Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/46

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42
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to earnest study. Adequate moral and financial support are assured by the promotion of a general interest in the museum. The open coun- try is accessible for excursions by various scientific societies. Eambles are a delightful means of leading girls and boys to a knowledge of the treasures of nature in the hills and valleys near their homes. Even in the village, much may be done to relieve the monotony of life and to enrich the intellectual interest — so often mean and meager. As an active educational agency the museum should be in close and sympa- thetic touch with the public schools. Visits of teachers with groups of pupils should be encouraged. With people beyond school age, much may be done by lectures, classes and by scientific organizations. Atten- tion should be directed not merely to the strictly scientific features of natural history, but also to the broader aspects and deeper meanings of nature, whence come sympathy, insight and refreshment of spirit.

As a setting for this work, the museum building should be simple in construction and planned with a view to economical management. Elaborate decoration or architectural effects are not desirable. Money can be expended to better advantage in other ways. Problems of light- ing, construction and arrangement of cases, and the distribution of material call for careful attention. The general color effect and the background for objects are important elements in adding to the at- tractiveness of the collections. Cleanliness, neatness and abundant light are the cardinal virtues of the museum.

An illustration of the possibilities open to a small museum is afforded by the recent development of the Museum of Natural History, in Springfield, Massachusetts. This institution had its beginning in 1859, and was in a measure the result of interest aroused by a meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Springfield that year. At the outset, the museum was placed under the control and care of the City Library Association, and this relation has been maintained ever since to the advantage of both institutions. For many 5'ears but little was done apart from the gathering of specimens, and dependence was in the main placed on contributions from local col- lectors. The result was a large amount of material, not always cor- rectly classified, and decidedly miscellaneous in character. Better quarters were provided in 1871 in the new library liuilding. and the museum was reorganized and brought into close relationship with the scientific department of the high school. In 1895, a commodious and suitable hall was provided for the collections in the Art Museum. The material was carefully classified and arranged for the first time on a systematic basis. With the new facilities, there came a notable increase in activity; public interest was enlisted and large gifts of specimens and money were made. Class-work, lectures and scientific societies were begun. In a few years the museum had outgrown its

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