One of the most frequent comments I hear from visitors at the Field Museum is that they can’t believe how much there is to see and how they feel that they can’t possibly see everything in just a single day. They’re right, the public floors are filled with objects and artifacts from all over the world, and only 1% of the objects in the Field’s collection are on display, to see everything in the collection would be truly impossible.
One of the things I tell guests is that even though I’ve been wandering there halls for years I haven’t seen everything either. One of my favorite things is to wander by a case and glance into it, only to realize that I am looking at something unique that I have never seen before. One of the only draw-backs to working part time at the Field right now is that I have more responsibilities and therefore less time for exploring and remembering why it is that I loved the building in the first place, something that I suppose is all to common in many jobs. So on Saturday I stayed a bit later and wandered around a bit, and I ended up finding something I wasn’t expecting.
When I was in London I spent lots of wonderful time at various museums, one of which was the British Natural History Museum, just up the street from where I lived. One day on my adventures there I found myself in the geology hall early in the morning. It was a beautiful long room full of stone pillars and wooden cases that showed off the beauty of the building and the precious rocks and minerals on display. I spent several hours in the room. I was practically the only one there and was able to run around, read, snap pictures, and take video to my heart’s content without any strange looks from other people.
At the very back was a secondary room called “The Vault” with valuable stones, including space rocks from the moon and meteorites. One of these rocks had one of the most incredible things I had ever seen. Scientists had extracted stardust from inside the rock and the “dust” was sitting in a small vile next to the rock. The dust was actually made up of tiny diamonds that had formed around stars millions of years ago and eventually found its way to work. I had had no idea that Stardust was a substance that could be found on Earth and I was completely intrigued by it. I stood staring at it for the longest time, feeling this strange connection to the entire world, knowing I was staring at something that had formed so many billions of years ago from a world and a place so far away I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like. I was sad to say goodbye to the stardust, but joyful to have found it.
So back to Saturday at the Field. I wandered into the gem/geology/space area and went up to a case that I had always simply walked by hundreds of times. In that case was stardust. Just sitting there. I had never noticed it. I went all the way to London and was so intrigued by finding stardust there, I never realized it was something sitting and waiting at the Field all along. I was so excited to see it again. It brought back so many good memories of London and that feeling of connection with everything.
So here’s to looking, exploring, and always finding something new. (BTW the pictures I took on my phone on Saturday were so much better than the pictures I was able to take with my camera two years ago, because that’s how awesome technology is).