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Planet Earth

Closets of Curiosities

Two L.A. science museums reveal that a lot of the good stuff will never be seen.

By Joseph DAgneseOctober 1, 1999 5:00 AM

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Deep in the bellies of the nation's science museums lurk mountains of treasure full of old tales. They dangle in darkened warehouses, huddle in basements, chill in industrial freezers. These are the hidden wonders museum visitors rarely see: trays of dried butterflies (some tattered, others perfectly intact), telescopes missing lenses, ivory dolls, mounted moose heads reeking of pesticide, space suits lacking gloves, delicate toe bones of Ice Age mice. The artifacts seem to bide their time, waiting for the fanciful day that moves them front and center.

Full text of this article appears in Discover magazine.

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Richard Ross's workThe California Science CenterThe Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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