Against the Infantilization of the Natural History Museum

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Justin Erik Halldór Smith speaks out against the infantilization of the natural history museum:

It has often struck me that no greater misfortune can befall a natural history museum than for it to come into enough money for renovations. These typically take the form of interactive screens displaying ‘fun facts’ directed at eight-year-olds, and they require the removal of anything that reeks of the past, which is to say also the removal of the very idea of natural history, in favor of some eternally present, unceasingly entertaining, Chuck E. Cheese-like arcade.

(Hat tip to Xavier Marquez.)


  1. Former Adler Planetarium Fan says:

    The Adler Planetarium in Chicago during my youth was filled with understated displays of ancient brass astronomical instruments, large and very clear backlit photographic plates and a dome show scored with Debussy and Bach.

    But now, Chuck E. Cheese is a perfect analog.

  2. Frank Lurz says:

    The devolution of the Adler Planetarium is a heartbreaking tragedy! That place was once a magnificent temple of learning open to everyone. At the age of twelve I learned about celestial navigation, precession of planetary axes, optics, atmospheric refraction, planetary motion and so much more. The Adler once served the needs of anyone, of any age, who had an interest surpassing the satisfaction derived from seeing galaxies colliding, planets being blown to bits or astronauts being eaten by dinosaurs. Today, a kid captivated by the mysteries of the universe must first buy a ticket, just to get in. And for what? Simply to be entertained by the sort of pap found appealing by an empty-headed dunce! Like Marshall Field, Andrew Carnegie, Paul Mellon, John D. Rockefeller and so many other philanthropists of his moral stature, Max Adler had a noble vision. Today’s directors of the Adler Planetarium now pursue a far more noble vision — money — at the expense of their own raison d’être!

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