Museum of the Earth

1259 Trumansburg Rd. 
(Route 96)

Ithaca, NY

July 28, 2005

While we were staying in Ithaca we decided to drive around town and see what we could find. One of the places we drove to was the campus of Cornell University. That was a really beautiful area with many of the campus buildings dating back to the beginning of the University. As we left our RV park we passed a sign saying "Museum of the Earth". The sign out front seemed to indicate that it had to do with bones and fossils. My hubby, Bob, and I are very interested in history but sometimes museums that take us back to beginning of time can be dry and boring. As we approached the door I decided to check out the mascot. (Ouch! They didn't say these things still bite). We decided to stick our noses inside and see what they had to offer. We learned that their motto was "Where the Earth comes to life!". It certainly proved to be true. As we entered the lobby we saw what appeared to be a series of various tiles hung along the walls. We learned they were called "Rock of Ages Sands of Time". This was a series of paintings by Artist Barbara Page. They explained that the mural functions as a visual metaphor for an immense period of time - an eon (five hundred and fifty million years). This is the estimated time interval between the origin of visible macroscopic life on this planet and the present. Each of the contiguous panels in the series represents the passage of one million years. Fossil fauna and flora make their appearance in chronological order against a background reflecting past geological events. All of the organisms are depicted at true scale. The work was obviously very time consuming and upon closer inspection it gave a truly fascinating story of our existence.
In the entryway  is a 44ft long skeleton of a North Atlantic Right Whale, a young female who died tragically tangled in fishing gear in 1999. This species is the rarest large whale species in the world, with fewer than 350 individuals remaining. The ramp down to the lower level provided easy access to the rest of the building. They provided Discovery Stations which allowed hands-on exploration of fossils. There was the Fossil lab, the dino lab and the ice lab. I think it's important for children to be able to touch and handle things not just look at them through a glass case. As you can see, touching and handling is not just for children. Who knows? we could be looking at future anthropologist.
They also have an area where you can learn how the Museum is heated and cooled by the Earth itself using a Geothermal Heat Exchange System. Everywhere you will see displays such as this one detailing where the fossil was found, what it was and what time era it came from. We actually had a good time learning about the various ages of the earth and its inhabitants in addition to the causes of the changes. What I thought would be a dull visit turned in to being a really fascinating insight into the earth's early beginnings. I definitely would recommend a stop here for families with children or just adults wanting to look at the earth's beginnings.

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