Beijing Natural History Museum

by Caroline Killmer July. 25, 2011 10742 views

The Beijing Natural History Museum must be one of the least natural museums out there, and this is what makes it an entertaining, but not necessarily educational place to visit. Still, what it lacks in maintenance it makes up for in unintentional comedy.

A quick note to those who are familiar with the museum and its contents: we did not make it to the part with the deformed fetuses in jars. Sorry! We had only made it as far as the depressing taxidermy section (see below) when the museum turned off the AC and began kicking everyone out.

The central hall has several impressive dinosaur skeletons, including that of the Szechuanosaurus campi, which sounds like a delicious dish but is actually one of these [gallery.me.com], maybe. Apparently [en.wikipedia.org] its existence is based on a few bones and teeth, but no complete skeleton. Of course, that is not something that's going to stop the Natural History Museum.

Once you've actually entered the exhibit and started walking around on the bones, Tourist, you need to be stopped.

If ever reassembled dinosaur fossils could suddenly come to life, this would have been an awesome time.

And speaking of awesome, this is a random lightbox in the same main hall. I did not see a sign explaining the deal here, but in fairness I may have been blinded by the glory of the artwork itself.

A rather warm, dusty hall out the back contains even more incredibly realistic renderings of dinosaurs. Almost all the display consoles I could find were broken, although there was a video looping at the entrance that featured a cartoon t-rex running right at you, rawr! Cretaceous surprise! I believe it was meant to show you what it would have been like to live in the age of dinosaurs. I guess the outcome is simply that you get eaten immediately.

I think all the dilapidated dinos in this exhibit would have bolted for the exit had they the power to do so.

Another of our co-visitors to the museum. I swear, the children were even less impressed than the adults.

I'm willing to bet the security cameras weren't working either. This overlooked a collapsed wooden bridge over a shallow, dry pond.

Now we know what dinosaurs are made of.

Almost as bleak as extinction.

This little girl had just finished having a good cry before being rallied to pose for the World's Least Enthusiastic Picture, Dinosaur Category.

I ain't no paleontologist, but there's a lot on the internets to indicate that this is not the world's best rendering of a Scaphonyx. Or as it's apparently called now, “Hyperodapedon”. Wikipedia provides an equally hilarious portrait of this guy here [en.wikipedia.org].

The sign reads:

Laying Eggs
Dinosaurs reproduce by laying eggs. This dinosaur will lay an egg if you buy a coin and insert it to the coin slit. You can take the egg with you.

As far as we could gather, this dinosaur has not laid eggs since about 1992.

One giant wing of the museum was dedicated to an exhibit on seashells at the time of our visit. This was about as exciting as it got.

The world's first flowering plant? The museum says yes, it is.

If you look at this long enough, it will give you nightmares.

I promise, I will translate this the next time I am procrastinating by messing with the photoblog.

I guess humans had to learn about the importance of oxygen one way or another, but this still seems rather cruel.

Not a day goes by when I don't laugh aloud at the sheer hilarity of pine cones.

“Oak nuts can also be seminated by some animals (such as squirrel) who eat them.”

It was a surprise to find a book in a Chinese museum that actually acknowledged environmental degradation anywhere in the country. This was in the random gift shop that bridged the plant life section and the dark hall of bad taxidermy.

If anything, the casual use of flash in these photos makes the exhibit look better than it is.

A stuffed giraffe drinks from a very realistic clear stream.

Something about this makes it look like a painting by a 12th grader to me.

You have to wonder what plans for the other half of this ram were so urgent.

I only managed to grab an image of this sad polar bear behind glass before the guards ushered us out (because it was closing time, and not because they had discovered our thermos of mojitos).

Why doesn't this bear get teeth? I'm going to assume they were removed to loan to the dino exhibit, perhaps in order to bolster the credibility of the szechuanosaurus.

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