Let’s Go to the Museum: Back to the Museum of Natural Sciences

Of all the different museums we’ve visited together over the past months, the Dinosaur Gallery in the Museum of Natural Sciences appears to have made the strongest impression on little gosling (see the account of our first visit here). A comeback was clearly in the cards. Again and again we were recollecting what we had seen and done the first time around.  

The second time, we paused a bit more on some of the interactive elements of the Dinosaur Gallery. The virtual moving Pachycephalosaurus was still an object of fascination. Therefore, taking turns, his daddy and I employed a little trick to try and make little gosling feel a little bit less scared of it. I sat in front of him, on the specially designated spot and responded to its every move with a roar and a claw-like hands movement of my own. It must be designed to play this game, since it seemed like it stopped disconcertedly, wondering every time I did that. I kept doing that defiantly and very vocally until it smashed the virtual glass panel that separated us. I repeated the trick several times whilst little gosling came closer and closer to me and started mimicking me. It frightened him less and less, although the smashing still made us all jump :)))). 

We played at identifying the dinosaur skeletons (and marvelled at the very long tail of the diplodocus) and matching the skull molds to the dinosaurs. We played with the levers mimicking the power and easiness of movement of the femur of upright vs. sprawling posture dinosaurs. We measured our heights against that of some of the dinosaurs. 

When little gosling asked to take a break and rest for a moment and looked up at me: “mummy, do you have something to read?” I brandished with a proud smirk a new acquisition: Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz’ “Mad about dinosaurs”. It was a surprise I had held in store just for this occasion. We quietly sat down and read all the quatrains in the book, looking around for the corresponding dinosaur skeletons. 

Much like the other books in the “Mad about..” series, this one describes in verse and super-colourful and suggestive illustrations twelve types of the most known dinosaurs, including the T-Rex, the triceratops, the stegosaurus, the diplodocus, the brontosaurus or the velociraptor. The star of the book was however the lesser known (to us) ankylosaurus, whose body is protected by an armour, so if you’re a T-Rex and unwise enough to attack it, you’ll end up breaking your teeth :))). Consequently, from then on, on our games of “if you were an animal, what would you be?”, the ankylosaurus has come up repeatedly. Why? Because he is obviously not afraid of the fierce T-Rex, like most of us would be if it was still roaming the Earth. The short poems and funny illustrations make for a playful and thoroughly enjoyable learning, for both mummy and little gosling, with just a nutshell of information easy to absorb by young minds. 

The reading finished, we moved on to “The living planet” exhibition, identifying animals (“I like best the…., because it is….”, pointing to them) and dwelling on the different habitats. Great learning opportunity all the photo visuals and the regrouping of animals per habitat. 

Little gosling sat down for another rest pretty soon and luckily chose to do it inside the Tetrapodium and Arthropodium – a small room exhibiting skeletons and sketches, all in ivory and black, of four and six legged animals. We played, taking turns at identifying and finding the different animals: “ I see a tortoise” – “Here”. “I see a rhino” – ‘There”, running around the room, with little going pointing excitedly at every find. We must have been at it for 15-20 minutes minimum, covering almost all of the animals in the room. 

We ended our tour with a visit to the museum cafeteria and a tasty sandwich. I’m sure we’ll be back again soon, as it was lots of fun.

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