Thursday, December 2, 2010

Behind the Scenes at a Museum

I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, thanks to my membership in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. From dung beetles to crazy spiders, oily polar bear remains to advances in preservation and flesh eating beetles, the time we spent was amazing, and only a fraction of what there was to see. Our tour guide was very gracious, gave us some extra time, and barely flinched when we questioned him about how he would dispose of human remains.

Did you know that only .2 percent of what the museum has catalogued is on public display? POINT 2. Sheeshkabobalino.

What struck me even more was the passion and energy and pure academia these guys employ. Excitement over a trip to the Congo (and I'm sort of making this part up, but only a little) was equal to the excitement over the research being done regarding two types of insects on chipmunks. The enormous level of character and dedication made me want to begin writing another story using these wonderful academicians and researchers as models. Totally not boring.

Here's a lesson for writers: When you have the opportunity to get out from behind your desk and actually stretch into another world, do it.

My husband is a lifelong learner. There is little more intriguing to him than exposure to something that creates depth to our humanity. A new factoid. A new realm. A new layer reflecting the amazing endeavors of mankind. As writers, we should always be ready to seek out these elements. They will only add depth to our stories.

Have you ventured out in the name of research or writing?

CR: House Rules by Jodi Picoult.

It's all better with friends.


  1. This may sound truly weird, but I love dung beetles. Saw a piece on The Discovery Channel umpty ump years ago about the critters and had to admire their energy and sense of vision. What a pile of dung for their offspring to enjoy.

  2. In that case Karen, I'm very proud to tell you (assuming I've remembered correctly) that the Denver museum has the largest dung beetle collection west of Chicago.

    And yeah, it is kind of weird. But apparently you're not alone.