The day following PZ's talk at CFI found us back at the Royal Ontario Museum (along with a few additional family members). Aside from just wanting to visit a museum (and see the diamonds exhibit), I wanted to see whether my earlier negative impression of the shiny new Michael Lee-Chen Crystal would hold.
And it's official: I still hate it. So did everyone else in our party. Previous comments on the architecture of the Crystal still hold, only even more so. The damn thing looms angrily over the sidewalk. The corrugated exterior siding is just ugly: stand it all up straight and square, and it would be right at home in any suburban industrial park. Skewing the walls at funny angles doesn't magically make it clever: it just makes it look like a suburban industrial building that's falling down. Inside, the walls lean at crazy angles and cock-eyed pillars shoot through the space.
I toured the paleo galleries again, and got even more annoyed. There is a serious lack of interpretive material to tell the viewer what they're looking at and why it matters. In one display case is a series of Jurassic fossil insects, each one accompanied by a similar modern bug skewered on a pin. They're all nicely identified, but so what? What exactly is this display telling me? Is it about relationships among ancient and modern insects? About insect taphonomy? Or should I take from it the creationist lesson that grasshoppers are still grasshoppers, and they all got buried in the Flood? I have no idea. And across from that there's another case in which dead bugs ancient and modern are jumbled together with no order, identification or explanation at all. And no, the video displays don't replace decent placards: only one party can use them at a time, and I don't see why I should wait in line to see if the TV has the answer to whatever question I have. And speaking of placards: would it be too hard to add a little graphic to each one, showing a schematic of the geological timescale, and a marker saying "this critter comes from here"? That would beat just saying "Jurassic", for those who don't already know that it comes between the Triassic and the Cretaceous (geek that I am, I've known since I was about 8yo -- but my FIL pointed out that he didn't). There's no obvious "path" guiding you through the exhibits, and the overall impression is less of a museum gallery than of a storage room. And how much money did these copper-clad monoliths cost, that might have been spent instead on the displays?But enough kvetching already. It is, at any rate, still a museum full of neat stuff.
That's one mean sardine:
Hey, he's chomping an ammonite! Bad mososaur! Bad!
Poor Bruin here looks a bit disconsolate about all these new-fangled changes to his abode:
This camel on the other hand, just looks smug: