hit-or-miss montage on natural history museums begins with a desultory string of anecdotes about past expeditions, proceeds to the routines of collecting various kinds of specimens, and ends with some of the procedures involved in setting up an exhibit. The photographs are as off-target as most of the text: many feature anonymous employees, as in the shot of an excavation site that shows several men in shirtsleeves standing around a hole in the ground; but in the untidy picture of the American Museum's big whale being hoisted into position, where human figures would be useful for size comparison, there are no people in sight. Facts are of the gee-whiz variety (the 'incredible' number of insect species, the number of employees required for a certain operation) or random stabs at human interest (the only known specimens of a certain bird species were found by a cat; the American Museum supplied rare bird-of-paradise plumes for the King of Nepal's coronation). More businesslike is the step-by-step survey of exhibit preparation, but relevant sections in the Katz's Museum Adventures (1969) or Alvin Schwartz's Museum (1967) are more informing all around.

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1971
Publisher: Criterion