Readers’ wildlife photos

January 13, 2023 • 8:15 am

Bruce Cochrane introduces us to the sights in some little known New York museums. His narrative is indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Continuing on with sights worth visiting in the Finger Lakes region, there are three museums that are well worth a visit.

The Corning Museum of Glass is the home to a world-renowned collection of glass and glass art, dating back about 3500 years.  These are a few pieces with animal themes.

The Blaschka Collection of Glass Invertebrates Includes some of my favorite pieces, including the cephalopod below (ID help appreciated).  Other collections of Leopold Blaschka’s work can be found at Cornell and Harvard.

Glass Cephalopod:

Other pieces from the collection:

A crystal canid, exhibited in the spectacular new Contemporary Art and design wing, completed in 2015. The outer walls are made of translucent glass, so the light balance on the interior is excellent for photography.

A dipteran:

Next stop is the Museum of the Earth near Ithaca.  I have a personal connection to it – its director is Warren Allmon, a Ph. D. student of Steven Jay Gould and a former colleague and friend of mine at the University of South Florida.  In about 1992, The Paleontological Research Institute, the home of the collection of a retired Cornell geologist, lured Warren away from USF to try to make something of this extensive collection.  The result was the Museum, which opened in 2003.  It is a great place to travel through geological time, starting with the Cambrian and proceeding to the present. The exhibit rooms are separated based on mass extinction events.

The entryway is a ramp showing off paintings by Barbara Page depicting geological history. My wife and I purchased the naming rights to these two panels, depicting the fish Dapidium politum and its prey,  the ammonite  Psilocerus planorbus.  These are from ~200 million years ago, around the Jurassic/Triassic boundary.

A signature of the museum is the “Hyde Park Mastodon” (Mammut americanum), which was discovered when a pond in Hyde Park NY was dredged. Ever the opportunist, Warren assembled a group to work on excavating it, and over the summer and fall of 2000, they excavated what turned out to be one of the most complete mastodon skeletons ever unearthed.

Finally, another opportunity arose when the Museum of Natural History underwent major renovations and had to relocate Steggy the Stegosaurus, a paper mache model dating back to the St. Louis World’s fair in 1904.  It was shipped to the Museum in three pieces, where it was reassembled to become part of a permanent display.

Dr. Allmon and I watching the assembly go forward

The final display:

Last but not least (at least for the WEIT audience) is the Robert G, Ingersoll Museum in Dresden NY.  It is the birthplace of Ingersoll, and includes a lot of Ingersoll-related history and culture, including two Edison recordings of his original orations.

Ingersoll birthplace from the outside.

Busts of the great man:

Finally, I can’t resist including some roadside displays.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus):

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis):

16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I loved visiting the Corning museum. When I was there a few years ago, there was an exhibit close by of the history of microscopy which was fascinating as well. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where it was located or if it was a permanent exhibit. If it is still there it is very much worth a visit.

  2. I don’t usually say/write this, but :


    [ astonished ]…

    Harvard’s glass flowers are another such thing – you think “yeah, ok, glass flowers, big whoop”

    Utterly astonishing!

    1. That is one of the places I’d very much like to visit, as I’ve heard the skill and artistry is amazing.

      1. The glass flowers themselves are only _part_ of how astonishing it is – “artistry” is a word to use, yes, but I’d pick something like “precision”, “exquisite skill”, … because the products are scientific teaching tools – because it was so hard to preserve the biological material – from the.. what, turn of the 19th century?

        But I don’t want to spoil anything 🙂

    2. Yes, I love the glass flower collection, and I was surprised to see the Blaschka cephalopod picture above because I never knew they did any animals.

      I also appreciate your mention of the crystal Star Wars foxes! That was one of my favorite parts of the movie, but I did not make the connection to the picture of the beautiful crystal canid. (After googling around to learn more about that one, I believe that it’s actually a lynx.)

    1. They are pretty impressive.
      A sub-set of the collection was on display in a gallery the last-but-several time I was in London – a place round the corner from the US embassy – which we just happened onto on the way to somewhere else. The Blaschka exhibition was much more memorable than whatever we had been on our way to.

  3. I’m surprised to see the vertical spikes sticking out of the mammoth’s spinal column. It looks as if they should have had some kind of crest; I guess they actually had more of a hump. The spikes also look like a vulnerability.

  4. You have inspired me to travel up that way again! The Finger Lakes region is fabulous on its own scenic merits. All these places, then I can go on to Cooperstown.

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