Monday, February 9, 2015

Morning at the "Mah-zoom"

We live in the state capitol and our house is a short few minute drive from the actual capitol grounds.  in addition to the actual capitol, the grounds include many other headquarters including the DOT (everyone's favorite), the state library, several gardens and statues, the governor's house and the historical society and heritage center and museum. 
I last visited the heritage center in 8th grade, during a class trip to Bismarck with our ND History teacher.  We were sooo excited for that trip and I'm sure the teacher and parent chaperones were too.  Because travelling with a bunch of middle school students is such a blast I'm sure. 
Since 2011 there have been major additions and renovations going on at the heritage center and it finally opened recently.  So yesterday, we decided to check it out.  With a one and a two year old.  Yeah, I don't know what we were thinking either.  But I knew there were lots of dinosaur bones there and also some bison so we got Ben excited by telling him he would see those things.  He ran with it, talking about how he was going to see dinosaurs, bison, and elephants (?).  The best part was how he pronounced "museum" which was is "mah-zoom".
This "mah-zoom" features a lot of science exhibits detailing ND's pre-historic days as a hot and steamy swamp similar to the Florida Everglades and the glacial Lake Agassiz that cut the flat farmland of the Red River Valley. (The town I grew up in is on the beach of the lake! Everyone says it and I saw it on a map!)  There have been bones of many strange prehistoric creatures discovered under the fields of ND including aquatic animals and it is quite fascinating although hard to fathom. 
Ben got to see lots of dinosaur skeletons (mostly replicas with the real bones displayed in cases) and also fish, birds and weird prehistoric bison and deer related species that are long gone.  There was even a mammoth so he actually did get to see an elephant. 

Here he is with the "mommy and daddy and baby bisons"!

In addition to the nature related exhibits there were many more modern exhibits about the energy industry, railroads, education and agriculture. 
There was even a modern tractor cab with the wheels removed so kids could sit in the driver's seat and drive in a stimulated field on a screen. 
Although the visit was fun, Justin and I agreed we both could have spent a lot more time reading all the plaques and smaller exhibits if we weren't busy wrangling children.  For example, did you know that in the 1930s the Works Progress Administration established a ceramics project that employed people to collect clay and create dishes and other ceramics like doll heads, figurines and decorative ND themed plaques to used in public institutions like hospitals, libraries, and schools?  I saw the collection and the dishes look kind of like a more delicate version of Fiestaware.  If I had a job with the WPA during the Great Depression I would have liked to be on a ceramics project! I love the way that history has so many specific stories within the major events that we study. 
Ben is still talking about the "mah-zoom" and wants to go back.  I can't believe we didn't go sooner.  It is free and right by our house and there is plenty of space for maneuvering a double stroller around the place. 

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