Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Museum Review: National Geographic Frogs

The National Geographic building has a pretty slick setup.

There's several TVs setup along the glass windows and external speakers so you can sit outside and watch the National Geographic Channel.

Between the TVs are displays of various artifacts from National Geographic expeditions.

There are several stands around the outside for the first display you see as you approach. Currently they talk about the albatross. (Note: the word "albatross" must be said in your best John Cleese voice)

On either side of the courtyard there's a museum. The smaller one, to the left, has a life size replica of a Nigersaurus skeleton and information about it and it's recovery.

It's the larger of the two museums I want to talk about today. They've converted almost the whole area to an exhibit on frogs. I went there expecting a collection of dead frogs pinned to something and a lot of pictures. Or maybe some displays full of hiding frogs. This isn't what I got at all.

First, there was a crowd like I've never seen at the National Geographic before. People of all ages, too. Senior citizens, twenty-somethings on a date, lots of people there with their kids, and a bunch of people practicing their "nature" photography.

In the main display area there are twenty or so display cases decorated to recreate the frogs' natural habitats. But what you get here that you don't get in the zoo or PetSmart is the ability to see the frogs. Normally the frogs blend into their artificial habitat well enough that you have trouble knowing which displays are empty and which ones are just hiding well. Not here. While the habitats are good they have also been made so that the frogs are generally easy to find. Or if some have found a hiding spot there's enough frogs in that container so that you can find at least one with some ease.

Besides the frogs there's an exhibit where you perform an autopsy... er, dissection. Whatever. There's videos on how they eat, recordings of how they sound, and a long jump area to see how far you jump relative to a frog. There's a display showing the blow darts and guns used by tribes that use frog venoms in their darts.

Then you move into the photo gallery. That guy has one doozy of a camera.

Totally worth it. One of National Geographic's better exhibits. They need to do more living creature exhibits.

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