Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Natural History Museum, New York
Yesterday I spent the day on a shoot in the staff only section of the AMNH. I can't think of too many other ways I'd like to spend a day. Photographer Robert Clark was shooting a still life portfolio for me for the upcoming Discover special issue on human origins. We worked with AMNH curators, writers, academics and media relations folks to locate artifacts for the shoot from the vast collection. Much on the fifth floor was beautiful and old, the wooden glass-front cabinets, the script on the artifacts, the lights, the furniture. Big windows look out over the treetops. I held a bone needle in my hand that was considered fairly recent at over 30,000 years old. Curators were flustered when they failed to locate a horse carving for us. The last time someone had laid eyes on it was one hundred years ago. Apparently that is not unusual in these sprawling anthropology collections.
It is easy to make fun of so-called primitive peoples and neanderthals. However, when you are holding a mammoth tooth in one hand, and a stone spear point on the other, you would be a fool not to be impressed. How many people today would be willing to take on a mammoth with a handmade spear?
Please excuse the terrible Blackberry photos