Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Pittsburgh Museum: Post-Natural History

In 1896, Andrew Carnegie established The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which now has one of the best dinosaur skeleton collections in the world. In 1900, Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Technical Schools, now known as Carnegie Mellon University.
Now, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Richard Pell, has opened the first post-natural history museum, the Center for PostNatural History, open every Sunday (12:00 to 6:00 p.m.) or by appointment, at 4913 Penn Avenue in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh. 

A museum of creatures re-engineered by humans

Sara Reardon, reporter

1st-pic-SpecimenVault_Rat.tif.jpg (Image: Center for PostNatural History)
It was once the pastime of gentlemen: collecting curious plant and animal specimens from around the world, displaying them in home or garden and regaling callers with tales of their exotic origins. Nowadays, it seems there’s little new left for us to discover. Humans have penetrated nearly every possible corner of the world. But we are still finding new critters, by making our own: breeding mules, grafting colourful plants and engineering lab mice that glow.
We have, it seems, moved beyond a world of natural history into an era of what Richard Pell, who teaches electronic media at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, calls “postnatural history.” His new museum, the Center for PostNatural History, opened in Pittsburgh last week. With it he endeavours to create a curiosity cabinet from the Anthropocene period - the age of man.
The only criteria for inclusion in Pell’s Wunderkammer are that the organisms have been intentionally altered by humans in a way that would be passed on through generations. Intentionality is the important bit, Pell says; after all, a museum of creatures changed by pollution, nuclear radiation or climate change would be endless.




Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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