Adventures in the ATL: Fernbank Museum of Natural History

The real purpose of our Atlanta trip, the destination we planned our entire trip around, was the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Jonathan and I had been years ago before we even had children. I remembered it being one of the premier hands-on museums of its kind at that time. That was about 13 years ago, before there was a hands-on children’s museum in every major city. Fernbank’s differentiator (is that a word?) is that it is a natural history museum, as opposed to the science museums in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Chattanooga that are near us. A natural history museum focuses on fossils and other archaeological finds in a particular area.
The dinosaur was tremendous! I mean, I knew dinosaurs were big, but I’d just forgotten how BIG they really were. My girl is a mere speck under his tall belly!
Fernbank has a big room full of hands-on science demonstrations, and that’s where MA had the most fun. She loves trying out the exhibits, and she inevitably asks me how it works. Honestly, being a homeschooling parent makes me feel completely inadequate to answer all of her curiosities. And I paid attention in science class. I really did! She’s a curious girl, and so we spend a lot of time on the internet researching how things operate. We have worked hard to teach her how to learn things on her own, so I guess it’s paying off. It’s the small victories, people!
There was a really interesting section in Fernbank called Reflections of Culture. It was all about the garments and adornments that are worn by different groups. They discussed how different symbols or articles of clothing display status, nationality, royalty, occupation, etc. It was quite an interesting showing of the ends that many cultures, ours included, go to in order to identify themselves with a particular group. You can really tell a lot about people by the clothing or jewelry they wear.
The clothing was beautiful and intricately designed. The jewelry was striking and posh. The silks were immaculate. The uniforms crisp. The photos of the people were like it must be in heaven. Although MA and I both found the exhibit interesting and very educational, it left me with a sinking feeling. As I stood there, I was so overwhelmed by the fact that UNIVERSALLY, we try so hard to identify with groups who are cool, socially acceptable, fun, more envied. It’s not a new struggle. Civilizations have for centuries focused more on their outward adornments than on what is really important. It is no different today than it was for first-century Christians.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
That was the most important lesson we learned at Fernbank.

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