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The American Museum Of Natural History: Anthropology Essay, Research Paper

The American Museum of Natural History: Anthropology

The American Museum of Natural History has many exhibits that

demonstrate many aspects of anthropology. The Museum is located on Central Park

West between W81st and W77nd streets. The museum is an excellent place to open

oneself to many new ideas and cultures. When looking through the museum the

exhibits that are anthropological could enhance ones understanding of a culture.

The museum is very big and a lot of time is needed to get the most out of it.

The following exhibits that demonstrate many aspects of anthropology are located

on the first, second and third floors. The first floor has American Northwest

Coast Peoples, Eskimos, Human Biology and Evolution. The second floor had

African Peoples, Asian Peoples, Mexico and Central American Peoples, and South

American Peoples. Finally, the third floor had Primates, North American Eastern

Woodlands And Plains Peoples, and Pacific Peoples. The museum also included

many other interesting exhibits that did not have to do with anthropology like

the Dinosaur Hall. All these exhibits in the museum had detailed information on

each exhibit whether it was a big sculpture or a little skeleton. There was

also films that could have been seen for a small price, but if one has the time

it is very educational and worth seeing.

In the hall of Asian Peoples the most intriguing exhibits was the

Chinese Wedding. It was very interesting to see how a different culture gets

married. In this wedding the Chinese bride sits in this beautiful bridal chair

from the groom’s family that had carried her from her home. The bride now says

her good-byes to her own family because in the Chinese culture she is now part

of the grooms family. ” Her impressive dowery, displayed by the procession on

the road , gives prestige to her family as the beauty of the bridal chair gives

prestige to the groom’s.” Prestige and honor are very important to the Chinese

culture and during an important event such as a wedding it is not unusual to

flaunt their prestige. To properly perform the dowry and the chair is a must.

In tradition Chinese culture the bride must be covered by a veil and the groom

never had seen her before he had removed the veil himself when she had arrived

at his family’s home.

In picture #1 this shows the background of a village in Shantung, in

northeastern China. In this province is where Confucius was born and lived

which also had a great amount of ancient tradition. ” The early 20th century

wedding chair, of wood, kingfisher feathers, copper wire, gilt and glass was

probably made in southern China. The way the Chinese get married is very

unusual to our western culture. This exhibit expresses to me that people are

very different all over the world and their is much to explore about other

cultures even an event such as a wedding.

One other exhibit seen in the Asian Peoples were an exhibit about dance.

It was called the personality in Dance. The junkai people perform a special

dance called the whirling dance. Dance in these peoples culture express a lot

of different things. It evokes many moods, inspiration of belief, the hope and

energy of young people, and the power of fear that could kill you. Society is

very important to these people. Dance also by itself can express the values

that a society should have that keep it binded together.

One educational exhibit is the Human Biology and Evolution Hall. This

exhibit introduces the common biology of humans, and how we evolutionized. The

biology of the humans were shown though holographic pictures. These pictures did

show the whole body including the muscles and the bones. The evolution part of

this exhibit was very interesting. ” We humans often think of ourselvess as the

culmination of a steady history of a evolutonary improvement. But this idea is

wrong, for evolution is neither goal-oriented nor merely a matter of species

gradual improving their adaptation to their environments. ” This is an excelent

quote from the evolution exhibit. This quote explains in a simplistic idea on

how humans did evolutionize. Evolution is a long process that can happen for

many reasons. One way humans became the way they did was from a common idea of

natural selection. The traits that were needed to survive would express

themselves more and more over time. This would happen because whoever did not

have these traits probably could not have survived and died. This could happen

for many reasons but the most likely would be a change in surroundings or

environment. The evolutionary trends of the humanbeing toward being better is

brain and body size, bipendalism, and their face and teeth. Much of the human

ability to make and use tools and other objects stems from the large size and

complexity of the human brain. Most modern humans have a braincase volume

between 1300 and 1500cc. In the course of human evolution the brain size has

more than tripled. Bipedalism or two-legged walking seems to be the ealiest

human characteristic to evolve. This form of locomotion led to the mordern

human skeletal parts such as the lower spinal column, pelvis, and legs. The

face and jaws of humans has decreased in size over time. The teeth had also

decreased in size.

This exhibit was a very good exhibit because it could teach us a lot

about ourselves and where we came from. It explained our trends toward what we

are now and why we went in that direction. Evolution is a complicated process

that is hard to understand. This is why this exhibit needed to have a lot of

simple information for someone that have never lerned about human evolution


One of the most interesting exhibits was the on of the Aztec stone of

the sun. Aztecs our very popular for their monuments and stone sculptures.

Their most popular monument is this stone of the sun known as the calender stone.

It includes allthe elements of a calendrical system, but it is not a calender.

All the symbols on this calender stone relate to the sun and accent. It also

expains the role of the sun in the aztecs belief and culture. The aztec preform

many rituals that have been drawn on the stone. In the museum they colored in

parts of the stone to explain what the deseigns meant. Look at the picture in

the back to fully understand this. The orange part of the stone, which is the

face in the middle, is the sun god ( Tonatiuh ). The yellow orange, which

surrounds the sun god, is cosmogonic myths of the Aztecs. The blue, which is

just outside the myths, is emblems referring to the four cardinal directions.

The pink, which is outside the cardinal directions, is the 20 day signs of the

260 day ritual calender. The yellow, which is located after the ritaul calender,

is the disc of the sun. The red, which is the end of the stone, is 2 fire

serpents. The green, the last design on the stone, is the date ” 13 need ”

which is supposed to be the birth of the sun. This stone expresses the great

beliefs the aztecs had for the sun. They were a people of great design and

expression for their culture.

Also in the same exhibit of the aztec stone was the Colossal Olmer Head.

This looked like a big head. It was found at the site of San Lorenza. It was

the largest and most outstanding sculpture of the great stone heads from the

olmer peoples. This head weighed 20 tons carved in a typical olmer style.

This hall itself included a lot of out standing sculptures. These

people in this hall seemed to like building and sculpturing things. They looked

like they spent years on making these sculptures. These sculptures are very

remarkable and I am very impressed of the talent these people had.

Inside the exhibit of the South American Peoples had a couple of

interesting little things. It showed a thing of warfare of the people in that

area. The only thing that I found intering about this was it looked like the

guy had a hamburger in his mouth. This exhibit itself was probably the worst

exhibit. If one of the most interesting things was a guy with a hamburger in

his mouth the exhibit could not have been very education or even eye catching.

It was very boring and I do not think I spent more then ten minutes in it. The

only thing I stared at was a tomb they had of one special person and a few other

people. There was not a lot of interesting new cultural ideas in this hall and

because I found this very boring and not educational it had to be as a hall the

worst one in the museum.

Some of the other exhbits that I have failed to talk about also had few

interesting factural ideas in them. The one exhibit I also felt was horrible

was the eskimos. It was closed the day I went to the museum and I was realy

looking foward to seeing the Eskimo exhibit.

My favorite hall was the one of the Pacific Peoples. This the hall that

I have my picture with my girl friend next to a beautiful stone sculpture. This

large stone sculpture was located on easter island. More than 250 complete and

partial sculptures still remain on this small isolated island. Some of the

figures are more than 30 feet high and weigh 20 tons. These people even

impressed me more in a whole then the aztec’s and others in that hall that made

nice sculptures also. These people cut them from lava and transported from the

quarry near the middle of the island. The Marquesas are where the first

settlers that came to easter island are beleived to come from. Little are known

about the heads and figures made by people. I think this is very interesting

and would want to find out more about these peoples and their sculptures. This

hall was also my favorite because I was always interested in seeing the

beautiful pacific. So seeing exhibits with skeletons in them excited me in a way

that I was happy we had saved this exhibit for last.

The museum in an overall view gave me a better understanding to

anthopology as a whole. Each exhibit had detailed facts about the culture and

the people. For Example, we have learned about the human evolution in the class,

but the museum as you can see had good exhibits showing the evolution change in

humans in great detail. Another example could be the skeletal bones I saw at

the museum. After seeing the bones at the museum I could easily relate them to

the story in the Phillip Whitten and David E. K. Hunter anthropology book of No

Bones Unturned. This had gave me a better grasp at what they were looking at.

It had also given me more interest to how they looked at the bones and what

techniques they used.

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