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I’ve always loved museums, especially natural history museums, but I’ve never managed to spend as much time wandering through them as I’d like. Fortunately, I recently discovered Shelf Life, a wonderful series of videos from the American Museum of Natural History. The web page bills it as “opening doors, pulling out drawers, and taking the lids off some of the incredible, rarely-seen items in the American Museum of Natural History” — from what I’ve seen, it’s sort of a backstage look at the museum. It’s a good reminder that museums don’t just serve to educate the public; they are also important research centers and the collections they curate are are an invaluable resource. The episodes are bite-sized; each lasts just a few minutes — long enough to tell you some interesting things, but not so long that you have to make time for it. Unfortunately, there’s only one episode per month. I’ve embedded the first three episodes, but be sure to check out the Shelf Life webpage if you’re interested in more.

Episode 1: 33 Million Things

Episode 2: Turtles and Taxonomy

Episode 3: Six Ways to Prepare A Coelocanth

The fourth episode, “Skull of the Olinguito”, airs on February 17th. The blurb sounds intriguing:

Ninety years after it was collected, Mammal #66753 was finally recognized as a new species. This is the tale of one specimen’s journey from obscurity to scientific treasure.

I’m looking forward to it!