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Museum of the North (with more whales!) 

Fairbanks is fortunate to have the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the UAF Museum of the North. They are, at least is some ways, truly world-class facilities. The museum is a treasure to have in such a relatively small and isolated community, and we go there often. Both boys, but especially Jacob, really love it.

Jacob recently decided that the museum did not have enough whales in the collection, and so he wanted to donate some of his drawings. Stephanie called the museum and asked for whoever was in charge of the permanent collection. She found Mareca Guthrie, the Fine Arts Collections Manager, and an exceedingly gracious agent of the museum, who was willing to accept his drawings. Not into the permanent collection, of course, but just to accept them from Jacob.

On Monday, I left work and picked up Jacob from home, and we drove together to the museum. On the way, I told him we were going to meet a nice lady who was going to accept his drawings, but that she might not know what they were, and he would have to tell her about his drawings and explain them. We announced our arrival at the front desk, and Mareca came right out. He presented her with his two drawings, and as she took them, he immediately began to talk about the drawings and to explain the features in each. I was glad to see him interact so well.

After he had a chance to tell her about his drawings, we took a couple of pictures of them together, and it was obvious that he was very proud. Mareca then offered to give us a quick tour of the research labs. She said that the paleontologist on staff was working with a full ichthyosaur skeleton, and would we like to see it? She asked Jacob if he knew what an ichthyosaur was, and he said “Yeah. It’s kind of like a plesiosaur.” And she was impressed. “Yes, it’s a marine reptile,” she said.

When we got down to the lab, the ichthyosaur was unavailable, but we did go into the dinosaur lab where there were a few partial skulls and a lab assistant working. I pointed out the skulls and asked Jacob what he thought they might be. “Well this one looks kind of like a bird, so it’s a velociraptor maybe. This one [with the pronounced frill] looks like a protoceratops.” And seeing a partial bony plate he says, “Ooo! Pachycephalosaurus!” At that point I looked up at the lab assistant, and saw her mouth literally fall open in slack-jawed disbelief when she heard him list those names. He picked up on the clues he saw and made some educated guesses, and I think he was pretty close, if not spot on.  

Leaving the museum, he looked up at me and flashed one of those rare, completely unselfconscious, mile-wide grins he gives when he is really delighted by something. From there we went to lunch together at Taco Bell for his favorite meat and cheese tacos. It was a great outing together. It’s a joy just to watch him and see him interact with the world. 

Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 11:43AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | Comments3 Comments

Reader Comments (3)

Your mother-in-law shared this story with me. Pretty impressive and amazing. I have felt that feeling of pride you must have had at that moment. Good for you... and him.
March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreg Reeves
Wonderful post! It's fun to discover your blog- I recently shifted to a more rural lifestyle as well- but not quite as dramatic as your move! Best wishes, Maria (a friend of Mareca)
March 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
Your photos are spectacular and as necessary to me as the air I breathe. However, it's your words that paint the true event for me ~ I feel as if I were standing there seeing it all for myself. Thanks for the story. Love, Mom
March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLizabeth Marr (Mom)

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