My Visit to the American Museum of Natural History Essay

3048 Words 13 Pages
The three Halls that I visited at the American Museum of Natural History were: Halls of the Pacific Peoples, Northwest Coast Indians and Asian peoples. All of these Halls were distinctly different from each other, although I enjoyed viewing all three, my favorite Hall was that of Asian Peoples. Of special interest was the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, since I was able to witness and play in my head, a reel of the transformations it has gone through since the time of Franz Boas, as described in an article “A Magic Place”. Reading the article beforehand helped make me aware of the changes that were made to the exhibit since the time of Franz Boas, while I was exploring the Northwest Coast Hall.
The article, “A Magic Place” provides
…show more content…
Boas was interested in showing cross- cultural analysis of discrete traits of tribes. The Hall then proceeded with independent collections that depicted the uniqueness of single tribes. The tribal series began with the northern tribes, such as Tlingit, and progressed to the Southern tribes, such as Kwakwaka’wakw. The infamous Haida canoe was suspended from the ceiling, alongside suspended nets and smaller canoes. In 1905 Boas resigned, following a dispute regarding his belief that the priority of research and publication over exhibition with the museum administrators.
The Hall went through major changes after Boas’ departure. The museum administrators, and the new curator, Clark Wissler, focused on making the Hall more public friendly and appealing. They separated the study series from the specimens and “simplified” the Hall by removing Boas’ synopsis series. The arrangement of the material was done geographically, from north to south. The low center cases were removed and replaced with the Haida canoe. The Haida canoe was removed from the ceiling and placed on the ground with about twenty mannequins inside it depicting the potlatch journey. The canoe was later moved to the lobby outside the Hall, and was once again hung from the ceiling, without the mannequins. Boas’ cedar life group was broken up and moved to various side and back cases. Murals were painted depicting scenery and specific…