Searched For dinosaur museum

The Bishop Museum in Oahu

bishop museum

If you’re looking to learn about Hawaiian history and culture, the Bishop Museum may well be your jam. It absolutely was mine, and was in fact one of the most interesting and educational museums I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. The Bishop Museum contains the largest number of Polynesian artifacts in the world, from royal kahili (feather standards) and royal feather cloaks that are woven so tightly they appear to be made of cloth, to ceremonial artifacts and deity statues. Each section was beautifully displayed and evocatively described; you can appreciate the artifacts on their own, but the placards gave you the opportunity to dig deeper and learn more.

bishop museum hall

Look at all that luxe koa wood: those display cases are actually worth more than the original museum buildings! The Hawaiian hall covers everything from the gods of pre-contact Hawaii to Hawaiian daily life to Hawaiian history. There are a number of stations where you can learn Hawaiian storytelling, play with kala’au sticks, and more. Adjacent is the Pacific Hall, which teaches you about the distinct but connected cultures of Polynesia. They even had a small section on the aboriginal Taiwanese, which surprised me for some reason. Maybe because I didn’t learn much about the aboriginal culture when I was actually in Taiwan.


wooden sculpture

shark tooth weapon

The placard underneath this tiger shark tooth weapon said that it was used to kill tiger sharks, which is the most metal thing I’ve ever heard.

creepy statue

The placard with this statue of a shark deity said that its burial location was discovered in a dream where it had begged to be found, and they had to cement it into place in its current location, because despite their efforts to relocate it outside the Hawaiian Hall, it refused to be moved. Now look at its eyes again. Following you around? They haunted me that entire room.

hat display

There was an entire room dedicated to the craftsmanship of grass hats, and when you neared this camera, the monitor would plop a hat on your head. Fabulous, no?

protest signs    white people ruin everything

The Bishop Museum was very tasteful in their labeling of sheet music about America’s newfound interest in Hawaii, merely saying that the songwriters “created some absurd versions of the Hawaiian language.” My label would have been “Goddamn it, white people.”

bishop museum inside

bishop museum volcano

We moseyed over to the science hall to make sure we arrived in plenty of time for the lava pouring demonstration, the only place you can see melted lava in person on Oahu. Inside the science hall, they’ve got a wee volcano that wafts smoke from its top, and a sad slide that not even children can work up a good speed on, so it was extra sad when I tried it. I looked like a dog scooting his ass on the carpet, dragging myself down the slide with my feet. Echoes of the Kennedy Space Center and the ramp slide I made when they wouldn’t let me slide down their actual slide, except people were openly laughing at me this time.

To get to their hot shop under the volcano, you need to take a trip down the rainbow road, aka Stoner’s Paradise:

rainbow road

We were right on time, and the demonstrator taught us all about the different kinds of volcanic glass and passed around samples for us to touch and inspect. He also passed around a chunk of what will eventually be the new island in the Hawaiian chain, Lo’ihi, some 10,000-100,000 years from now, which means neither you nor I will vacation there in our lifetimes, barring vampiric immortality or robot bodies, neither of which would probably appreciate the salty sea air and blazing sun.

Then on to the good stuff: the lava pour. To get it into its liquid state, it has to be heated to over 1292°F, which is so hot that I’m assuming you can toast a marshmallow from 100 yards. No one has really invested in the marshmallow toasting sciences enough to tell me for certain. The lava solidified rapidly, and even though it was still incredibly hot, it could be picked up and manipulated.  At that level of heat, even in a protective suit the demonstrator couldn’t be near it for long, and he was out of the containment area before it cooled down enough to look like the rippled lava we more readily recognize.

lava flow demonstration

They also had dinosaurs. Poseable ones, rideable ones, and so many animatronic ones, and you know I’ll always take a hot second to gawk at some animatronic dinosaurs or maybe feed one an onion ring.

bishop t rex

trike rider

baby dinosaurs

The Bishop Museum was completely amazing, and even though every fiber of your body urges you to be outside every moment while you’re visiting Oahu, if you have any interest in Polynesian history or culture, I wholeheartedly recommend you carve out some time to visit.

The American Museum of Natural History in NY, NY


One could easily spend an entire day seeing everything there is to see in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (or longer, hence their overnight visits!), which is why, of course, we only spent about two hours there and bemoaned the fact that we couldn’t see more. Since my energy levels were low due to the plague, I had to carefully choose which things were most important for me to see, and thus we had visited The Cloisters earlier in the day which didn’t leave much time for AMNH. But I’d rather see part of a museum than none of it!

Since we knew right off the bat we wouldn’t be able to see everything, we narrowed it down to the halls that would have the least overlap with museum visits we’d done recently: The Hall of Biodiversity, The Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, The Hall of North American Forests, the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals. We also took a peek at the Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples on our way out, and passed through the Akeley Hall of African Mammals on our way in. Mainly, we skipped out on fossils and the center for Earth and Space even though planetariums and dinosaurs are my jam.





The Hall of Biodiversity was insanely awesome. It features more than 1,500 specimens and models, showcasing both the diversity of life on Earth and the threats to that life, including a timeline of the five previous mass extinctions. More than any museum exhibit I’ve ever seen, it serves as a call to action to guests to do what they can to preserve the variety of life teeming around them as each creature plays a important role.

milstein family hall of ocean life

eww some ocean creatures are not cute

hall of ocean life seals

hall of ocean life sharks

hall of ocean life

The Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life features, in addition to a 10.5 ton model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling from a relatively small anchor point, some of the diversity of life in the sea, from the shores to the deep oceans. The quality of these displays are top-notch: if you can close your ears to the people around you, it’s almost like you’re underwater with these creatures. They also feature a squid vs whale sea battle, though it’s far from being the largest in the world.

a bugs life

The Life of the Forest Floor exhibit shows how terrifying it would be to be insect size. “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” doesn’t even begin to touch on the nightmare world beneath our feet. I don’t even like centipedes at centipede size. Centipedes the size of a horse? Kill me now.



canadian ammonite

Up until The Hall of Meteorites, I was really impressed with the attention to detail and the care given to the museum’s subjects: to display them in a way that’s interesting and relevant to the modern viewer. However, some of the latter exhibits we visited have begun to show their age, the Earth and Planetary Sciences Halls in particular. The Hall of Meteorites is the only one that appears to have been touched since the 1970s; everything else has a display quality on par with the mineral exhibit we saw in some guy’s backyard near House on the Rock. Stained carpet everywhere, dusty exhibits, exhibits falling apart that haven’t been tended to, and a “wet paint” sign for paint that’s so old that the wall has since been scraped and chipped again. I know that minerals aren’t the most exciting subject, but there’s got to be a better way to display them than ringed in carpet. azurite-and-malachite-block radioactive minerals

realgar dust

wet paint

Overall, we enjoyed our visit to AMNH, and I think it would definitely warrant a repeat visit should we find ourselves in New York again. I just hope that some of our admission fee was earmarked toward updating some of the lesser-loved exhibits so that the museum can be truly distinguished in every way.

The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave


Sometimes it takes visiting a museum dedicated to another person to realize that you don’t have enough items in your home with your face and name emblazoned on them. For me, that museum was the Buffalo Bill museum. I’ll admit to not knowing much about Buffalo Bill prior to my visit, other than he was shot during a poker game at Deadwood….which wasn’t Buffalo Bill at all, it was Wild Bill, so let’s go ahead and say that I had a baseline knowledge of zero as pertains to Buffalo Bill.



William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was one of the more well-known figures (barring my ignorance) in the American West. He was born in Iowa, and like many Iowans, couldn’t wait to leave*; from there he covered nearly as much land as a person could cover in those days, traveling across the West as a scout, a Pony Express rider, a ’59er, a trapper, a hunter, a showman, and even as a founder of a town. The Buffalo Bill museum was established by his foster son, Johnny Baker, four years after Cody’s death.

I bore that fact in mind as I toured the museum; while every museum of this type has a vested interest in making the subject as appealing as possible, by being opened by his son, there’s an undeniable bias and some potential truth-twisting.


I had visited the restroom prior to entering the museum, and inside each stall was a short Buffalo Bill story. The one in my stall said that Cody was a great believer in women’s rights, had given Susan B. Anthony box seat tickets to his show, and when she arrived, he made a point of bowing to her in front of the entire audience. “Wow, what a great guy!” I thought. But when I saw the bit above about how his family was anti-slavery, and elsewhere in the museum that he was one of the first to call Native Americans “Americans” and recognize their rights as citizens, and that he didn’t even kill that many bison so he can’t be held accountable for their brush with extinction, I began to wonder how it was that he ended up on the right side of history in every major issue of his time. Given the caption of the above illustration, I figured there had to be a first-person account of this incident somewhere, and as it turned out, it’s free on Kindle. Cody’s father was stabbed at a public meeting regarding slavery, but his stance wasn’t quite as noble as the museum depicted:

“Gentlemen and Fellow-citizens: You have called upon me for a speech, and I have accepted your invitation rather against my will, as my views may not accord with the sentiments of the rest of this assembly. My remarks, at this time, will be brief and to the point. The question before us to-day is, shall the territory of Kansas be a free or a slave state. The question of slavery in itself is a broad one, and one which I do not care at this time and place to discuss at length. I apprehend that your motive in calling upon me is to have me express my sentiments in regard to the introduction of slavery into Kansas. I shall gratify your wishes in that respect. I was one of the pioneers of the State of Iowa, and aided in its settlement when it was a territory and helped to organize it as a state.

Gentlemen, I voted that it should be a white state–that negroes, whether free or slave, should never be allowed to locate within its limits; and, gentlemen, I say to you now, and I say it boldly, that I propose to exert all my power in making Kansas the same kind of state as Iowa. I believe in letting slavery remain as it now exists, and I shall always oppose its further extension.”

The autobiography cuts off before his Wild West show days, so a number of my questions are unanswered, but if his own book is to be believed, he certainly did kill a hell of a lot of bison: there’s an account of killing sixty-nine in a day in a killing contest, he attests to killing 4,280 over the course of his 18 month stint with the railroad, and it seemed like every time he spotted a herd, the entire thing was doomed. This isn’t the work of a conservationist, and I don’t know why the museum would attempt to portray him as such. No one is infallible, and I think the truth ultimately serves the public (and his legacy) better. When you see a few small not-quite-truths, it throws everything else that’s actually true (like the Susan B Anthony thing) into question. He was an interesting man, and it seemed like he was the Forrest Gump of his time, having a hand in just about everything of note during that time period–he even helped Marsh during the Bone Wars! There’s really no need to tell any half-truths to make him more compelling. Besides, it’s not like he was otherwise unlikeable from a modern perspective–I particularly enjoyed his bits of self-deprecating humor sprinkled throughout:

“Had the villains captured me they would have undoubtedly put an end to my career, and the public would have never had the pleasure of being bored by this autobiography.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis issue included no fewer than 17 new sex tips involving pemmican and hard tack.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI want–no, need a lamp with my face tastefully painted on it.



One of my favorite parts of the museum was the “Kids Cowboy Corral”, where I ignored the “kids” part entirely and tried my hand at lassoing a plastic calf. As it turns out, even when your “mount” and your target aren’t moving, this is really difficult to do, and I only succeeded in roping the calf’s ear. Jason cheated, and placed the lasso around the calf’s neck before taking a seat on the horse. In the Old West, they might’ve stabbed a man for that.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know why I find having little locks of hair on display so creepy. I just do.

An entire section of the museum was dedicated to Buffalo Bill artwork, and they left it to the viewing public to decide whether each was an example of folk, fine, or funky art.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt first, my attention was grabbed by the horse being shot in the forehead. As I look back on it later, I have to wonder–where is that guy’s neck?!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADefinitely fine art.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI could also use some really badass personal stationery. Wax stamp with my face on it mandatory.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart of Buffalo Bill’s storied spoon collection. Supposedly, he hired a guy whose sole job it was to polish them. So where are the rest?

At the end of the museum, they offer up an area for you to vote on your preferred museum experience–guided tours, audio tours, self-guided, etc. I took one look at the general public’s remarks and became incensed on behalf of the museum.



What are the odds that the majority of these were from one giant illiterate asshole family? Really, you and your shitty children were bored from too much reading? They had two videos, a dress-up station, a place to rope a calf, and a place to touch all sorts of animal pelts that you would probably otherwise never be able to touch. That’s not interactive and entertaining enough? What else do you need? A bank of game consoles so they can play “Grand Theft Stagecoach”? Someone walking around in an anthropomorphic bison costume? Maybe try the water park next time if you can’t handle all the reading at a fucking museum. It really irritates me when a museum that was this well-done gets slammed for not pandering to the lowest common denominator. I walked into the museum knowing nothing about Buffalo Bill, and from all the (gasp) reading I did while there, I left knowing quite a bit and wanting to know more. That’s a success, and I’d be very sorry to see it change format and lose some of the information contained therein.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s like they knew I was coming.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABetween these plateaus is the Coors plant, where they turn water into tinted water and can it.

Buffalo Bill was so immensely popular that multiple states battled over his corpse, each claiming that they should have the right, or that Buffalo Bill had stated his desire to be laid to rest there. Ultimately, he ended up in Golden, and Denver parked a tank near the grave while it was covered with over ten feet of concrete to prevent anyone from stealing the body.



The gift shop had a lot of your standard gift shop crap–snowglobes and t-shirts and pins and generic Colorado/vaguely Western stuff, plus an entire wall of creepy collectible dolls. I would have liked to have seen more Buffalo Bill-specific merchandise, more poster replicas, lasso kits, old West weapon replicas…things that you wouldn’t find at the very next gift shop down the road.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause if there’s one thing we need, it’s more armed kids walking around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the door of mixed messages.

If you have any interest in the Old West and don’t mind doing some reading, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is one of the better museums I’ve seen. It was definitely among my favorite activities on our jam-packed Colorado trip.

*According to a recent (2013) poll, this is a lie, Iowans generally speaking have a lower than average desire to move elsewhere.Damn facts, messing with my hack jokes!