Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

The Field Museum of Natural History (commonly abbreviated to FMNH) is located in [Chicago, Illinois, USA. It sits on Lake Shore Drive next to Lake Michigan, part of a scenic complex known as Museum Campus Chicago.

The architecture of this building typifies the style initiated by the World's Columbian Exposition, of the 1890s. It was named the "Columbian Museum of Chicago" on September 16, 1893 but renamed after Marshall Field, a major donor, in 1905. The museum was originally housed in the "Palace of Fine Arts", the structure now occupied by the Museum of Science and Industry but the current location is a building that opened in 1921. The museum was the site of the 1997 movie "The Relic"

For some years, during the 1950s and 1960s, it was officially known as the "Chicago Natural History Museum" but eventually the still-popular name "Field Museum" was restored.

The museum is organized into four major departments: Anthropology, Zoology, Botany and Geology.

Some prized exhibits at The Field Museum include:

  • Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil skeleton currently known.
  • A comprehensive set of human cultural anthropology exhibits, including artifacts from ancient Egypt, the Pacific Northwest and Tibet.
  • A large and diverse taxidermy collection, featuring many large animals, including two prized African elephants and the infamous Lions of Tsavo, featured in the 1996 movie "The Ghost and the Darkness".

Sue the dinosaur

Sue at Field Museum

Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil skeleton currently known.

On May 17, 2000 The Field Museum unveiled Sue, the most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil yet discovered. Sue is 42 feet (13 m) long, stands 13 feet (4 m) high at the hips and is 67 million years old. The fossil was named Sue after the paleontologist who found it — Sue Hendrickson. Sue is a permanent feature at The Field Museum. Sue's body is located on the main floor in the Stanley Field Hall. Her head was too heavy to be mounted on the rest of the body, so it is located on a second floor balcony. There is no additional charge to see this exhibit. Sue and her juvenile counterpart, Jane give Illinois two important Tyrannosaurus rex fossils.

Research and Education

The Field Museum is a leader in international research. The Museum currently has over 20 million specimens in its collections and continues to sponsor field research around the world. It is currently working on digitizing its collection, so that other scientists and the public have better access to specimens. Other work includes a joint effort between Chicago, London and Baghdad to catalog artifacts located at the three museums that came from Kish, which is a five thousand year old city south of Baghdad. The Museum's library comprises more than 250,000 volumes.

The Harris Educational Loan Program began in 1911. It works with area schools and families to increase education. Hundreds of items can be borrowed from the Program by teachers and parents for use outside the Museum.

Permanent Exhibits

There are many permanent exhibits located at The Field Museum for the public to enjoy. Many animal specimens are on display in exhibits like Nature Walk, Mammals of Asia, Mammals of Africa, and several other exhibits. Through these exhibits, visitors can get an up-close look at the diverse habitats that hundreds of animals inhabit.

The Grainger Hall of Gems features a large collection of diamonds and gems from around the world, including a Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass window. The Hall of Jades focuses on the way that the Chinese used Jade for eight thousand years.

Two laboratories in the Museum can be viewed by the public through glass windows. In the McDonald's Fossil Prep Lab, the public can watch as paleontologists prepare real fossils for study. The Regenstein Laboratory is a 1,600-square-foot conservation and collections facility. Visitors can watch as conservators work to preserve and study objects from all over the world.

The "Underground Adventure" 'shrinks' visitors to the size of a penny. They will get to see what insects and soil look like from that size. School groups and families will learn about the soil's biodiversity and the importance of healthy soil. There is an additional charge to see this exhibit.

Inside Ancient Egypt offers a glimpse into what life was like for ancient Egyptians. Twenty-three human mummies are on display, as well as many mummified animals. The exhibit features a tomb that visitors can enter, complete with 5,000-year-old hieroglyphs. There are also many interactive displays, for both children and adults.

The Museum has a Native American exhibit, with totem poles and traditional costumes. Located within the exhibit is the newly reconstructed Pawnee Earth Lodge. Visitors to the lodge will learn what life was like for the Pawnee. It has proven to be one of the largest attractions for the Museum, especially for school groups.

The Museum's newest permanent exhibit, "Evolving Planet" (formerly "Life Over Time"), utilizes the Museum's extensive fossil collection, in order to present both the history and the evolution of life on Earth over a span of 4 billion years, from the first organism to present-day life. Contained within this exhibit are the murals of Charles R. Knight, the first artist to envision dinosaurs in as life-like a manner as was possible in his time (the 20-ft mural Triceratops vs. Tyrannosaurus is familiar worldwide). Also featured is an expanded dinosaur hall, with dinosaurs from every era, as well as interactive displays that can be more easily updated as paleontologists make new discoveries in the field.

Other exhibits include sections on Tibet and China, where visitors can view traditional clothing. There is also an exhibit on life in Africa, where visitors can learn about the many different cultures on the continent and an exhibit where visitors may 'visit' several Pacific Islands. The Museum houses an authentic 19th century Māori Meeting House, Ruatepupuke, from Tokomoru Bay, New Zealand.

Temporary Exhibits

The Field Museum always has several temporary exhibits on display. Most are open for a period of 6 to 11 months and can vary in subject matter.

"Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" is open from May 26 2006 - January 1 2007. The exhibit will contain 130 artifacts, including many from the Valley of the Kings. The artifacts are between 3,300 and 3,500 years old. Fifty of the objects are from King Tutankhamun's tomb alone, including his crown.

"Trash to Treasure: Salvage Archaeology in the Field Museum's Backyard" - the Field Museum rests on rubble from the Great Chicago Fire. During recent construction at the Museum many artefacts have been found. The findings prompted the opening of this exhibit.

"Insects: 105 Years of Collecting" - the Field Museum has one of the largest collections of insects in the world. This exhibit displays some of the most interesting pieces in the collection, along with stories from collectors.

"Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics" is open from September 15 2006 - April 1 2007. This exhibit will examine the ground-breaking work of 19th-century friar Gregor Mendel. Visitors will be able to see his original manuscripts and scientific equipment, learning about the basics of heredity that Mendel discovered in his experiments with peas.

In addition, special photo exhibits can be found in the Maori Gallery and in the Rice Gallery.


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