Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Natural History at the National University

A deer and jaguar at the National University's Natural History Museum.
Think of Bogotá's National University and graffiti, radical politics - and maybe even education - come to mind.

From the Animal Bodies exhibit,
this friendly dog. 
But the university's sprawling campus in the Teusaquillo district, known as the Ciudad Universitaria, contains several museums which are worth a visit, especially as part of a look at of the campus's leftist politics, as expressed in its colorful graffiti and frequent demonstrations.

From the Zoom exhibit,
a fern frond uncurls. 
One of those museums, which also include an art museum, a herbarium, even one displaying musical instruments, is the Natural History Museum, which the city might look toward as inspiration for a full-scale museum about Colombia's great human and ecological diversity somewhere in central Bogotá.

As it is, the university's effort is an interesting, if low-budget, museum, which should have particular interest for Bogotá residents (especially if they have kids and do not have queasy stomachs) thanks to its displays about the region's zoological, paleontological and arqueological histories - which receive less than their deserved attention on a continent where the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans and Argentina's dinosaurs hog the show.

Skulls of prehistoric local residents. 
The museum also has temporary and changing associated exhibits, including a current one called 'Animal Bodies' - a zoological version of the famous and grotesque traveling exhibit of preserved human tissues, and another called 'Zoom' of magnified photos of colorful plants and insects.

The National University also has several off-campus museums in Bogotá, including the Claustro de San Agustin, just west of the Casa de Nariño, and the one-time home of martyred politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, in the Teusaquillo neighborhood a few blocks west of the Parque Nacional.

The Zoom photography exhibit is scheduled to run one more week, the Animal Bodies exhibit is scheduled to remain thru the end of March.

A more familiar scene at the National University, the Plaza del Ché.

A 6,000-year-old skeleton from the Tequendama area. 
Ever met an elephant in Bogotá? They used to roam here, as this fossilized skull proves. 
A Zoom image of a flower. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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