No major diorama, just visiting dinosaurs in Berlin

I’m in my pajamas with heavy eyes, thinking about going to bed, but I want to get a few thoughts onto the page before sleep.  I just had a wonderful Berlin weekend with LTN (and his Mo), doing stuff.  Okay, we didn’t actually fit all that much stuff in, his plane was late, so we missed many museum windows and Saturday turned into a lazing and eating yummy food day (Gnocchi Berliner art: with red cabbage, bacon and apple in a red wine sauce. YUMMEH!), and Monday had teaching in it but we made it to more things than last time.

F’rinstance, we went to the Museum für Naturkunde .  They have the biggest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the whole world.  Fact according to Guinnesss and yes indeed, it’s pretty tall.

from the museum website

We mused on how the accepted format for natural history museums wherever you go seems to be to take a cool building with a big hall very near the entrance, add a dinosaur skeleton and arrange other stuff around the edges.  Whatever, it works.  This one got extra interactivity points though, lots of buttons for instructive clips including very exciting cladograms, plus 3D binocular doodahs on stands which magically clothed the skeletons in muscle and then set them wandering around the oldtime landscape.  Muchos exciting.   Berlin also has a world famous Archaeopteryx fossil, the ‘Ur vogel’ which was discovered 150 years ago in Bavaria and shows the hitherto ‘missing link’ between reptiles and birds – exciting stuff for scientists and, with dramatic storytelling as part of anniversary celebrations, for me too.

My favourite part of the visit was “Feathered Flight” a special exhibition celebrating this anniversary. There was a lot of fascinating science, but the outstanding element was a series of glass boxes suspended around the room which held a series of individual feathers, all absolutely stunning.  It really was outstanding, one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen for a long time.
Just one of many beautiful cases of feathers

Another two sections which I found particularly interesting were the Wet Collections and an exhibition detailing the preparation of items for the collection, both for scientific and display purposes.

Admittedly they may have contributed to some nightmares I had that night, but they were still worth seeing.  The wet collections are kept in a climate controlled room, and are both grotesque up close and strangely beautiful when viewed from a distance.  Like nothing I’d ever seen before.

Some people claim that this might not be the most romantic ‘date’ venue, but we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  At which point I should confess that the title of this post is an in-joke, sorry, and I’ll have to love you and leave you there.  Tales of the  Christmas Markt and German excellence in snack food shall be told tomorrow.  Auf wiedersehen.

Ed’s note – all pictures are from the museum’s website.


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