Weekend Adventures – City Museum and a Birthday Party

This weekend was a whirlwind road trip. The Hubby and I took Friday off to drive down to Carbondale, Illinois for my Mom’s 60th birthday party. We had to pick up my sister, Erin, at the St. Louis airport at midnight along the way, so we worked it out so that the Hubby and I could spend a couple hours at the City Museum in St. Louis. The City Museum is one of my favorite places to play in the world. I always feel 10 years younger there. The museum is eccentric and whimsical; it consists of found art and lots of tunnels and man-made caves to explore and crawl around in, curving staircases to climb, and slides and ropes and even a ball pit!

Continue reading “Weekend Adventures – City Museum and a Birthday Party”

Weekend Adventures – City Museum and a Birthday Party

Buccaneer’s Ball in Photos


Last Wednesday a bunch of friends and I went to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Social Science event, Buccaneer’s Ball. Social Science is a quarterly event that SMM holds on a weeknight after normal business hours. The event is restricted to people who are at least 21 years old. The museum brings in cash bars, appetizers, dancers and actors, DJs and special exhibits. The coolest thing for me about Social Science is seeing adults enjoying the regular exhibits (the ones that are usually filled with little kids) – and watching that sense of wonder and curiosity that is usually reserved for a younger set play across their faces.

The featured exhibit this time around was Real Pirates – Arrrr! The friends that I went with are geeks, cosplayers, Ren Fest participants and con-goers, so naturally this happened:

Continue reading “Buccaneer’s Ball in Photos”

Buccaneer’s Ball in Photos

Buccaneer's Ball in Photos


Last Wednesday a bunch of friends and I went to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Social Science event, Buccaneer’s Ball. Social Science is a quarterly event that SMM holds on a weeknight after normal business hours. The event is restricted to people who are at least 21 years old. The museum brings in cash bars, appetizers, dancers and actors, DJs and special exhibits. The coolest thing for me about Social Science is seeing adults enjoying the regular exhibits (the ones that are usually filled with little kids) – and watching that sense of wonder and curiosity that is usually reserved for a younger set play across their faces.

The featured exhibit this time around was Real Pirates – Arrrr! The friends that I went with are geeks, cosplayers, Ren Fest participants and con-goers, so naturally this happened:

Continue reading “Buccaneer's Ball in Photos”

Buccaneer's Ball in Photos

Social Science – Party with the Pharaohs

How much fun was the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Social Science: Party with the Pharaohs on Wednesday?


When the Hubby and I first arrived, I was little worried. We found parking as soon as we entered the ramp (not a good sign – where was everybody?), and when we arrived in the lobby at 6:45pm (15 minutes prior to doors opening), we sauntered in, flashed our IDs at the ID-checking dude at the door and walked right up to an available ticket salesman. Ack! Was anybody but us going to show up for this thing? Three of our friends had arrived around the same time and were hanging out on one of the couches. We grabbed some wine from the cash bar and waited for the rest of our group to arrive. A few people trickled in over the next 15 minutes or so, but the music from the DJ was still echoing around in the mostly empty, large, open space. Ohhhh dear.

And then it happened – the tipping point. Around 7:15 pm people started POURING into the lobby.

People queued up to buy tickets – excellent! HUGE crowd = More events like this in the future!

The Hubby and some of our friends took over the plush couch area. Behind them you can see the ticket line extending out of the lobby doors and all the way back to the elevators! Yipee!

I hung around in the lobby to see if anyone else from our group was going to arrive while the others headed downstairs to try out some of the good from Crave, Golden Fig and TeaSource. It was reported back that the food was all interesting and tasty, and while there was enough food to handle the crowd, the lines were tremendously long.

Our first stop was the 8pm showing of Mummies at the OmniMax theater. The movie went through some of the history of Egyptian dynasties and the discovery of the royal tombs in the 1800s. It was entertaining, and visually amazing as always. At one point the picture was so crisp and we were seated at such a perfect angle that I had an odd sensation of being in the on-screen crowd. Fun!

After that we went to the 5th floor – the Mississipi River Gallery. All of the normal exhibits were open, and there were special live animal exhibits for the Social Science event. We saw an American Kestrel, snakes and other reptiles from the Minnesota Herpetological Society, and tarantulas from a Bugs exhibit.

After browsing around up here, it was time to go see the King Tut exhibit. I have a confession: I’m not a huge history buff. Not only do I not know a lot about history, I usually am not interested in it. I like to know leasons learned from history, but start going on about time lines and processions of leadership or rule and I have to work really hard to stay focused. That’s what a lot of the King Tut exhibit was about. There were some very interesting relics in the rooms we walked through – I liked looking at the statues, the jewelry, the stones and realizing that I was standing a few feet away from something that was thousands of years old – that was awe-inspiring.

But my favorite part of the exhibit was the room where the replica of King Tut was stored. Here there was a panel presentation of the medical and imaging technology that has been used in the last century to infer how, why and when King Tut met his early demise. Now, that’s cool! *shrugs* Specialized nerdery.

Afterwards we bummed around in the King Tut gift shop, and then we saw the Medical Quackery devices and the other fourth floor exhibits.

The Hubby tried on a Pharaoh’s head dress earlier in the evening at the lobby gift shop.

Me with LOLpharaoh kitty and LOLpharaoh dog.

Chris poses in front of the medical quackery devices.

A piece from the SMM’s permanent collection – an actual mummy (not a replica). This  was not part of the Tut exhibit.

Flying fossils!

Next we went to my favorite areas – the general science exhibits! I like the biology and medicine areas the best (of course), but the physics and chemistry areas also have a lot of fun hands-on activities. It was at this point in the evening when we discovered we had made a mistake. If you’re going to go to the museum to enjoy the benefits of no kids – skip the Omnimax and go play in the routine exhibits! Kids are pretty well behaved in the theater and in the solemn, respectful atmosphere of the special exhibits; it’s in the “play areas” that they run wild! Plus, by the time we had finished up with the mummy stuff, everything was shutting down; I missed the DNA lab and the interactive presentations at the activity areas! Ah well, next time we’ll know.

Back-lit slice o’ human. Sweeeeet.

Chemistry activity station

Hanging mural; part of the light and color exhibit.

Help, I’m trapped in a crystal ball! I’ve got a bit of a “Face of Boe” thing going on, don’t you think?

Dino fossils seen from the fourth floor – entry to the paleontology area.


That pretty much wrapped up our evening. We had just decided that we were too old/responsible to be up past 10pm on a school night when the “Get the hell out of the museum” announcements started playing over the intercom. I had a lovely time, and it was a really neat treat to see so many people in their 20s and 30s enjoying the museum. I can’t wait for the next Social Science!

Social Science – Party with the Pharaohs

Social Science and Stuff

Omigosh, I’m so excited to be going tonight to Party with the Pharaohs, the Science Museum of Minnesota’s first Social Science event for adults. I set up a page on Eventbrite to organize all of my fabulous science-minded friends for this evening, and some of y’all even accepted! I’m giddy. It’s going to be a blast, what with the mummies and the movies and the food and the cash bar and the live animal exhibition and the omnitheater and wheee!

So until tomorrow when I can tell you about how all of that went, here are some articles that caught my interest today:

  • Verbal and physical attacks on students are encourged by extremist animal rights group, Negotiation is Over. Reported on by Pharyngula, Respectful Insolence and Speaking of Research.
  • SlutWalk – A Toronto event that is speaking out against the idea that women who dress like “sluts” get what is coming to them. Covered by Almost Diamonds.
  • Abortion Crackers – What happened when a pro-choice store owner in a small town encountered an anti-choice consumer. Written by Liberal House on the Prairie.
Social Science and Stuff

Weekend Photo Fun

I had some fun with my new camera this weekend. I took lots and lots and lots of photos, and then proceeded to erase lots and lots and lots of photos. I learned that my camera currently knows a hell of a lot more than I do, but I reckon to be fixin that right quick.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend:

I’m going to try Flickr out for sharing some of my photos. I’ve set up a Flickr widget in the Biodork blog sidebar to the right.  It will take you to my album if you want to see some of the wacky times I’m having. This will also provide an outlet for me to post my photos without driving you all batty.

Weekend Photo Fun

Would you lie?

Seen on Nothing to Do With Abroath

Original article: NZHerald

New Zealand museum bans pregnant women from attending exhibit

A clash of cultures over a rule forbidding pregnant or menstruating women to attend a Te Papa exhibit has been criticised by feminists. An invitation for regional museums to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of some of Te Papa’s collections included the condition that “wahine who are either hapu [pregnant] or mate wahine [menstruating]” were unable to attend.

Jane Keig, Te Papa spokeswoman, said the policy was in place because of Maori beliefs surrounding the Taonga Maori collection included in the tour. She said the rule was one of the terms Te Papa agreed to when they took the collection.

“If a woman is pregnant or menstruating, they are tapu. Some of these taonga have been used in battle and to kill people. Pregnant women are sacred and the policy is in place to protect women from these objects.”

If an object is tapu it is “forbidden” and in Maori culture it is believed that if that tapu is not observed, something bad will happen. Women who plan to attend the tour on November 5 are expected to be honest about whether they are pregnant or menstruating as a sign of respect to Maori beliefs.

So the argument for keeping certain women out of the special tour is because the women are sacred, forbidden, and need to be protected.  And if they do go on the tour, tapu will be violated and something bad will happen. 

I have nothing to lose in this debate, so I don’t know if I would lie or not to get in.  But if I was affected by this ban, I might.  Or I might try to organize a boycott or protest.  The group imposing the restrictions doesn’t have the right to insist that I respect their beliefs. They have a right to not let me see their private stuff, but do they have the right to open their collection to the public except for the people they don’t want to see it? This particular museum is a public institution that accepts public funding.

Does the owner of a private collection have a right to place restrictions on who gets to see it, even if they allow it to be displayed at a public institution?

If only I had a seestor with a concentration in museum studies…

Would you lie?

Sunday: Perugia Archeology Museum

On Sunday we visited the Museo Archeologico Nazionale dell’Umbria.  The museum is located in the southern end of the city in a beautiful old building that once housed the convent of San Domenico.

Upon passing through the main arch into the museum visitors are greeted by a large courtyard with a now unused well in the center. 

View of the courtyard from the second story

Cinerary urns dating back to the 3rd-1st century B.C. line the four walls of the old cloister.



The museum is split into two major sections: prehistoric and Etruscan-Roman history.   The Hubby posed next to this poster introducing the history of man exhibit.  Yup…there’s that 96%.

Our stop at the next exhibit was one of the times during our visit that I really regretted not being able to understand Italian.  This is an interactive display discussing evolution, creation and intelligent design.  The gentleman on the left (my left)  is a professor at one of the Italian universities, and the gentleman on the right is a clergyman.   If no one is using the exhibit, both  videos are on a loop to show the men sitting calmly, twiddling their thumbs (literally in some instances), waiting to answer your questions.

Here is a close up of the computer display.  For each question you can get the viewpoint of both the scientist and the clergyman.  There are questions about evolution, creation science and intelligent design.  I’d love to hear the respones from the two speakers…and to know if the exhibit is biased one way or the other.

Further on in the museum we found a really neat room that contained two sarcophagi (-gus? -gueses?). 

This sarcophagus that the Hubby  is crouched in front of is described in one of the English-language guidebooks.  It’s not only neat because it’s a box that held an important dead dude; it contains historical information of the city.  From the guidebook:

This is the first major document of the city’s history and was made in Chiusi at the end of the 6th century B.C.  On the front is a frieze showing the return from a victorious military expedition with  a procession of soldiers carrying valuable booty: prisoners, objects loaded onto beasts of burden and herds of livestock.  Two banqueting scenes ornament the sides of the chest.

 The second sarcophogus contains the remains of it’s original inhabitant:

The Hubby gets up close and personal with  a human ancestor.

In my touristy, non-Italian-speaking, non-professional opinion, the exhibit halls were very well set up.  The displays were spread out and labelled and described in detail, the walls and spaces in each room were well-used and everything flowed in a linear fashion, i.e., we didn’t have to retrace our steps while moving from room to room.

One hallway in the museum -each doorway on the left leads to a small exhibit room.

Cool pyramid display cases – part of the museum’s amulet collection.

Copper helmet, pitchers

Slingshot projectiles display

One of the exhibits that really elicited a sense of awe from me was the Perugia cippus stone – an ancient (2nd-3rd century B.C.) boundary stone that used to be located at the edge of the city.  The writing is Etruscan, and the museum has blown-up a copy of the writing and placed it on the exhibit wall.  It highlights the different paragraphs on the stone, as well as names, places, and even mistakes made by the stonecutter.  From the guidebook:

This travertine block was a boundary marker.  The text records the agreements stipulated between the Velthina and Afuna families regarding the ownership or use of various pieces of land, on which stood, among other things, a tomb belonging to the Velthina.

Front of the cippus

Side of the cippus

An artist’s rendition of travelers or land dwellers standing around the cippus

That’s about it for the museum.  We were getting hungry and ready to sit for a while, so we headed out to find a trattoria.  But not before getting a few more pictures of the view from the museum.



More roof tiles…I love these things!

A final picture of the courtyard and the church of San Domenico rising up in the background.

Sunday: Perugia Archeology Museum

Perugia: POST Museum

On Saturday afternoon the Hubby and I went wandering around the streets near the apartments.  We were over on Via Pinturicchio when we saw these signs that said “POST” and “Scienza” and an unmistakeable symbol for museum…




A science museum in Perugia??? 

How lucky can a biodork get?

This was so fabulous that I decided to capture our visit on video.  Okay, really it was more like I just recently remembered that “Hey, there’s a video recorder on this camera!” but this seemed like a fun time and place to get some video.

Warning – these videos are all unscripted, spur of the minute, unedited recordings. I may say stupid, dorky, ignorant or just plain incorrect things in the following raw footage. Feel free to correct me if you notice mistakes, but I implore you to not be a dick about it.

Video 1: Introduction to Post.  In which I pronounce my geekiness from the hilltop.  Literally.

Video 2: Phone Exhibit.  In which I drag the Hubby into my geekiness.

Video 3: Main Hall. In which I display my embarrassingly rudimentary grasp of physics and calculus. It’s a damned parabola, okay? A parabola. Everyone say it with me…pah-rab-o-lah.

Video 4: Toilet Exhibit.  In which…okay, I got nothing.  It’s a toilet.  But it’s coooool.

See, wasn’t that awesome?  I loved that we had the whole place to ourselves, but it was a little sad that no one else was visiting the museum.  It was a children’s museum and very small – kind of one of those things you do once as a local, maybe.  Now I want to find out if there’s a big kid science museum in this city!

Perugia: POST Museum

Perugia: Thursday

On Thursday I woke up at the bright and early – if not chipper – hour of 6:30am to go on a solo walk.  It was wonderful to have the city all to myself – I only saw a few other early morning walkers, and the flow of traffic didn’t really start picking up until about 7:30am.  I explored new parts of Perugia, including some really steep hills and stairs.

When I got home Mom was just rolling out of bed, and we called the Hubby to breakfast (scrambled eggs with fresh mushrooms and pancetta cooked at the apartment!) around 9am.  Afterwards we walked two blocks over to the National Gallery of Umbria (Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria).  There was no photography allowed in the exhibit halls, which is a bummer because there are some beautiful works housed inside.  The place is just huge – it has 23 galleries of art from Umbrian artists dating back to the 13th century through the 16th.  This is a picture of the building itself, courtesty of Wikipedia.  The Fontana Maggiore is in the foreground to the right of the museum.

Later that night we had drinks at La Terrezza again, and then we relaxed and played some Italian Uno at the apartment.   As you might guess, Italian Uno is just like English Uno, except the directions are in Italian.   Which makes making up rules more fun. 

Iz in yur Italian Uno, makin up teh rulz.

Perugia: Thursday