Not to jinx it, but I’ve just applied for what may be eastern Iowa’s closest approximation of my dream job (well, one of them. The one that’s not being Frank Bruni, or whoever does this). And not to hedge my bets, but if I don’t get said dream job, I already have a plan. I’m going to live in the Iowa Museum of Natural History.
I’m not saying the NMNH (Smithsonian, in DC) wouldn’t be a bit dreamier. They do, for instance, have a giant African elephant in the foyer, and the full-scale dinosaur exhibit that planted the first seeds of dino-adoration within me, which later blossomed into memorizing every line in “Jurassic Park”. (I do mean Every. Line.) Also, I know exactly where to find an 18 inch video screen that loops an animation on the extinction of trilobites, which has been there at least since I was five. Also, the Hope Diamond.
The AMNH (New York, proved that Pluto wasn’t a planet before NASA) might be even better for three reasons. One, they skipped the foreplay and put dinosaurs in the foyer. This is great, for they seem to have intuited exactly how I will arrange my future house. Two, since it lacks the Smithsonian’s hollowed-out central axis, from which every exhibition room radiates, it’s much easier to get lost. The elevators never come and some staircases lead to nowhere, which is certainly annoying if you’re a visitor but not if you’re a stowaway. Three, it’s right on Central Park.
It’s true, the Iowa museum isn’t so much with the dinosaur skeletons or the taxidermic elephants (though it does overlook the quad lawn). But they know everything about ancient Iowa. For instance, it used to be a giant ocean, which is why there are so many fish fossils including Dunkleosteus, an armed fish as large as a school bus with the one of the most powerful bites in the ancient world. Another big creature: Rusty, giant sloth and the museum’s unofficial mascot, nine feet tall from head to tail and nineteen around, who they dress up for Halloween parties. Seriously. They love their sloths.
Anyway, I bet you don’t know that horses actually evolved in the Americas, or that Native Americans used to make beads out of porcupine quills before the Europeans arrived, or a bunch of other things I didn’t know either until my mini-tour this afternoon.
But soon I’ll know all the secrets, because if I don’t get the dream job then I’m going to be a (stowaway, unpaid) docent for dozens of kiddies. And that will be lovely, too.