Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Natural History Museum

Today (Wednesday) the kids and I went to what was one of my favorite places when I was a child: the Natural History Mueseum of San Marcos University. The museum was founded in 1918 and houses a collection of natural history specimens primarily focused on Peruvian fauna.

The museum is around the corner from the Hospital Edgardo Rebagliatti Martins, where I was born back when it was still the Hospital del Empleado, and from the Social Security Institute. On the way I was amused to see that a building that was begun back in the 1970s is still not finished. This time, however, unlike the suspended animation of other years, they seem to have accepted that it won't be finished and removed the cranes and other accoutrements indicative of work.

At the museum itself, there are some new installations, but old specimens I saw in my youth -which were mouldering even then- are still there, much to my delight.

Most of the specimens seem to have been donated to the museum or gathered ad hoc, and were not stuffed or mounted according to what would be considered good museum, or even good taxidermic standards today. Sometimes, specially with the mammals, the results can be quite amusing.

The bird collection, though somewhat faded by time, is still quite impressive and better prepared than other areas.

There are some new exhibits centered on cetaceans and prehistoric life which are much better done, and are quite impressive and interesting. One particularly cool exhibit involves life-sized models of Peruvian dinosaurs which extend clear out of the rooms that house them, their tails protruding into adjoining halls and passageways.

I'm not sure which looks scarier, the dinosaur or the children...

Afterwards, because Susana had been asking to go to a chifa (Chinese restaurant), we walked to the Restaurante Royal, on Ave. Prescott a couple of blocks from San Felipe, for the lunch buffet.

The service was great, and the food good. Not great, but good. However, both Susana and Nico were very happy - Susana said she felt "like a lady" because the waiters pulled out her chair for her and helped with her coat- and the dessert selection met with aproval all around.

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