The Field Museum was established by two important people as our docent also explained

The Field Museum was established by two important people as our docent also explained, in 1893 Edward Ayer reached out to Marshall Field, a wealthy businessman to get him to contribute to its establishment (Britt 10/8/18). Marshall Field agreed to donate $1 million to help establish the museum, they were able to get collections of exhibits with the contribution and open the museum (Field Museum “The Field Museum History”). It was created for the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, the anniversary of Columbus arriving to the America’s. This huge event held about 25 million people and served as an expo for historic purposes. The name of the Museum was originally the Columbian Museum and was changed to Field Museum in 1905. The Field Museum was originally in the Palace of Fine Arts in Jackson Park. It was rebuilt and now houses the Museum of Science and Industry. The location was moved to Grant Park in 1921 along with all the exhibits. (Field Museum “Timeline”)
The collections are mostly from the Columbian Exposition or from exhibitions. These collections continued to outgrow the space as our docent explained. The museum’s main theme is Natural History and in 1945 the museum transitioned from a sort of stable setting where objects were just sitting there as storage to a research location. Additionally, some other purposes are to present exhibits such as species and plants as presentations and preservations of collections. The museum does have a specific organization; it has four exhibit categories. They are anthropology, botany, geology and zoology (Britt 10/8/18). The museum has a well organized exhibit but it would be more helpful to have them laid out so that the exhibits that are closer to each other in time are also closer to each other like a timeline. Although some exhibits do represent this like the hominin section in Evolving Planet, and the mass extinction by the dinosaurs, some have a sort of random layout, like the ancient Americas, it was organized by section of the Americas, it was a walk through of different topics which I believe was complex.
The Evolving Planet Exhibit consists of a walkthrough of different species and eras like the mass extinction of dinosaurs followed by some semi dark sections and then the hominins. After walking through half of the exhibit, I arrived in the room filled with dinosaurs and thought I was lost but then I realized hominins came after dinosaurs so we walked into another section consisting of life after mass extinction until finally arriving to the hominins exhibit. The exhibit consisted of hominin skull, skeletal remains, and toolkits, some are replicas and some are fossils. The objects were most likely chosen to represent each species or object as accurately as possible to show people the differences that arise between different species or different types of uses for objects. One of the skeletal remains is an australopithecus hominin and it shows the structure of the body from the neck down, incompletely and an incomplete skull, some may think this is not very useful for researchers however, the remains show that the australopithecene was a very robust specimen, it had a shorter stature compared to humans as well. There are various ways visitors could interact with the exhibits. One of the most useful one’s for me was looking at the way evolutionary changes were presented for different traits. For instance the evolution of the toolkit presented the tools in a very sophisticated way, showing how they evolved over time from simple sharp stones to tools used for hunting or constructing (Evolving Planet). Another feature that provided interaction was the “Bigger Brains” section consisting of the cube measurement object beside each brain. The Australopithecus afarensis had a smaller brain, the Homo Erectus had a larger brain and modern humans have the largest brain. I thought it was a helpful to show this change in brains because it explains the evolution in toolmaking as well. There was a board in the exhibit that described what makes a hominin. It basically said hominins evolved from apes, and over time we have developed language culture and larger brains that make us different. According to lecture, humans are also bipedal and have foot arches which permit us to be endurance runners (Klein 9/27/18). This exhibit fits into Anthropology because it describes the process of evolution, how different species of hominins are different from apes and how they are different by developed features.
The Looking at Ourselves exhibit was across from the Evolutionary planet exhibit and it was much different from what I expected. I expected to see another hominin exhibit on the biological aspects of homo sapiens, I was close as the exhibit is on humans. It consisted of different statues by Malvina Hoffman. According to the touchscreen toolt, the statues were made in the 1930s to depict the idea that humans are divided into different races and each race behaves differently (Looking at Ourselves). Upon reading this I began to think that this was not a fact but rather an opinion. I continued reading and it also said that scientists have refuted this idea as behavior is based on the enviornment and distinct beliefs. The exhibit provided not only the representation of racial differences but also biological differences of the makeup of different people. It closed in the 1960s and reopened in 2016. The sculptures show the physical and behavioral differences between people of different races. The “Ni Palog and her brother I Regog from Bali, Indonesia” was one of the most interesting sculptures. It depicted a scene that I could imagine coming to life. The woman, Ni Palog, was standing with a fruit basket over her head with what I suppose to be her brother I Regog, standing next to her. They are watching what seems to be a Rooster Fight. This is interesting because I have seen this in Mexico before so I found it surprising that this happens in Indonesia. Another sculpture that seems to stand out is the Congo River woman with the device in her lips. It made me wonder if is was some sort of piercing but apparently it was a disk in her mouth. So I saw various different cultural practices and facial features of people from different races. This exhibit fits into Anthropology by showing that cultural differences in behaviors are explained by different cultures and societies. It shows people from all around the world, how their facial features and behaviors are different, but experts refute this. Unlike the Evolving Planet exhibit, experts who critiqued Hoffman’s work argue that our behavior is not explained by our biological differences whereas Evolving Planet shows how different hominins develop different behaviors along with different physical traits. In general, the exhibit could use some more sculptures or maybe even paintings or photographs of cultures. Some context would be helpful in the video like what was the original purpose of the exhibit, also what major changes have been made over time.
Lastly, the Ancient Americas exhibit was very interestingly set up. It was constructed as a walkthrough beginning with an introduction followed by Ice Age Americans. Hunters and gatherers, farming villages, powerful leaders, Rulers and citizens, empires, and living descendents. It had a large quantity of objects and provided life size representations of shelters of Ancient Americans as well as sculptures, pottery, agriculture, and tools. These objects were chosen to represent the basic set up of life in the Ancient Americas, the types of things in their houses and the representation of what it was like to be a ruler and to live in empires. Some of the best interaction I got from this exhibit was actually the walk through of the shelters. I saw animal skins probably used for clothing, cloths, maize and tools for grounding, pottery and baskets. I really felt like I was going back in time to this way of life in this exhibit. The walls had murals or art pieces depicitng scenes of empires of Ancient Americas. There were families working together to gather resources and a video said that this way of life was difficult and sometimes unsanitary. There was also a section about discovering the plants and animal products came from innovation of the Americas and there were buttons that you would press to learn about different objects like maize or squash. Unlike the Evolving Planet and Looking at Ourselves, this exhibit focused on society and cultural aspects of Ancient Americas not on physical aspects of indiviudals. This exhibit included context on diets and pottery, similar to the Evolving Planet exhibit with the teeth representation of diets and toolkits. This exhibit is saying that developing as a culture is a significant role in human development. This exhibit fits into anthropology by explaining the different way of living and how the empire functioned in it’s own way with it’s own cultural development. A textbook or website could not provide the experience I felt in this walkthrough, the sound effects and life size representations of living arrangements made me feel like I was living with these Ancient American civilizations.
When I walked into the Evolving Planet exhibit, the first thing I saw was the life sized replica of Lucy, the Australopithecus Gracile, Australopithecus Afarensis so I took a selfie. I examined my selfie which consisted of bad lighting, but I immediately noticed some huge differences between myself and Lucy, which is the first hominin I examined. The Australopithecus Afarensis lived in Ethiopia and Africa 5.3-1.8 million years ago. As you can see in the photo above, this hominin was one of the most different compared to us Homo Sapiens. First, the brain size and the tooth size are two distinctive factors. Their brain were typically smaller than the Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens. They also had a less prognathic face compared to apes (Klein 10/2/18). Their teeth consisted of a U-shaped dental arcade and large molars and premolars thought to be an adaptation for their diet. As a result this trait is most likely driven by natural selection, their teeth adapted to the diet that was most available which would help them survive. These hominins most likely lived in grasslands, as you can imagine, where they found food like plants, seeds and nuts (Klein 10/2/18).
Another hominin I examined was the Homo Ergaster, Homo Erectus which lived in Africa and Kenya 1.8-0.4 mya. As you may imagine this hominin was quite different compared to the Australopithecus Africanus. According to lecture, it was generally bigger in body size, had a long thick skull with small chewing muscles and smaller teeth, and bigger brain (klein 10/4/18). Compared to A. Afarensis, H. Ergaster, H. Erectus had a bigger brain and slightly bigger skull as I noticed from comparing Lucy to Turkana Boy (image 2). According to the exhibit, they were the first hominins to leave Africa then appearing in Asia (Evolving Planet). H. Erectus also had smaller teeth meaning they most likely ate meat unlike A. Afarensis. Another new development this hominin had was it’s adaptation to life on the ground completely. From this evidence, we can assume that these changes were the result of Natural Selection taking place. They probably needed to hunt to survive and had to adapt to life on the ground as well as change their diet to include meat. Their increased use of tool use was also another reason why they became hunters.
The last species I examined was Homo Neanderthalenisis, Homo Sapien. This hominin was slightly more human like and lived in Europe 400,000-30,000 years ago. They most likely lived during severely cold climates hence their stockier build. As the docent told me, Neanderthalensis lineage split from the Homo Sapien lineage around 200,000 years ago, but we did interbreed with them (Britt 10/8/18). Additionally, it is important to remember that we lived with them and not evolved from them. All hominins branched off from chimpanzee primates over a million years ago.They are different from Homo Sapiens in the way that they have a stockier build. According to the exhibit, Neanderthals had larger brains, almost the size of Homo Sapiens (Evolving Planet). Our docent explained to me that they had smaller teeth compared to humans meaning they were primarily meat eaters but had a large diet of vegetables and other foods (Britt 10/8/18). With this evidence, I can assume that the evolutionary force behind their stockier build, teeth size and brain size was natural selection. They lived during cold climates when plants became less abundant and they were forced to resort to meat.
In conclusion, the Field Museum provided a better understanding about the branches of hominins, how they are considered our neighbors and although us modern humans may seem different from these hominins that I discussed, there are extraordinary similarities. The exhibits showed skulls of different hominins such as the Australopihecus Gracile, and Australopithecus Robust showing that the saggital crest in the Robust male and no crest in the Gracile. The museum in general provided information and replicas/fossils of the hominin teeth and skull which I compared to one another. It also provided objects that represented each hominin in the Evolving Planet or culture in the Ancient Americas. Although my visit was good, there are some disadvantages to the way some exhibits are set up like I mentioned before the Ancient Americas was set up in sections not by timeline. Some advantages are that for research, you may get all the information you need in one section. Some advantages in the Looking at Ourselves exhibit are the way some sculptures really catch your attention and show the differences in cultural practices and physical features of different races. However they could add more information on the importance of each sculpture because people may want to use information for research. Unlike classroom learning, you get interaction with the exhibits, you get to talk with people who have worked there for years and it’s interesting to learn how we are actually different from our hominin neighbors.