Museums appear to be entertaining places that caters to the public’s love of history, art, and antiques. However, they are also places to store, preserve, and study ancient history that is not seen by the public. At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, only about three percent of what the museum owns is displayed at one time. Most artifacts are stored in unmarked warehouses in a commercial district not open to the public. Here, the items are catalogued, kept track of, and studied.

The collections of mammals, conservation, anthropology, and several other categories of artifacts from six of the seven continents (minus Antarctica) are housed in these warehouses. This priceless collection has been growing since Andrew Carnegie opened the museum in 1895. Since then, the museum has been updated with new technology including computer touch screens, animatronics, and other hands-on activities to keep the interest of the modern day visitor. All of the exhibits are kept track of with a numbering system. Once a year, auditors come in with a random list of exhibit numbers to check on.

Anthropology, the study of people and civilizations is one aspect of history that greatly interests researchers. The museum has collected several objects belonging to different tribes. Usually, they are collected with the tribe’s permission. However, in 1899, a fur trader gave the museum a full set of Hopi snake dance regalia used in a diorama and was exhibited for decades. However, the Hopi dance is a sacred ritual that the tribe did not appreciate being displayed when they will not even let Anglos observe the dance. The exhibit was taken down and locked up in 1992 because of this controversy. In saying this, by collecting history from others, the museum has made a history of its own.

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