Tuesday night Andrew and I attended the opening event for The Ancient Americas exhibit at the Field Museum. After 10 years of research and development and one year of intense production, the doors opened for approximately 3000 people to witness the unveiling of one of the museum's largest exhibits. It is always amazing to see Andrew's models behind glass, and to know that they will be there for years to come.
Since Andrew has started working for the Field Museum, I have heard many stories from behind the scenes. For me, and perhaps for many of us, museums have always represented things that are untouchable and out of reach, things that are so much bigger than us—histories, philosophies, people groups. Walking through the halls of a museum and seeing irreplaceable artifacts behind glass, it is easy to view them as untouched relics of a distant past. But my perspective has changed after hearing about the drama of developing an exhibit and all the inevitable improvisations, repairs and adjustments. It makes a museum seem a lot more… human. There actually are people handling these artifacts, and believe it or not, the exhibits don’t just appear out of nowhere. Normally, this kind of information would ruin it for me. How can I be in awe over something that has been stripped of its wonder? How can I have reverence for an artifact after knowing that it may have been sitting on someone’s desk next to a bologna sandwich (of course, that would never happen, but you get my point)? How can I (or any of the museum staff) find the magic after being subjected to the dirty, imperfect process of production?
Thankfully, somehow, I can. Even after getting the inside scoop on production, I am happy to say that I still feel small inside a museum. I still feel that there is something intangible and mysterious about what that place represents. I can’t say why, but I’m just glad that I do. And what’s even more amazing is that Andrew does too. The passion, skill and creativity of the staff are something to be admired. To think that they had only one year to produce this exhibit after 10 years of research, that is pretty magical in itself.
So if you ever find yourself needing to feel inspired, try standing in that great hall of the Field Museum. It’s hard not to feel something when you have 2 giant elephants and a tyrannosaurus rex staring you in the face.