Sunday, 26 December 2010

#41 A Kwanzaa cash-in has no place in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

Below is an unedited version of a note I just sent to the American Museum of Natural History. The Museum's wonderful Milstein Hall of Ocean Life - which forms a major part of probably the best life sciences collection in the world - was almost entirely obstructed on 26th December by temporary stalls coinciding with the Kwanzaa festival. It was the gallery I was most excited about seeing - I don't know if I'll have another chance - so I was fairly upset.

Notably, this closure was not clearly indicated on the Museum's website, nor was it explained at admission.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I attended the Museum on 26th December 2010. Being a biological sciences graduate, I was particularly excited about visiting the Ocean Life room.

However, most of the area was blocked off by temporary erections for Kwanzaa. This would have been acceptable, except that these erections weren't exhibits - rather, they were commercial stalls. No warning was given at the front desk when purchasing tickets that a whole hall of biosciences exhibits were closed off. And would the African Peoples gallery not have been a better location for Kwanzaa-related stalls?

I love the museum dearly, and think the collections are wonderfully curated. To close them off for commercial purposes is an affront to the educational purpose of the Museum.

I am copying this note to my blog, at

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Yours sincerely,

Samuel Palin

Why have I copied this here? Partly to publicise what I believe to be a very poor curatorial decision, and partly to highlight a distinctly British form of complaint: the strongly-worded letter.

Anyway, if you're with me, please tell the AMNH through their online email system.

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