Saturday, January 2, 2010

Indiana State Museum

The Indiana State Museum was my holiday visit and will be my opening post for the new year of 2010.  Happy new year everyone, I hope it brings you good health and new found knowledge.

I enjoyed my visit to the museum located at 650 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana.  My visit was mostly to see the geology and palentology exhibits but the museum is so much more.  It is segmented into 11 core galleries, changing exhibits gallery, two art galleries, two food venues, a two story gift shop, a theater, auditorium, and IMAX theater.  Most of my time was spent on the first level in the two galleries called "Birth of the Earth" and "Ancient Seas" along with the R.B. Annis Naturalist's Lab.

The "Birth of the Earth" gallery features three meteorites (Barringer Crater, Arizona; Campo del Cielo meteorite, Argentina) on display along with a rock brought back from the moon.  It has a number of plaques describing the different geological periods.  A Gneiss metamorphic rock that is over 3 billion years old found in Slave Province, Canada is on display. A seismograph demo is available where you can jump on the floor and generate waves it will detect and display on a real time display.  Core samples from the 1.1-1.5 billion year old Indiana basement rock are shown.  Various examples rocks (e.g. granite, siltstone, dolomite, sandstone, limestone, shale) found in the state are placed for visitors to study.

They have a nice stromatolite examples showing some polished rocks of these oxygen producing creatures from billions of years ago.  I am not sure the location of where the displayed fossils were found, there was a picture of modern day creatures found in Australia.  The display text explained that originally the rock showed bands of mud and calcium carbonate produced by cyanobacteria.  The stromatolites produced oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis banded iron layers appeared as the oxygen oxidized the metal to produce rust.

Large transparent tubes in the area that transitioned to the Indiana fossils.  The tubes contained minerals found in Indiana (calcite, quartz, dolomite, marcasite, galena, pyrite, fluorite,sphalerite, limonite, selenite, goethite, aragonite).

Interesting, the museum began in 1862 with a collection of minerals of State Librarian R. Deloss Brown. The building I was in was not started till 2002 and now they only display 2-3 percent of the entire collection.

More in another post about the fossil sections.  One last observation, they must have a Barbie doll collection because the dolls in various attire show up in the exhibits from time to time.  I did not see a note in the guide paper/map about it.


Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed your visit to the museum! FYI we do have a large Barbie collection, which is showcased in this month's "themed gallery search"; its a good way to get families to learn more throughout the museum. Next month, you'll find Lincoln busts...
Did you find the fossilated shark vomit while you were on the 1st floor?

Fossil Detective said...

Thanks for the comment.

I plan to return to the museum in the near future. It is a great place to explore and learn new things about Indiana and its past.

Thanks for explaining why the Barbies were through out the exhibits.

I did see the shark fossils that you refer to. I was hoping to see a Cladoselache Devonian Period shark fossil. They are found in the shale of Ohio and was wondering if one had been found yet in the New Albany Shale in southern Indiana.