I can’t remember ever not having a huge crush on science. As a kid I loved dinosaurs, sea creatures and the like but once I got older, evolution, anthropology, and biology somehow became more relevant to my grown-up self. Maybe it had to do with an appreciation of my mortality as I began to wrap my brain around the vast concept of planet Earth.
I’m lucky to live in a city with a world class museum in honor of everything natural. The Field Museum of natural history sits handsomely on the Chicago lakefront and is a jewel in the study and exhibition of the natural and anthropological sciences. Recently I was invited by the Field to photograph Emily Graslie, the Chief Curiosity Correspondent of the Field Museum for Cosmopolitan. Emily is a former art student turned self styled science correspondent and host of the popular YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop about animals and the function of their [dead] bodies. She’s on staff with the communications department at the Field Museum.
I was fortunate that morning to sample parts of the museum that visitors almost never gets to see. Only ~ 1% of the Field’s specimens are on display. The rest of it is in storage or being used in study. As we wandered the maze of hallways and rooms, in no short supply were victorian storage cabinets of all sized filled with say, the skeletal remains of birds. Orangutans and water buffalo bones hung seemingly discarded in hallways. Spider collections, and jars and jars of all too recognizable preserved animals from generations ago sit on rows of shelves. The Field is a living museum. Imagine if the Met could have Edgar Degas live-painting ballerinas in the basement–the collection is constantly being added to, documented and prepared right on site.
One of the most fascinating places I photographed in was the egg room where thousands of eggs, some tiny enough to fit in a thimble lived adjacent to ostrich eggs so dense and heavy you’d think they were made from porcelain. Emily toured me from department to department dropping little pearls of wisdom about the collection and the animals we got to touch and smell.
Read the published story here at Cosmopolitan.com