978-0-312-28039-0 / 0312280394

A Gathering of Wonders: Behind the Scenes at the American Museum of *Natural* History

by Wallace, Joseph

Publisher:St. Martin's Griffin



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About the book:

Founded in 1869 and opened to the public in 1877, the American Museum of Natural History has been both a much-beloved New York institution and an important center of international scientific research in many fields--notably, paleontology, herpetology, ornithology, entomology, botany, and anthropology. The museum's eminence in these and other areas has come from many sources, from generous patrons to death-defying field researchers and patient laboratory workers. It continues to grow, writes Joseph Wallace in this close-up view of the work of the museum and its staff, as the AMNH involves itself in such matters as the conservation of Komodo dragons, the genetic study of unisex lizards, the surprisingly controversial classification (or, better, reclassification) of the world's birds, and the cataloguing of artifacts of lost species and cultures.

As visitors tour the halls of the museum, taking in images of Siberian shamans and Texas dinosaurs and countless other wonders, they will find many of these points mentioned in the placards that accompany each exhibit. Joseph Wallace's book can be thought of as a set of learned, highly readable footnotes to these placards--a fine companion for a tour, to be sure, but also a lively survey of the many sciences that enter into that great institution's work. --Gregory McNamee

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