This river otter greeted us to the mammal diorama section of the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota Campus. The Bell Museum of Natural History contains over 50 dioramas, most of which depict animals of Minnesota in their natural habitat.
I later learned that the painted scenes within many of the dioramas were created by the same artist who painted for the NY City Museum of Natural History, Francis Lee Jaques. After checking out the animals on the lower floor, it was time for a bog walk. The squishy lumps under the “bog grass” rug brought back childhood memories of navigating across mounds of grass through wetlands in Dutchess County, NY. On the upper floor, we passed over a variety of live fig plants. These plants were part of an exhibit showcasing the ongoing tropical rainforest flora research at the Bell Museum. The collection of live fig plants are not the only organisms being researched in collaboration with this University of Minnesota museum. During our August 2013 visit, the results of the following research project were a highlighted museum presentation: Birds & DNA: Biodiversity and Mountain Islands.
Beyond the fig trees, we entered the Touch and See Room and played for over half an hour. We pet beaver, hugged a moose, and scolded a grizzly…’All stuffed, of course! Real skulls, mammal teeth, leg bones, antlers, and rocks were available for all to touch, arrange, identify an draw. We didn’t get a chance to hold a live snake or pet the turtle, but it seemed that every one enjoyed their experience in the “Biosphere for Two.” Everyone should have one of these terrariums so they can pop their head in for mini tropical vacation break.