Saturday, November 20, 2010

Museum Visit: San Francisco Academy of Sciences

Last week my mom was in town and I took her and her partner, Seth, to see the Academy of Sciences. We went to the diorama section. This was my first-time viewing of them and I thought it was nifty how they had updated them to include live animals as well.

In the one of the African Savannah, if you look beyond the zebras toward the horizon you can see a herd of elephants appearing and disappearing in the distant 'heat' (done digitally, I imagine). In addition, if you peer up into the tree above you'll find a leopard peering down on you. I loved all of those little hidden things.

I took a lot of pictures of the horns, because they vary so much and I'd like to incorporate them into the figures I create for my Bestia and Dreamers series.

We all enjoyed watching the film about the Academy of Science expeditions in the Galapagos section. These voyages resulted in many of the specimens that re-opened with the museum after it was demolished in the 1905 earthquake.  My mother and I went to the Galapagos Islands when I was in college, so it was of special interest. I had not realized to what extent the Academy serves as a research institute as well as an exhibiting entity.

We also took a quick trip up the elevator to see the living roof.  It is really hard to believe that this is a roof. It's like something out of the Shire.  I thought of Hundtertwasser's tree tenants.

A docent explained how they began by growing plants in coconut-husk boxes made especially for them in the Philippines.  The roots grow through the box and eventually break it down entirely. The egg carton forms catch the rain runoff.  There's a layer of insulation in between that lets water through but not the roots. 

Afterward we went to see the rainforest.  There really is nothing like it. Wandering from floor to canopy surrounded by live birds and butterflies while viewing (behind glass) environments containing bats, leaf cutting ants, tiny poisonous frogs, creatures from Madagascar, lizards truly is a living wonder world. I enjoy the fact that you must check in a mirror for butterflies when you leave, and that you enter by way of a semi-airlock, as if you are on a spaceship.

We were sorry when closing time came, but exiting the aquarium I caught sight of these Surinam toads, utterly frozen in this position (and no, they were not stuffed...well...OK, never mind).

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