“Inspiring curiosity through exploration”, this is the mission statement of the Buffalo Museum of Science. On a recent trip to Buffalo, NY we had the good fortune to visit and were floored by the quality of the exhibits. Housed in a beautiful building on the edge of a Frederick Olmstead designed park, it’s collections feature the Western New York State and Greater Niagara Regions. It is awesome! Now, one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever heard about Lori’s photographs and the models that precede them is they look to be crafted with love. That would definitely apply to the dioramas and displays featured at this museum. I’m not sure when they were created but they did have a lovely handcrafted feel about them. The dioramas were in small-ish rooms, divided into different regions. The cases were against the walls with a flat roof that allowed for larger animals to be displayed. All of the cases were of a dark wood with brass hardware. Simple and beautiful.
I think the fact that the museum has a regional slant is to it’s benefit. It allows them to really focus on a few things and emphasize the design and craftsmanship of each diorama. I really enjoyed the play of scale and unusual contexts they set up. The skeleton of a mouse sitting on a vertebrae of a dinosaur, hysterical! The “tree condo” is a floor to ceiling display showcasing all it’s inhabitants from bugs at the roots to owls at the top of the tree. One of my favorites was the nocturnal diorama featured everything that ever gave me the creeps at night. Ok, maybe not the moth.
It is really hard for me not to gush over these things. The care that was taken with every aspect was amazing. The backgrounds were painted very well. The animals and scenery were dynamic and thoughtful. Many of the animal poses were things I hadn’t seen before. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a snake snatching a frog mid jump. A passel (group) of oppossums teetering on a skinny branch. Close inspection of the dioramas rewarded the viewer with great little details that might otherwise go unnoticed. One very large display showed four very small fish as they swam beneath some floating plants. Beautifully backlit, it was an exercise in silhouettes. But, if you looked closely among the plants you saw another dozen different varieties of fish and animals.
I admit, I’m a little tired of all the interactive displays you see in so many museums. To me it just means it will be broken soon, and for a long time. I loved the simplicity and straightforward design of these things. They also had a lot of humor. Accompanying each diorama was an information panel giving you more detail about what you were seeing. They were so funny! These simple, but very well executed, line drawings/cartoons added a whole new dimension to each piece.
So if you can’t tell by now I’m a huge fan of this place. I highly recommend it. If you are ever in Buffalo, give it a chance.