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The Home Monthly

by Willa Cather.

From The Home Monthly, 6 (March 1897):  1-4.
Photograph of the Carnegie Museum.

The Carnegie Museum.

WHEN Andrew Carnegie presented to the City of Pittsburgh the magnificent building which bears his name, beside his liberal gifts to the music hall and library proper he set aside the sum of one million dollars for the purpose of building up an art gallery and museum in that building for the use of the people of Pittsburgh. The income from this endowment amounts to fifty thousand dollars a year. Of this ten thousand is deposited as a sinking fund for the enlargement and improvement of the building, and the remaining forty thousand is divided between the art gallery and the museum as the committee appointed by Mr. Carnegie sees fit. This endowment was the foundation and raison d'etre of the museum.

In October, 1895, the museum was placed under the direction of the Academy of Sciences and Arts, the late Professor Guttenberg taking charge of it. The sudden death of Mr. Guttenberg, in November of the same year, for the time completely disarranged the plans for the museum; but in May, 1896, it was placed in the hands of the committee then in charge, with Mr. Gerodette as chairman. With characteristic good judgment he appointed as Curator Mr. Herbert H. Smith, a man whose name is well known both in letters and science, and whose attainments are as varied as his scholarship is profound. When Mr. Smith arrived in Pittsburgh he brought with him his own valuable South American collections, the results of twelve years' life and study in the tropics, and with these he proceeded to fill up the empty cases. He found, on his arrival, little more than a heterogeneous collection of unclassified objects grouped in no particular order in cases quite insufficient for their protection. The first thing Mr. Smith did was to procure good cases, as this smoke-impregnated atmosphere renders them highly necessary. His effort was to get the collections properly grouped and named, and have the museum ready for inspection on Founder's Day.

The most remarkable feature about the museum from the first, has been the live interest displayed in it by people who are in no way connected with it, and who are not directly engaged in scientific pursuits. Loan collections come in from every quarter. Among these is an exceedingly rare collection of ancient and modern glassware exhibited by Mr. G. A. Macbeth; a fine collection of weapons, ornaments, canes and figurines collected by Mr. G. A. Hanna in his wanderings in the East; a collection of enthmological specimens, skins, etc., from Australia, loaned by Mr. E. K. Morse; a collection of native birds donated by the Sportsmen's Association.

Among the best collections is a very large one of beetles made by a glass-blower of this city. By collecting many duplicates of all the native species and carrying on an extensive system of exchanges, this gentleman has got together and mounted a very large and really valuable collection. This is only one of the many instances demonstrating the interest in scientific matters felt by the workingmen of this city which Photograph of Gustave Guttenberg.GUSTAVE GUTTENBERG, the First Curator. has long sought for such an outlet and opportunity for development as the Carnegie museum affords.

Probably the most valuable collection there, is the Knyvett collection of Indian moths, one of the largest and most complete in the world, which was used by Sir George Hampson in the preparation of his entomological classic, "The Moths and Butterflies of British India." Mr. Carnegie purchased this collection in London and presented it to Dr. Holland, who very generously gave it to the museum. Many of the specimens are of such size and beauty that people with no knowledge of entomology whatever cannot fail to find them interesting; and those who care nothing for the Latin names must at least admire the gorgeous coloring of those hundreds of brilliant wings. Besides the Knyvett collection the museum now exhibits some 5,000 species of insects and 25, 000 specimens.

The conchological exhibit now contains 3,500 species and 15,000 specimans, nearly all families being represented. The museum has purchased Mr. Smith's extensive collection of land shells from South America and marine shells dredged by him from the waters about the West Indies. Shortly after his arrival Mr. Smith purchased from Ward casts of some of the large fossil vertebrates, the originals of which are in the British museum. The giant megatherium and octopus stand in the large exhibition room as a sort of standing reception committee.

The most important acquisitions of the Carnegie museum, however, are not the collections now in hand, but the broad and scholarly men who have been chosen to direct its future. The committee is made up as follows: C. C. Mellor, Chairman; John A. Brashear, Samuel H. Church, Josiah Cohen, Mayor H. P. Ford, William N. Frew, Rev. W. J. Holland and Rev. A. A. Lambing.

Doctor Holland's many scholarly attainments and the versatility of his talents are so well known here and elsewhere that comment upon them by one of the laity would seem superfluous if not impertinent. All scientists will recognize the good fortune of the museum in securing the servics of a man descended from a scholarly line and from his youth distinuished in the affairs of science. Mr. Church, the treasurer needs no introduction to the reading public. His work on Oliver Cromwell is standard. Mr. Brashear's name has long been prominent in every scientific movement here. As for Mr. Mellor, if Pittsburgh ever has had a "patron of the arts and sciences," it has one in him. His sympathies are so broad and so sincere that one scarcely knows just where to place him. His music house on Fifth avenue is half the time a perfect menagerie of freaks. It is recognized as headquarters for long-haired musicians, dishevelled painters, preoccupied scientists, perplexed librarians, and the folk of that despised sect of journalism who have no particular characteristics except, perhaps, a need for the welcome and encouragement they are sure to find there. He seeems to have adopted the motto of the North American Review and Trojans and Tyrians alike lead their prancing hobbies in among his Chickerings and Krakauers. He has a heart big enough to sympathize with any one who has a spark of ambition in any laudable direction whatsoever, and the great puzzle to each of his friends is how the man manages to find time to interest himself in all the others.

Mr. Herbert H. Smith has very often in his life evinced his fortunate adaptability to almost every manner of place and combination of circumstances. From his naturalistic studies he has not excluded the genus homo, and he is prepared to give the people what they want. He came here expecting to build up a strictly scientific museum; but a little investigation of the conditions of society about him convinced him that a popular museum is what is needed, and he is laying all his plans toward that end. His object is to bring the museum in touch with the people, and to so arrange the exhibits that the observer may derive as much information as possible by mere use of his eyes, without reference to books. In a recent communication to the local press he stated at length his opinions in regard to this method of object teaching. For instance, rather than purchse a costly collectiion of glassware, it is his plan to have a minature glass factory and show on a small scale the process of manufacture up to the finished product. From such an exhibit the most casual observer will get a very considerable knowledge of the manufacture of glass. He intends to carry out this plan in the natural history exhibits, and have many of the specimens so mounted that at a glance any one will understand something of their mode of life. The group of orang-utangs from Borneo are mounted in this way. Also the beautiful case of Loggerhead shrikes. The female bird is on her nest in a thorn bush. The thorns are full of dead insects and field mice hung there by the male to attract other birds. When they arrive he will swoop down from the branch where he watches and tear the intruders to pieces. To arrange a museum in this manner, of course, requires unusual tact and skill; but Mr. Smith is very fortunate in that there are two of him, his wife being quite as enthusiastic a naturalist as he himself. Mr. George Atkins has also proved a most valuable assistant in arranging the exhibits as well as in many other matters of a more strictly scientific nature.

The Carnegie museum has not only a fallow field to work, but one in which there is absolutely no competition. Probably three years ago Pittsburgh was the only city of its size and affluence in the country that was without a museum. Many of the people seem not even now to comprehend the proper province of such an institution, and the Curator is daily besieged by offers of the weapons of noted criminals, suicides, etc., which belong more properly to Mr. Harry Davis' line of business. But the interest that all classes have shown in the museum demonstrates how hungry the people of Pittsburgh were for one. During the time of the art exhibit the visitors at the museum averaged 1,000 a day, as large an attendance as that of the National museum at Washington. On Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, when the workingmen turned out in full force, the attendance ran as high as 10,000.

The people have taken hold of the museum and claimed it for their own. The various departments of the public schools often visit it in a body. Letters for information are constantly coming in from the various public schools within a radius of two Photograph of Herbert H. Smith.HERBERT H. SMITH, the Present Curator. hundred miles. Arrangements have been made that professors may lecture to their classes there, the cases being opened and the specimens are taken out for them. In- stances of the interest the young people here have long felt in natural history are constantly coming up. One young man, Mr. D. A. Atkinson, a student of the Western University of Pennsylvania, has loaned a complete collection of the birds of Allegheny county, all skillfully mounted and correctly classified by himself. The label attached to this collection was also written by him, and is one of the most full and comprehensive in the museum. As soon as the museum was fairly started the Curator was delighted by the visits of numerous small boys and girls to get help in naming and preserving their little private collections. Almost every day some child came with a cigar-box of shells or a few bird skins, and asked for information about them. This gave the Curator a new plan to bring the museum still nearer to the people and extend its usefulness. So, through the efforts of Mr. Smith and Mr. Atkins, the Andrew Carnegie Naturalists' Club was founded. It at first consisted of ten charter members and now numbers over forty. The boys have their own constitution, by-laws and officers, and work as earnestly as though the scientific advancement of the future rested on their small shoulders—perhaps, in some degree, it does. The boys meet every Saturday afternoon in one of the rooms of the building that has been fitted up for their purposes and discuss their work during the week. There they keep their collections and specimens in cases provided for them, and Mr. Smith and Mr. Atkins give them talks on the habits and nature of their specimens, and assist them to name and preserve them. Why, if the museum did no other work than instil into these lads that love of all that breathes and blooms, that is one of the finest attributes of manhood, it would yield ample honor to its founder and the community. To build up the scientific tastes of a community it is necessary to begin at the beginning, with the children. When this generation of boys has grown to manhood a very different feeling will pervade Pittsburgh in regard to natural history.

Noting the interest of the schools in the museum, the committee recently offered a number of cash prizes for the best descriptive letters written on the museum by the pupils of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. To further illustrate how close this museum comes to the common people, and that it may he useful and interesting even to a schoolboy, I will quote at length from the production of Fordham N. Orr, which was awarded the first prize:

"The museum occupies six large rooms in the library building. Three of these rooms Photograph of the skeleton of the giant megatherium.THE SKELETON OF THE GIANT MEGATHERIUM. are on the second, and three on the third floor. The main entrance is on the second floor, from the hallway or corridor which connects the museum and art gallery.

"Upon going in at this door the objects most likely to attract the visitor's attention are several large casts of animal skeletons. These casts are so accurately made that one supposes them to be original bones until he reads accompanying descriptions.

"The largest skeleton represented is that of a gigantic beast called the megatherium, which is supposed to have been a huge ground sloth. Near it is a cast of the remains of an immense armadillo, calaled a glyptodon. Skeletons of large anteliluvian animals belonging to the lizard family are also represented at other parts of the room. At the side opposite the entrance is a cast of a mastodon's skull with tusks ten feet long. The largest elephants of to-day would look small if they could be compared to the huge beasts possessing heads like this one.

Five orang-outangs, four old ones and a young one, have been stuffed and grouped in a life-like manner near the megatherium. These and a large stuffed Florida alligator are the only animals of the present time which are represented here.

"Near the mastodon's head are four large glass cases containing a classified collection of geological specimens. Most of these were collected by the late Gustave Guttenberg, professor of biology in the Pittsburgh High School, and former Curator of the museum. This collection is one of the many evidences of his careful and intelligent perserverance as a naturalist, and constitutes a lasting monument to his memory. Part of the first case contains a classified collection of the minerals of Allegheny county. The beauaty and peculiarity of some of these stones from our own locality is surprising. One specimen called 'Angel's tear' contisists of a transparent spherical crystal adhering to a piece of smooth, dark brown stone. On the other side of the same case are some Brazilian specimens collected by Mr. Scaife. The Photograph of the group of stuffed orang-outangs.THE GROUP OF ORANG-OUTANGS FROM BORNEO. rest of the stones in this case, and nearly all those in the other cases are of Prof. Guttenberg's collection. Among them are some beautiful quartz and selenite crystals, and amethyst, opal and topaz specimens, as they occur in nature.

"Near the door is a tall glass case containing two suits of armor and two mummy cases. The painted characters on the latter, although thousands of years old, still retain their freshness and brillancy of color. The secret of this painting is a lost art. One of the suits of armor is a reproduction of a suit used by Henry IV. of Navarre, the other is like one which belonged to Ferdinand, Archduke of Tyrol. We regard these body-fortresses as useless and cumbersome, but there was a time when men thought differently. King Arthur voiced the spirit of his time when he said, "Armor is heavy, yet it is a proud burden, and man standeth straight in it." (Apparently a man could not stand otherwise in such equipment).

"Entering the room to the left, the visitor sees that it is devoted almost entirely to zoology. Along the right side of the room are glass cases containing shells of all descriptions, some of them being remarkably beautiful in form and color. All are classified.

"At one end of this room are several cases containing skeletons of man, and several of the lower animals. Most of our domestic animals are represented here. Skeletons of reptiles, such as the python, rattlesnake, frog and iguana occupy most of one section. All of these skeletons are prepared with a great deal of care and nicety, so that the observer does not experience any disagreeable sensations. Casts showing the exact sizes and shapes of skulls belonging to people of different races are exhibited near by. It is interesting to notice the relations these skulls bear to each other in size and form.

"In one corner of this department is a collection of crabs, starfish, lizards, snakes and other animals preserved in alcohol. When one looks at them he involuntarily wonders how those copperheads and rattlesnakes were caught. This collection was prepared by the Naturalists of Pittsburgh High School.

"The collection of birds is a very interesting one. Perhaps the most noteworthy group is that of several birds of paradise. Photographs of the Special Committee of the Museum.C. C. Mellor, Chairman. Dr. W. J. Holland. John A. Brashear. Samuel H. Church.
Near the door stands a tall case containing mounted specimens of ducks, geese and swans.

"The walls of this room are hung with frames in which pressed plants are displayed. As the visitor goes out of the door he sees over it a large, spider-like Japanese crab.

"The room to the right of the first one entered presents a very different appearance. In large glass cases two beautiful models of the American Line steamships Southwark and Paris are exhibited. These models, which are about six feet in length, are exact miniature reproductions of two large ocean steamers. Even the ropes and machinery on the decks are reproduced in detail. Near by is a boat of another character. It is a rude Indian "dugout" canoe, made by charring and scraping a log into the shape desired.

"Skeletons and relics from the recently opened mound at McKee's Rocks are displayed in two cases. Whatever doubts he has previously entertained, the mere sight of these bones and relics is sufficient to convince the visitor that they are genuine and very old. One of the skeletons is that of a tall man, evidently a chief, for whose burial the mound is supposed to have been built. The other skeleton, a woman's, was found buried in a sitting position, and surrounded by a wall of flat stones. Stone spades, axes, pestles and a great number of arrowheads were among the relics taken from the mound. Photographs taken at various stages of the opening of the mound are placed in the cases, and help greatly to show the nature of the work which was carried on.

"In another case a collection of curiosities from India, Hindustan and Ceylon is displayed. These are most remarkable, either for their oddity, or the minuteness of the work upon them.

"Leaving this room by a door opposite the one through which he entered, the visitor may go upstairs to the other part of the museum. At the head of the stairs is the forestry exhibit, containing specimens of wood from foreign and domestic trees.

"In the first room commercial products, such as tin, copper, lead, aluminum and asbestos are shown in various forms. Relief maps placed on tables illustrate various regions of the western part of the United States.

"The most instructive exhibit in the room is one showing the entire process of making an engraving for illustrative purposes. The entire subject is made clear, from the preparation of the box-wood block to receive a photographic impression until a finished proof is taken from the copper plate used in printing.

"On one side of the door which opens into the second room is a collection of Chinese coins and of advertising coins and medals made in this country. On the other side of the door may be seen the various "sands" through which the drill passes in boring an oil well. Near by is a case containing imitations of the famous diamonds of the world. These enable one to get an excellent idea of the beauty and size of the original stones.

"The second room is devoted to antiquities and archæology. An interesting series of impressions taken from famous inscriptions, such as the Rosetta Stone, the Moabite Stone, the Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer and the Deluge Tablet are shown along the walls. These stones are the means by which modern men have obtained a knowledge of some dead languages. The Rosetta Stone, for instance, bore an inscription of a decree which was issued at the coronation of Ptolemy Epiphanes. It was cut upon the stone in Greek, cursive Egyptian and hieroglyphic, so that with their knowledge of Greek students could decide the meaning Photograph of a case of loggerhead shrikes.A CASE OF LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES. of the other characters. In the case of some of the other inscriptions it was the same. The Deluge Tablet is a Chaldean account of the flood in Noah's time.

"Most of the cases in this room contain collections of arrowheads, ax-heads, and other relics of the Mound Builders. One collection consists entirely of bowls, none of which are of other than the most crude shapes. One case contains a collection of implements of war, reigion and domestic use from Alaska, the South Sea Islands, Paraguay and Brazil. Upon time walls illustrations of Algonquin pictorial writings are shown upon a long strip of muslin.

"A model of the homes of the Cliff Dwellers and one of Montezuma's well stand upon tables at each side of the door which opens into the first room.

"The third and last room upon this floor is devoted entirely to the collection of insects made by Dr. W. J. Holland and Messrs. Klages and Smith. The Klages collection, comprising seventy-four cases, which are placed around the edge of the room, is by far the largest exhibited. In the seventy-four cases there are about twelve thousand mounted insects.

"Of Dr. Holland's collection that has made him so famous as an etomologist only part is exhibited here. Most of the specimens are, however, very remarkable. The beetle-like bugs shown in two of the cases are most formidable in appearance. Some of them are so large that it seems queer to call them insects.

"The butterflies in both collections are exceeding beautiful. Some possess wings upon which the most curious and brightly colored patterns appear to have been painted. The colorings of some of these are often very strikingly contrasted. Some others possess wings of a changeable bluish-green which is wonderful to see.

"The sizes of these butterflies and moths are as remarkable as their coloring. Some are so small that they cannot be mounted upon pins, while others are so large that only a few can be placed in one case. The tops of the wings of one butterfly are nearly ten inches apart. In the middle cases near the door a collection of galls on oak and other leaves is shown. In the same cases may be seen cocoons, egg cases, and other relics of the insects. Two cases at each side of the door contain the homes built by wasps. One case displays those constructed by the solitary wasp, and the other those made by the social wasp. One of the last things I noticed before leaving the room was a stick in one of the cases upon which was an ant that had been killed by a fungus.

"Although I have written a very long letter, there is much more which might be said. If you care for a good knowledge of Carnegie Museum, now open to the people, come and make it a visit."