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No.235 (5/10/13)

Mammal Exhibition at Aomori Museum of Art 90 stuffed mammals and structured skeletons from all over the world

By Chiho Tsukiashi
Staff Writer

Honestly, I didn't expect much from The Mammal Exhibition in Aomori before I visited there. The reason I decided to go was that it had been advertised daily on TV and it seemed to be a big exhibit. Since the museum opened in 2006, I have not missed any major exhibitions. I was sure this would not be as exciting as a zoo; however, my preconceptions were completely wrong. I wholeheartedly enjoyed walking around with my excited three-year-old daughter. Her eyes were wide open and full of amazement through every exhibit. Visitors from all generations come to the museum for the exhibits, but this exhibition seemed to gather more children than the others that I had visited before. Another great perk to The Mammal Exhibit is that you are allowed to take photos of many, although not all, of the exhibits. Make sure to look for signs before taking out a camera. If you are not sure, ask “Shashin o tottemo iidesuka?” to nearby staff.

W.E. Yoshimoto (1909 - 2004) was a Japanese-Hawaiian entrepreneur who spent his life focusing on the importance of nature and his collection of stuffed animals were donated to The Yoshimoto Collection of National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, in 1997. His work is viewed as a high quality, scientifically important collection because it reveals mammals' evolution, body structures, and their interesting life. A number of zoological specimen, which belong mainly to The National Museum, have been delivered to Aomori. This special exhibition is aimed to publicize the importance of living harmoniously with wonderful, diverse mammals on this planet.

In the first room, you see a variety of exotic animals under bright lights. They include a zebra, panda, pigmy hippo, okapi, and diverse goats with horns in unique shapes. Even at the zoo, you cannot see so many different species together so closely. One of the animals that intrigued many visitors was the leopon, half lion and half leopard, The leopon does not exist in nature, instead the leopon on exhibit was created through artificial insemination and lived in Japan.

Many structured skeletons are shown as well. An African elephant's skeleton stood in the middle of one of the enormous halls, exhibiting how large each bone is. The fangs which would be too heavy to assemble, were substituted with realistic light plastic replicas. Another equally impressing exhibit was the skeleton of the little monkey. It looks just like a miniature version of a human being. A long tail is the only thing that seems to tell them apart from us.

In a same hall, many people were taking photos in front of a stuffed brown bear and polar bear, standing on their hind paws as if they were attaching people in front of them. The size of the polar bear is especially astonishing.

As we walked through the museum, my little girl was scared to walk down the dark hall behind the African Elephant. She wasn't frightened by the darkness alone, but by the whale sounds emanating from the hall. After a little convincing, we proceeded through the hall to a room full of sea mammals. She learned a lot of interesting facts like how the whale is a mammal, not a fish. She also learned just how large it actually was, by looking at its jaw and she was also amazed by touching the whale's teeth. In this room, you could also smell ambergris, an intestinal calculus from a whale used as perfume. In mid-April, there will be a picture panel of a life-size blue whale (about 25m) in front of the museum. You can climb its back and take photos.

The last room is dedicated for mammals in danger of extinction. This is a very powerful sentiment and helps convey an extremely important message to us so we conserve and restore nature all over the world. This is an excellent place to teach children about their actions and about the effects on animal life.

If you have extra time with your children, it is fun to visit a playroom. There are lots of artistic toys such as uniquely shaped blocks, crayons, and handmade stamps. There is also a souvenir shop for this special exhibit with figurines, T-shirts and more. This exhibition is an excellent way to spend an afternoon and teach your children about the important messages the mammals can teach us.

Period: Now through June 9 (Sun)
Hours till May 31: 9:30 through 17:00, gate open till 16:30
Hours from June 1: 9:30 through 18:00, gate open till 17:30
Closed: Second Mondays
Admission: 1,400 yen for adult, 600 yen for 3 year olds to high school students, and under 3 year olds are free.

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