Monday, June 1, 2009

Fairbanks Museum

This weekend, J and I drove up to St. Johnsbury - a quaint little town in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. St. Jay, as the locals say, has a beautiful historic district with old brick buildings and a lovely little museum. We've been wanting to go to the Fairbanks Museum for quite some time, but since neither of us have a car it was only this past weekend, when J's sister was out of town and we had her car, that we could get there.

The Fairbanks Museum opened in 1891, though before that, Franklin Fairbanks invited folks to view his "cabinet of curiosities" in home where, on the third floor, he had a collection of natural objects.
I was pretty impressed by the museum. It had one of the most extensive collections of birds (dead ones) that I've seen, though many of them are so old that the colors are starting to fade from their feathers. almost the whole first floor of the museum, which was one gigantic room, was devoted to birds. There were also some stuffed bears, a moose, a tiger and some small mammals.

The second floor of the museum had a mishmash of items and themes. There were minerals, dolls, historical artifacts from around the world and a little display of the history of life through time. The mineral collection was impressive, not in size, but in specimen quality. The dinosaur display emphasized the historical aspects of paleontology but was lacking in anything modern. Besides casts of T. rex and Styracosaurus albertiensis, the only visuals were replicas of Mantell's statues and illustrations of lumbering sauropods with their tails dragging on the ground. Though the display information acknowledged recent advances in paleontology, any child running through the museum probably wouldn't pick that up.

Regardless, the museum was defininely fun to visit and I would recommend it to anyone as a stop on a day trip.

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