Where are all the people?
Now, I don’t have any scientific evidence supporting the above claim but I think I found the least visited gallery at the Field Museum. It was holiday break and I was standing in the center of Stanley Field Hall needless to say it was crowded. There were people clamoring around Sue the dinosaur, running crazy through the Mummy galleries, and I don’t even want to talk about the lines to the bathroom. In the middle of this mess, I found myself wondering to areas that looked empty. That’s how I found the ONE empty gallery in the entire Field Museum.
The Plants of the World!
I counted a total of SIX people in the exhibit and I’m pretty sure some of them were lost and looking for the China exhibit.
After spending some quality time with the plants of the world I was pleased to discover that this gallery was actually pretty amazing. Hang on tight because I am about to reveal how COOL this exhibit is.
Imagine this it’s 1909 and you are the first Curator of Botany at the PRESTIGIOUS Field Museum in Chicago. You desperately want to share the wonders of the natural world with the people of Chicago but turns out that idea is hella expensive! For botanists, the only way to share plants, at that time, would be to build a hothouse in the museum to store and care for these tropical plants all year-round.
Well, this is the real-life problem of the first curator of botany at the Field Museum, Charles Frederick Millspaugh.
Never fear though, our boy Charles didn’t let that get him down. Oh no, he had a plan! He sent scientists to travel all around the world to start collecting plants, photographing plants, and taking extensive notes on plants. Some dried flower samples were sent back to the Field Museum and leaves were often used to make molds on the spot. Then Charles went out and hired a denture maker to build models using this research. You heard me a DENTURE MAKER.
Model makers used glass, wax, wire, latex and later plastic to painstakingly create these life like replicas. The result is amazing! Some of the plants have slightly yellowed leaves and even little holes where bugs may have nibbled on the plant. The project lasted from 1909 to 1968 and the end result is a collection of 300 models making it the largest collection of plant models in the world.
The next time you are wondering the halls of the Field Museum in Chicago do yourself a favor and stop by Plants of the Word. While it may not look as flashy as the dinosaurs and mummies it is a gallery full of love for the natural world…and fake plants.