I got to got to the Field Museum in Chicago last week, and it was a blast! (Despite riding in a van with a woman who baby talked–*shudder*)

NCSE logo

First, we saw the Darwin Exhibit, on loan from AMNH. Total science geek-out for me, although I’m not sure the undergrads I was with were as excited. Neatest was seeing the original sketch that is now part of the new NCSE logo.

I also really liked seeing some actual Geospiza finches, since I’ve only ever seen photos–comparing the beaks and bodies in 3-D is much more interesting. The reconstruction of Darwin’s study where he did his writing was also neat. It was hard to imagine that the world was changed in such a cozy, crowded little study.

Next I got to look at a very nice cicada and Emerald Ash Borer exhibit, and then the Underground Adventure. UA is really more for kids, but it’s fun to get a sense of scale with giant roots and bugs. (Huge animatronic earwig!! I so need one!!)

There were also shed cicada skins you could crawl into and “emerge” from. Alas, the undergrads were too cool to come in the “Little Kid” exhibit with me, so no photos. One of the best parts of the exhibit was the illustration of pore spaces in soil–you can reach through from different angles and try to join hands. I wish I could have had that in my soils course!

We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Pritzker Molecular Lab by a very nice scientist, and my students were shocked to learn that a 1/2 million dollar high-throughput robotic sequencer wasn’t….bigger. Or at least had some blinky lights.

We also learned that the Museum is planning to knock out a wall to make the research going on in the Molecular labs visible to the public. This is a brilliant idea! Much of the work at a museum is invisible to visitors. By making a window into the labs of scientists (literally), they are showing what goes on to help learn more about the world around us.

What would a window into your lab show?

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. What kind of sequencer was it? An ABI 3730?

  2. Oh, I SO would have played in the kids’ section! Take me next time (please, please, please ;-)

  3. Yeah, but you would have had to ride in the car with the woman that baby-talked.

    She’s lucky to be alive, I tell you!

  4. oh, and I have no idea what kind of sequencer it was–you’d have to check the Pritzker website. I know the lingo, and how it works, but I don’t use one regularly.

  5. I don’t have a lab, but a recreation of my writing area would be a mess of plants, window bars, books and dust. To get the stacks of paper to topple just right would be a trick worthy of any set stylist…

  6. Also, the Field Museum sounds very fun.

  7. I’m a member of the Field, and it’s really amazing what improvements they’ve made over the past few years. When I was a kid it was kind of dusty and dated, but nowadays it rocks.

  8. The Field Museum had its own site for the Darwin exhibit, which unfortunately I have not been able to see!

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