Artifacts of Wonder
Since the Science Center’s reopening this summer, Artifacts of Wonder has been an exciting way for members and guests to cap off a visit as they exit through the Boeing Exhibition Hall. This curated display from the Science Center’s Collections features more than 40 items highlighting some of the most incredible pieces amassed over nearly 160 years, with some dating back to when the Science Center existed as the Academy of Science of St. Louis.
“Most visitors don’t know how varied and awe-inspiring our Collections really are,” says Kristina Hampton, collections manager at the Science Center. “Artifacts of Wonder gave us the opportunity to showcase our amazing Collections by displaying a sample of objects from the major categories in Collections.”
With items ranging from zoology and earth sciences to medical technology and space sciences, there’s something for everyone. Kristina recommends the archaeological and ethnological artifacts— “It is simply astounding,” she says, “to think that human hands crafted [some of] these objects more than a thousand years ago.”—as well as real parts from inside a Gemini spacecraft. The exhibit features some rarely seen (and in some cases, never-before-seen) items. “More than half of the artifacts have not been displayed during my time here,” Kristina says, “and some of [the items new to Collections] have never been displayed.”
With more than 100,000 items in Collections, Kristina started by selecting a handful of larger objects that aren’t often able to be displayed because of their size. “I was also looking for artifacts that would grab people’s attention,” Kristina says. “What would make someone stop and stare? What artifact would make someone’s jaw drop because of its size, detail, age, beauty or origin? What could we display that guests may have never seen in person before?”
Ultimately, Kristina hopes that Artifacts of Wonder will “evoke a sense of wonder and awe for the viewer, grab their attention and inspire them to stop and take a closer look as soon as they step in.”
This winter, guests of the Science Center will have something new to experience inside the iconic McDonnell Planetarium. Seasons Greetings, a brand new live star show developed by the Planetarium team, explores the nature of our seasons and how the winter solstice continues to influence our modern celebrations.
Will Snyder, manager of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, wants audiences “to understand the science behind our seasons, why the solstices and
equinoxes are significant and how this science findsits way into many of the holidays we still commemorate today.” The show also explores why the winter solstice is a pivotal time for many cultures and offers tips for viewing the best celestial sights of the winter season.
Seasons Greetings will be offered from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and Will says, “We hope this show provides our members and guests a new way to incorporate the Planetarium into their seasonal celebrations.” In the northern hemisphere the winter solstice is literally the darkest time of the year, yet cultures throughout history have managed to make it a time of celebration.
“2020 has been a difficult year for many people,” Will says. “Our hope is that Seasons Greetings will allow people the opportunity to safely come together and remember that there is always something beautiful to see by simply looking up.”