Woolly Mammoth Skeleton at American Museum of Natural History
I spent an insurmountable amount of time when I was a little kid staring into a postcard of a woolly mammoth skeleton. The card was postmarked sometime in the 1950s, and some guy wrote an incredibly general message to another guy upon the back of it. What was significant about the card – that which made me dream into it so often – was that it said that the woolly mammoth skeleton was at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
But New York City was much too far out of bounds for my parents, who are people who like keeping within proximity to home.
So I grew up with the woolly mammoth skeleton postcard ever stuffed inside of my student’s work desk in my childhood room. Sometimes I would take it out and dream into it a little. I wanted to be a paleontologist or and archaeologist or some kind of ologist. I wanted to work for a museum. I wanted to dig in the dirt and find bones.
So I grew up and became an archaeologist. I dug in the dirt and I found bones.
But I had still not visited that woolly mammoth on the postcard.
When I came to New York City in September, this was one of my goals: to go and look at that damn skeleton. But I waited, I waited until I had completed everything that I had to do, I waited until I graduated. I wanted this visit back into my childhood to be the apple pie of my stay in New York City, the hallmark to this stay in the USA.
The day of the grand viewing of the woolly mammoth skeleton was today. I had finished my university coursework yesterday. I am now finished with New York City – ready to move on.
I like big museums. Walking through them is like traveling the world in microcosm, like traveling through time in microcosm. When I walk through museums I am in another world.
My friend commented on my stumbly way of walking through museums today:
“I would like to believe that you take more responsibility for yourself when you are not around me, but I see no evidence for it,” she said.
She was referring to the fact that I had walked aimlessly into some no-man’s-land in an off corner of the museum some where.
“Sorry, babes, but I am just dreaming.”
I love museums because they are like a house of travel: you walk from one hall – one part of the world – right into another. I walked out of the Hall of African Peoples that the anthropologist Colin Turnbull designed into a corridor. I looked to the right to find the Hall of Mexico and Central America and to the left to find the Hall of Asian Peoples. I then had to choose where I wanted to travel.
I chose the Hall of Asian Peoples.
Links to previous travelogue entries:
Photography Lesson in New York City
Time to Leave New York City
Travel Book Reviews on Vagabond Journey