Manchester Museum is having refits and renovations to improve the natural history area. More stuffed animals, more of the original building exposed, and hopefully more aquariums and vivariums. My niece was in overdrive, buzzing in circles, bumping her head on the glass, and yelping peck peck peck, beak beak beak at the ancient Egyptian mummies. She couldn’t comprehend the difference between Mummy and mummies, and to be honest the difference didn’t really matter. She pointed at a few random artefacts proclaiming I like that, I like that but when asked what things were she didn’t know. Earlier in the trip the current guest exhibit China: Journey to the East had received the same passing endorsement. I only remember a blur of bells, chop sticks, pots, brushes, writing paraphernalia, and red envelopes.
In the mad hyper child-driven frenzy that we travelled through the museum I failed to notice if the foot had been reattached to the mummy. Years ago it was attached, but a visit about four years ago I noticed it had partially snapped of due to being improperly laid on its acrylic support. Last year it still hadn’t been attended to. Last time I visited with my niece she was in a phase of claiming to be scared by things, particularly the elephant skeleton and the mummies. This time round I didn’t hear her use the word once. Yesterday she did enthusiastically proclaim I LOVE DINOSAURS!!!!!!!! and was greatly anticipating the Tyrannosaurus rex. She doesn’t know dinosaur’s names yet, but she does know cool when she sees it.
The giant T. rex skeleton in the pre-historic life room extracted a brief wow-yelp from her, before she returned to running around aimlessly and pointing at seeming irrelevances like door handles and window ledges. She caught her reflection in a blacked out pane of glass and declared look, I’m brown. Around the back of the T. rex, its looong tail impressed us all. Our tails have vanished, she rightly deduced. Back to the vivariums and she struggled to see the spiny-tailed monitor until it plopped itself right in front of her. When it stopped she said it’s resting, is it tired, will it fall off? I attempted to point out its food, a largish black beetle on a rock, and she glanced here and there in all directions but the way I pointed.
The snakes were still and the frogs and toads were mostly invisible. My niece made up for this partial disappointment by running in circles and counting. I didn’t get a chance to look at the cuneiform which is one of my favourite bits, and I’ll need to pop back soon to have a proper look at the China exhibition. At first glance it looked pretty underwhelming, as I have come to expect from the Manchester Museum’s temporary exhibitions, in the room beside the giftshop near the main entrance.
After the pisspoor clumsy bungle of the Lindow Man exhibition (which included Care Bears for the pathetically tenuous reason that Lindow Man was discovered in the 1980s), my expectations are set very low indeed. The Darwin exhibition last year was passable, but with it tying in with the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Darwin stuff was in high demand and all the good stuff was in the Natural History Museum in London. Incidentally my dad gave me a Darwin t-shirt yesterday; the fish-with-legs design mocking the Christian ichthys Jesus-fish symbol. I wore it proudly.