Museum guides: 1915-1967

I wish to make a plea in behalf of the educational value of natural history museums.

So wrote Barton Warren Evermann, the Director of the California Academy of Sciences, in the January 1918 issue of Scientific Monthly. Evermann’s article, “Modern Natural History Museums and Their Relation to Public Education”, was 30+ pages of text and photos in support of his plea.

Evermann did not mention the California condor in his article. However, I have acquired original guide books published by 4 museums that do refer to the condor.

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Museum diorama postcards

Until about 25 years ago, opportunities to see California condors were few. The wild population was limited both in numbers and habitat. Not many zoos exhibited California condors and, during the middle decades of the 1900s, it seems no zoo anywhere had condors. By today’s standards, the available photographs and movies were of low quality.

As a consequence, most people who saw condors saw them in museums, as stuffed and mounted specimens in dioramas. The way to remember seeing these dioramas or to share the experience with someone who didn’t visit the museum was to purchase a postcard of the diorama from the museum gift shop.

Here are 6 such postcards.

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