The first 6 months of 1905 saw two prominent, celebrity-studded, and copiously publicized unveilings of full-size dinosaur exhibits. In February, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York unveiled its Brontosaurus mount; in April, Andrew Carnegie’s donation of a cast of Diplodocus carnegii (his “namesake,” as he liked to call it) was presented to the British Museum in London. As Lukas Rieppel explains in his book, Assembling the Dinosaur, neither the timing, nor the place, nor the form of these events rested on coincidence.
Yeah, I wrote that. It has been out for a while in fact, but I forgot to put it on the blog somehow. Below, I will try to tell a bit more about it. Also, my publishers, University of Pittsburgh Press, posted a Q&A with yours truly at the time of the presentation we did at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. If you don’t need more information and want to order it right away (which I obviously wholeheartedly encourage), this is one place where you might do so. Continue reading Purchase suggestion (wink): American Dinosaur Abroad: A Cultural History of Carnegie’s Plaster Diplodocus
As some of you will know, I spent the last six years working on my PhD thesis about the cultural, scientific, and political influence of Andrew Carnegie’s casts of the dinosaur Diplodocus carnegii (and one Diplodocus longus that Carnegie had nothing to do with) in the first decades of the twentieth century. I shall defend my thesis on Thursday, May 11th (yes, that’s next week). There are plans in motion to publish the book next year. If you’d like to be kept informed about those plans and the book, please leave your e-mail address here.
What is it about, this book? Well, to answer that all-too-obvious question I shall give a summary below.
Museums present their cultural treasures as tangible proof of historical events; robust sources of scientific knowledge and transparent cultural images for the public to identify with. Natural history museums show their fossil relics as incomplete but uncomplicated witnesses of life’s past. Continue reading The Colossal Stranger