Finally, a post it makes sense to use my Camera Bag (non iPhone) app on!
“The James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History was established in 1872 to collect, preserve, and interpret Minnesota’s diverse animal and plant life for scholarly research and for public enrichment and enjoyment. Its governance belongs, by state legislative designation, to the University of Minnesota.”
I don’t know why it took me decades to ever visit the Bell. It’s the closest thing to a public school field trip circa 1949 that a retro-minded modern man can do with his afternoon.
And back in college that grungy-glam, diorama-set Sheryl Crow video was (and still is) one of my favorites.
From its elevator, to its radial-edged wooden walls, to its apparent lack of air conditioning, the core of the museum looks and feels exactly how it did seventy years ago, I bet.
Unfortunately, right after my visit I learned that, just like most things too old and amazing to still be standing today, the original Bell is set to be updated.
“The Bell Museum of Natural History is in the process of developing a larger facility to house their thousands of specimen and to aid in research. The new location and building will be on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota and will better able to serve the many people and tour groups that visit the museum each year. Additions to be made to the museum will include an outdoor teaching facility, accessible parking and food service for visitors. The estimated cost of the new facility and moving is near $36 million.”
I respect that, to fully serve and instruct its visitors properly, the Bell needs to grow and evolve.
But I just know the new space won’t have strong and sturdy elevators, or polished and pretty wood walls as handsomely hand-crafted as the original.
If there’s one thing our world knows how to do in 2010, its design an ugly University building. (Or any building, it seems.)
Maybe beauty will get lucky and the original Bell will stand as is, once the new facility opens. As less a museum honoring the beauty of elks and pelicans, but of paneling and hand rails.
In less grumbly news, check this out. It almost instantly restores some of my faith in Minneostan mankind:
Café Scientifique is a program designed for adults who share an interest in scientific research and gathering in pubs and coffee houses for informal discussions on relevant and often provocative scientific topics. Science Cafés and Café Scientifique events are a chance for adults to exchange opinions and ideas about science and related issues. The Bell Museum launched its own Café Scientifique program two years ago which consisted of a happy hour program for adults that brings research from the University of Minnesota and beyond into some of the Twin Cities’ most unique and atmospheric bars and restaurants. The Bell Museum’s Café Scientifique explores science and natural history from distinct and surprising viewpoints, drawing connections between scientific research, culture, environment and everyday life. The Bell Museum’s Café Scientifique features guests from a variety of fields with diverse and relevant expertise. Past events have included scientific researchers, policy experts, bioethicists, community leaders, cultural historians, artists, and authors for dynamic discussions that bridge the gap between science and culture.