WBEZ | Field Museum http://www.wbez.org/tags/field-museum Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Field Museum show examines the body as a machine http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-show-examines-body-machine-109836 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mantis shrimp.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new exhibit opening Wednesday at Chicago&rsquo;s Field Museum looks at how animal and human bodies alike function using nature&#39;s equivalent of pumps and springs.</p><p>Visitors to the show will learn how a tiny fox&rsquo;s ears work like air conditioning, why a mantis shrimp&rsquo;s spring mechanism makes it the &ldquo;hardest puncher in the animal kingdom,&rdquo; and how a giraffe&rsquo;s heart pumps blood all the way up its long neck to its brain&nbsp; (The short answer? Apparently giraffes have astonishingly high blood pressure.)</p><p>Scientists who study insects, birds and other creatures to understand these mechanisms, are finding human applications such as Velcro and artificial legs for runners.</p><p>For a sneak peek at the exhibit, listen above to my audio tour with the Field Museum&rsquo;s Marie Georg.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporter covering religion, culture and science. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a></em></p></p> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-show-examines-body-machine-109836 Field Museum exhibit reveals surprise motivation behind World's Fair http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-exhibit-reveals-surprise-motivation-behind-worlds-fair-109006 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Palace of Arts and Lagoon.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The World&rsquo;s Columbian Exposition of 1893 put Chicago on the international map, with wonders like a giant Ferris wheel, electric fans and pavilions designed by the world&rsquo;s first &lsquo;starchitect&rsquo; Daniel Burnham.</p><blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank"><strong>Curious City: What was it like to be a visitor at the 1893 World&#39;s Fair?</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>That World&rsquo;s Fair has attained almost mythical proportions in Chicago. Just 22 years after the Great Fire, the White City rose on the South Side. Visitors could experience wonders of the modern world at the end of the 19th century, and countries from across the globe, eager to export to the United States, brought their specialties.</p><p>Then the successful fair came to a close. The Columbian Museum of Chicago, as the Field was originally called, grew up as a place to preserve over 50,000 objects from the pavilions and cultural villages.</p><p>Christine Niezgoda, the Field&rsquo;s collections manager in botany, said the Fair was a grand setting for something that would seem familiar today.</p><p>&ldquo;People forget this was also a trade show,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s right, she called the World&rsquo;s Fair ... a trade show. To hear why, click on the audio above.</p><p><em>The Field Museum&rsquo;s exhibit, &ldquo;Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World&rsquo;s Fair,&rdquo; which showcases fair artifacts and explores the museum&rsquo;s connection to that historic time, begins Friday, Oct. 25.</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-exhibit-reveals-surprise-motivation-behind-worlds-fair-109006 Morning Shift: Revisiting the past and envisioning the future http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-25/morning-shift-revisiting-past-and-envisioning-future <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1893 Flickr Boston Public Library.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look back at an important moment in Chicago&#39;s history: World&rsquo;s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Plus, comedian Alonzo Bodden finds the humor in headline news.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-revisiting-the-past-and-envisioning/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-revisiting-the-past-and-envisioning.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-revisiting-the-past-and-envisioning" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Revisiting the past and envisioning the future" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 08:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-25/morning-shift-revisiting-past-and-envisioning-future Your ticket to the White City http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ferris%20wheel%202.jpg" style="height: 222px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The Ferris wheel at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. (Library of Congress)" />The Field Museum unveils a <a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/happening/exhibits/opening-vaults-wonders-1893-worlds-fair" target="_blank">new exhibit this week</a> about the 1893 Columbian Exposition.</p><p>The World&rsquo;s Fair was held in Chicago&rsquo;s Jackson Park and&mdash;for six ballyhooed months&mdash;brought together ancient cultures, cutting-edge technology and a Ferris wheel that makes Navy Pier&rsquo;s look pint-sized in comparison.</p><p>It was a monumental feat for the growing metropolis, made even more impressive by the fact that the city was just two decades past the infamous and <a href="http://www.chicagohs.org/history/fire.html" target="_blank">devastating fire</a>.</p><p>Millions of travelers who flocked to Chicago for the Fair were faced with the stark juxtaposition of architect Daniel Burnham&rsquo;s White City and the soot-stained, crime-ridden urban environment beyond the fairgrounds.</p><p>Curious Citizen Michael Dotson wanted a more complete picture of what the Exposition was like for someone who bought one of the 27 million tickets sold, so he asked two fair-related questions. We couldn&rsquo;t resist this one:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was it like to be a visitor at the 1893 World&rsquo;s Fair?</em></p><p>The bestselling nonfiction book <em><a href="http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/devilinthewhitecity/home.html" target="_blank">The Devil in the White City</a></em> offers a vivid portrait of the Fair from the perspective of two men: the aforementioned <a href="http://www.pbs.org/programs/make-no-little-plans/" target="_blank">Daniel Burnham</a> and the <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/hh-holmes-307622" target="_blank">serial killer H.H. Holmes</a>.</p><p>But to help us understand what a day at the Fair was like for people who weren&rsquo;t building cities or elaborate death traps, we used a different book: <em><a href="http://chicagobydayandnight.com/" target="_blank">Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker&rsquo;s Guide to the Paris of the America</a></em>.</p><p>Think of it as Lonely Planet circa 1892. The travel guide&rsquo;s anonymous author (likely <em>authors</em>) provides a detailed look at Chicago&rsquo;s architecture and entertainment options. It contains plenty of boosterism, but also some frank advice about avoiding con artists and adventuresses (women well-practiced in charming a man out of his wealth).</p><p>An <a href="http://archive.org/details/chicagobydaynigh00vynn" target="_blank">archive</a> of original text of <em>Chicago by Day and Night</em> is available online, but earlier this year Northwestern University Press <a href="http://chicagobydayandnight.com/" target="_blank">published a new version</a> edited by historians Paul Durica and Bill Savage.</p><p><a href="http://chicagobydayandnight.com/bios" target="_blank">These guys</a> know a thing or two about Chicago history and, as you can see in the video above, they&rsquo;re not opposed to donning period garb when it gets people geeked about the city&rsquo;s past. Durica is responsible for the <a href="http://pocketguidetohell.com/" target="_blank">Pocket Guide to Hell</a> historical reenactments and teaches at the University of Chicago. Savage is a senior lecturer at Northwestern University. The duo added a new introduction and notes to the 1892 text.</p><p>For the fullest time travel experience possible, we suggest curling up with some <a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/patc/crackerjack/" target="_blank">Cracker Jack</a> and a <a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/design/2012/11/where-did-pabst-win-that-blue-ribbon/" target="_blank">PBR</a> and reading this 1892 guide for Chicago tourists. Then spend an afternoon strolling through <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-07-02/features/0407020064_1_world-s-fair-science-and-industry-ferris-wheel" target="_blank">Jackson Park</a> and exploring the Field Museum&rsquo;s exhibit of about 1,000 of its <a href="http://archive.fieldmuseum.org/columbianexpo/introduction.asp" target="_blank">massive collection</a> of Exposition artifacts.</p><p>As you do, keep these facts in mind:</p><ul><li>Daily admission to the Fair cost 50 cents, which is the equivalent of the cost of a 3D movie <a href="http://www.westegg.com/inflation/" target="_blank">today</a> (about $12).</li><li>A ride on the Ferris wheel cost 50 cents.</li><li>A night in one of the city&rsquo;s finest hotels cost $5 (about $125 in <a href="http://www.westegg.com/inflation/" target="_blank">modern dollars</a>). In this era, the trendiest accommodations also offered something new to Chicago diners: a prix fixe menu.</li><li>The Fair spanned 686 acres. Disney&rsquo;s Magic Kingdom and Epcot could fit squarely inside.</li><li>Some of the performers in ethnic villages on the Midway got fed up with the Fair&rsquo;s rules, long hours and unreasonable demands. A group of Eskimos, for example, was required to wear traditional fur-lined garb during a Chicago summer. They opened their own shows outside the fairgrounds.</li><li>The massive crowds at the Fair made it a <a href="http://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-1893-chicago-worlds-fair" target="_blank">prime location for premiering and marketing new products</a>. Cracker Jack, Wrigley&rsquo;s Juicy Fruit gum and Cream of Wheat date back to this time.</li><li>Pabst won some awards for its beer at the Fair. But it didn&rsquo;t win a<em> blue</em> ribbon. Contemporary PBR fans ... you&rsquo;re drinking a <a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/design/2012/11/where-did-pabst-win-that-blue-ribbon/" target="_blank">120-year-old lie</a>.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mashup_fair.PNG" style="float: left; height: 411px; width: 620px;" title="This mashup map shows how current attractions such as Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot would fit neatly within the massive fairgrounds. (Courtesy of the Field Museum)" /></li></ul><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">Tricia Bobeda</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/iamandrewgill" target="_blank">Andrew Gill</a> are WBEZ web producers.&nbsp;</em><em>Note: Tricia Bobeda assisted in the production of a website about </em>Chicago by Day and Night<em>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 23 Oct 2013 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994 Sniffing for Chicago’s wild onion http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sniffing-chicago%E2%80%99s-wild-onion-108281 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/topper.jpg" title="Chicago is named after a wild and smelly onion, of which could be any of these varieties: From left, nodding onion, wild leek/ramp and field garlic. They all still grow in the region in prairie land or forested preserves. " /></div><p>What&rsquo;s wild, smelly and leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Chicago.</p><p>Now, before you go grabbing for the pitchforks and torches, know that it&rsquo;s a joke &hellip; about wild onions, that is.</p><p>Yes, Chicago is named after a wild, smelly onion, one that &mdash; more than three centuries ago &mdash; grew in abundance at the mouth of the Chicago River. There were so many that when the first French settlers asked the local Indians what the area was called, they said, &ldquo;Chicagoua,&rdquo; a word for the wild bulb plant, according to Bruce Kraig, president of the Culinary Historians of Chicago.</p><p>Now, cement sidewalks and paved roads cover up the marshlands that once served as home to these onions.</p><p>Like many area residents, Doug Morris of Hinsdale had heard this story before. What he didn&rsquo;t know, though, was whether this was actual history, and he certainly didn&rsquo;t have any idea of what happened since then. So he asked Curious City: &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Does the wild onion for which Chicago got its name still grow in the region? And does it smell bad?</em></p><p>We decided that the only way to get to the bottom of this story was to actually find the wild onion for which Chicago is named. Speculation and hearsay were unacceptable. We needed to see the bulb with our own eyes.</p><p><strong>The search</strong></p><p>Morris, his daughter Libby and I met Doug Taron, curator of biology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, at the Somme Prairie Nature Preserve in the center of Northbrook to look for wild onions.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/onion1.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Libby Morris, front, and her dad Doug Morris follow a trail through the Somme Prairie Nature Preserve in search of wild onions. Doug Morris sparked Curious City’s investigation by asking the question: Does the wild onion for which Chicago was named still grow in the region? (WBEZ/Chelsi Moy) " /></p><p>The thing we knew beforehand (and you should know now) is that onion are part of the allium family. There are many types of alliums, but through a process of elimination, historians and scientists can point to three kinds that grow in the region and which Chicago might be named. Narrowing it down further, however, poses a challenge. &nbsp;</p><p>The three kinds of onions in question include the nodding onion, the wild garlic and the wild leek. The latter is often referred to as the ramp. While it&rsquo;s debatable which onion is named after Chicago, many sources I spoke with for this story say it&rsquo;s the ramp.</p><p>During our excursion in the forest preserve, we were lucky enough to find all three species. The nodding onion was in bloom with it&rsquo;s pinkish-purple flowers beginning to open. The field garlic blooms in the spring and forms tiny bulblets on the tip of the blooming stalk.</p><p>The wild leek is also harvested in the spring.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/onion2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Doug Taron with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum leads a hunt for wild onions through a forest preserve in Northbrook. Chicago is named after a wild onion. Although, no one can say for sure which species of onion it is. (WBEZ/Chelsi Moy) " />On our recent outing, we found the wild leek in a shaded area surrounded by other dense vegetation. At the tip of the plant were starburst-shaped white flowers. These days, ramps are found in wooded areas and are one of the first &ldquo;greens&rdquo; to arrive come spring. It has wide green leaves and a garlic smell.</p><p><strong>The smell factor</strong></p><p>About that aroma. Is it fair to call the ramp stinky? Well, that&rsquo;s debatable.</p><p>&ldquo;It smells like green garlic,&rdquo; Kraig said. &ldquo;It smells pleasantly oniony or garlicky, but it&rsquo;s not overpowering. It smells like a green garlic field.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the smell, ramps are a delicacy in many restaurants in and around Chicago. In fact, over the past five years the local green has become a culinary trend. Chefs such as John DuBois at Green Zebra &mdash; a contemporary vegetarian restaurant &mdash; look forward to their arrival each spring. It&rsquo;s one of the first &ldquo;greens&rdquo; that become available for harvest following the cold winter, he said. He describes it as having a part-garlic, part-oniony taste.</p><p>One way DuBois likes to use ramps is in making pesto. However, the chef and scientists I talked with say that ramps are tasty simply grilled on the BBQ.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Wild%20Onion02%20.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Chelsi Moy)" /></p><p><strong>Where can you find ramps?</strong></p><p>Green Zebra turns to urban forager Dave Odd, who says he harvests ramps sustainably from a private lot about 60 miles outside of Chicago.</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that while the forest preserves in Chicagoland are good places to locate ramps, you&rsquo;re not allowed to pick them &mdash; just as you&rsquo;re not allowed to pick anything there, in fact.</p><p>In the spring you can find ramps at some artisan or high-end grocery stores such as Whole Foods. Otherwise, Odd recommends you ask private property owners with land adjacent to forest preserves for permission to harvest. He says as far as harvesting goes, private property seems to be the only way to pick wild ramps consistently in the region.</p><p>However, Bill Burger, a curator emeritus of botany at the Field Museum, offers another suggestion: Don&rsquo;t pick at all.</p><p>&ldquo;The last thing we need to do is ask a couple million people to go out in the woods and add to their culinary delight,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;&ldquo;Obviously if you pull them up to make a salad out of them then there won&#39;t be any flowers or fruits later on and that&#39;s a good way to send things bye-bye.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Wild%20Onion%20Recipes.jpg" title="" /></div><p><em>Chelsi Moy is a WBEZ intern for Curious City. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/chelsimoy">@chelsimoy</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 02 Aug 2013 19:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sniffing-chicago%E2%80%99s-wild-onion-108281 Field Museum offering early retirement to some curators http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-offering-early-retirement-some-curators-106359 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_allisonmeier.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Field Museum is offering early retirement packages for some of its employees. The museum, best known for its research and Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex, is shouldering a heavy debt burden and has been trying to find ways to cut back.</p><p dir="ltr">Field Museum spokeswoman Nancy O&#39;Shea says the museum is offering retirement packages to more than half of its 27 curators. The 16 eligible employees were selected based on age and the length of their employment with the Field. They have until May 10 of this year to decide if they&#39;ll take the offer or not.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-12/cuts-field-museum-could-diminish-its-international-reputation-104487">The museum announced in December</a> that it was looking for ways to cut $5 million in costs, and boost endowment by $100 million. O&#39;Shea says they&#39;ve already identified ways to trim $2 million from their science initatives without cutting staff, but they&#39;re still looking for another million in cuts. This is the third time in the last five years that retirement incentive offers have been made to Field employees.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">The museum has said in the past they were also considering admission rate hikes as a possible revenue booster, but O&#39;Shea said she has nothing to announce on that topic.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><br /></p> Thu, 28 Mar 2013 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-offering-early-retirement-some-curators-106359 Real life Django: Love’s struggles on the Underground Railroad http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/real-life-django-love%E2%80%99s-struggles-underground-railroad-105560 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/django%20unchained%20AP%20small.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="In Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained,’ freed slave Django, played by Jamie Fox, struggles to reunite with his wife, Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington. (AP/Sony Pictures DAPD)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79402044&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>There&rsquo;s a lot about Quentin Tarantino&rsquo;s Oscar-nominated film <em>Django Unchained</em> that seems, true to the director&rsquo;s well-known dramatic tendencies, somewhat larger than life: The huge personas of do-gooder bounty hunter King Schultz and sadistic slave owner Calvin Candie, for example, or the caricaturist&rsquo;s rendering of the conniving head house slave, Stephen.&nbsp;</p><p>But one crucial element of the film&rsquo;s plot does seem to be drawn from real life: Django&rsquo;s struggle to reunite with his wife, Broomhilda, echoes the lengths slaves would really go to in order to stay with or be reunited with their loved ones.</p><p>Author Betty DeRamus uncovered countless stories of slavery-era couples struggling to be together in the face of incredible adversity while researching her book, <em>Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad</em>. &ldquo;Some of them are black couples, some of them are a free black person with a slave mate, and a few of them are interracial couples,&rdquo; DeRamus said. &ldquo;But they all have one thing in common: All went to extraordinary lengths to avoid being separated.&rdquo;</p><p>There was Joseph Antoine, for example, a free black man from Cuba who chose of life of indentured servitude in order to stay with his wife<strong>. &ldquo;</strong>In the process of working on that [story],&rdquo; DeRamus said, &ldquo;I discovered there were quite a few black Virginians who were willing to surrender freedom because they said the price of freedom was too high; if it meant leaving their families, they&rsquo;d rather not have it. And I had never heard that before.&rdquo;</p><p>Then there was Isaac Berry, the Missouri slave in love with his white neighbor&rsquo;s daughter, Lucy. Berry&rsquo;s owner wanted to sell him to pay off gambling debts, but Berry escaped across the Mississippi River into Illinois, then traveled to Indiana, Michigan, and finally across the Detroit River to Windsor, Canada. Lucy, meanwhile, took the money her family had saved for boarding school and instead bought a train ticket to Detroit, and waited there to meet her beau.</p><p>&ldquo;Remember, there were no cell phones, no Internet, no mass communication of any kind,&rdquo; DeRamus said of this incident, pointing out the extreme difficulty of setting up such a daring and far off rendezvous. &ldquo;One of the most extraordinary things about these couples is the faith that they had. . . that somehow things were going to work out.&rdquo;</p><p>Perhaps the most remarkable story in DeRamus&rsquo; collection is that of John Little, a slave who carried his unconscious wife to freedom on his whip-scarred back. You can hear DeRamus read her account of John Little and his wife in the audio above.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s"><em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em></a>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Betty DeRamus spoke at an event presented by The Field Museum in February of 2006. Click</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/forbidden-fruit-love-stories-underground-railroad"><em>here</em></a><em>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Follow Robin Amer on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 16 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/real-life-django-love%E2%80%99s-struggles-underground-railroad-105560 Cuts at the Field Museum could 'diminish' its international reputation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-12/cuts-field-museum-could-diminish-its-international-reputation-104487 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/5082484946_06749913b6_z.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="The Field Museum's scientific research staff drive its international reputation (flickr/perosha)" /></p><p><em>Updated: 5 p.m.</em></p><p> <iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F71883732"></iframe> Chicago&rsquo;s Field Museum is proposing a significant reduction in its re-operating budget, citing a hefty debt load. That could mean higher prices for patrons.</p><p>The museum hopes to reduce costs by $5 million and organize its scientific research wing, from academic departments like anthropology and zoology to more generic fields of study such as &quot;museum exhibitions.&quot;</p><p>Field President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Lariviere said the museum is feeling the effects of the recession just like any other business or institution. He said administrators will talk with scientists and curators about how to balance the budget.</p><p>&quot;The Field Museum is in really reasonably good shape,&quot; he said. &quot;What we&#39;re trying to do is protect the future of this place by right-sizing ourselves at this moment to balance our budget, get things under control, so that we can ensure that the future includes the same kind of high quality, world-shaping research and discovery that it has in the past.&quot;</p><p>Lariviere said the museum&#39;s current structure is a &quot;vestige&quot; of university organization dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. For instance, the department of geology contains paleontologists, but no geologists.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s really not a rational structure,&quot; he said. &quot;It certainly doesn&#39;t reflect the interdisciplinary nature and the creativity of the science that goes on here.&quot;</p><p>He said that makes it harder to explain to the public about the science and research going on behind the scenes.</p><p>More than 1 million people visit the museum every year, to see blockbuster shows and the Field&#39;s&nbsp;prized possession, a Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue. But the Field&#39;s global reputation comes from its cutting-edge scientific research and conservation effects.</p><p>&quot;Behind the scenes, there is essentially a non-degree granting university that has scientists of all different stripes who travel around the world and make collections and study species and cultures and artifacts,&quot; said Neil Shubin, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago and the former provost of the Field.</p><p>Shubin says the budget cuts and proposed reorganization mean staff cuts. And those will diminish the museum&rsquo;s reputation.</p><p><strong>&quot;</strong>Anytime you see a reorganization like this, it means large staff reductions. I see no way that they can continue the breadth of the research profile that has been one of their, you know, one of the legs of their eminence,&quot; Shubin said.</p><p>The Field says it will develop a new operating plan over the next six months.</p><p><em>An earlier version of this story referred to Sue as a &quot;life-sized model&quot; of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. But Sue&#39;s the real deal!</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 15:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-12/cuts-field-museum-could-diminish-its-international-reputation-104487 Field Museum cutting staff, overhauling operations http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-cutting-staff-overhauling-operations-104468 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/fieldmuseum.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F71883732" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago&#39;s renowned Field Museum, a major center of global scientific research, has announced plans to cut staff, overhaul operations and limit the scope of its research because of a high debt load and the recession.</p><p>The natural history museum might also change hours of operation and raise admission prices for special exhibits at one of the city&#39;s best-known cultural attractions, museum officials said Tuesday.</p><p>The Field Museum is known for its research into plants and animals and impressive collections, including Sue, the world&#39;s largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex.</p><p>The Field&#39;s cost-cutting measures will be an opportunity to refocus the mission of the museum, which was founded in 1893, officials said.</p><p>They hope to cut $5 million in costs and increase the museum&#39;s endowment by $100 million. Museum staff and board members will work on a plan between now and July 1.</p><p>The staff cuts will be aimed at curators and scientists. The museum will also focus more on its own collections and be more selective in choosing outside exhibits that cost more money to organize.</p><p>&quot;If we wrestle these issues to the ground successfully, our future is rosy,&quot; the Field&#39;s president and CEO, Richard Lariviere, told the Chicago Tribune&#39;s editorial board.</p><p>Lariviere, the former University of Oregon president, started work at the museum in October.</p><p>Lariviere said the museum has more $170 million in outstanding bonds. He called that &quot;very high&quot; compared with the institution&#39;s $300 million endowment. The bonds cost the Field more than $7 million a year, taking a bite out of an operating budget of less than $70 million.</p><p>&quot;Our credit cards are maxed out,&quot; Lariviere told the Tribune.</p><p>The Field Museum is one of Chicago&#39;s top tourist attractions, drawing 1.3 million visitors in 2011.</p><p>The cost-cutting plan follows earlier attempts to trim $5 million, also primarily through staff cuts. But rising bond debt and operating deficits over the past decade have combined with flat revenues and dwindling government subsidies to put a financial squeeze on the institution.</p><p>Despite the possible hike in ticket prices, Lariviere said the average patron shouldn&#39;t notice much of a change in the short term.</p></p> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 10:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-cutting-staff-overhauling-operations-104468 Bigger not necessarily better for Big Bird’s ancestors http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/bigger-not-necessarily-better-big-bird%E2%80%99s-ancestors-104149 <p><p>For most of us, Big Bird is about as big as it gets when it comes to our feathered friends.</p><p>But for Peter Makovicky of the Field Museum, Big Bird is small stuff.</p><p>Makovicky is the Curator of Dinosaurs and Chair of the Department of Geology at Chicago&#39;s <a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/" target="_blank">Field Museum of Natural History</a>. He&rsquo;s spent the last few years researching giant bird-like dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period, called theropods. You might know them from Jurassic Park or elementary school coloring books. T-Rex and the infamous velociraptor are both theropods. And in case you missed the memo, scientists now believe <a href="http://phys.org/news/2012-10-canadian-fossils-feathered-dinosaurs-north.html" target="_blank">theropods had feathers</a>. (<a href="http://www.jurassicparkiv.org/" target="_blank">Jurassic Park IV</a>, anyone?)</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6773_Khan-scr.jpg" style="height: 234px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Skeleton of the small oviraptor Khan from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. The short, deep skull bears a parrot like beak. (Field Museum)" />A couple years ago Makovicky and Lindsay Zanno of North Carolina State University did a study showing that <a href="http://phys.org/news/2010-12-meat-eating-dinosaurs-carnivorous.html" target="_blank">many theropods are actually vegetarians</a>. So much for the <a href="http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lh4x81XKTF1qaekpeo1_500.jpg" target="_blank">cruel velociraptor stereotype</a>.</p><p>The pair&rsquo;s latest research focuses on the evolutionary patterns of those fearsome herbivores.</p><p>&ldquo;The research that [we] did was to use dinosaurs to investigate the bigger evolutionary question of how animals become herbivorous,&rdquo; said Makovicky. Scientists had hypothesized that as species&rsquo; evolved to become plant-eaters, their body mass would also grow.</p><p>Big vegetarians not ringing a bell? Step away from <a href="http://www.peta2.com/blog/americas-next-top-vegetarian-model/" target="_blank">America&rsquo;s next top vegetarian model</a> and instead imagine an elephant, or a brachiosaurus, or a snuffaluffagus (not totally real, but <a href="http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/File:BirdandSnuffy.jpg#file" target="_blank">still a relevant example</a>). The broad theory about evolutionary mass and herbivory says that the bigger some herbivores get, the easier it is to take in all those leafy greens.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a lot harder to digest plants than meat,&rdquo; Makovicky explained. &ldquo;You have to intake the plants, and they have to sit in your gut for a long time and ferment for you to get as many calories out of them as from meat. For them to sit in a gut for a longer time, you essentially get a longer and larger gastrointestinal tract.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/005/cache/giraffe_549_600x450.jpg" target="_blank">Precisely</a>.</p><p>But Makovicky&rsquo;s and Zanno&rsquo;s study, published Wednesday in the <a href="http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1751/20122526.abstract" target="_blank"><em>Proceedings of the Royal Society B</em></a>, shows the vegetarians in the bunch did not consistently evolve to get bigger. Or, as the article title states, there is &ldquo;No evidence for directional evolution of body mass in herbivorous theropod dinosaurs.&rdquo;&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6775_PeteInField-scr.jpg" style="height: 313px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="Peter Makovicky digging for dinosaur fossils. (Field Museum)" /></p><p>To find out that such evidence didn&rsquo;t exist, Makovicky and Zanno broke down the evolutionary trees of three different theropods who shifted to plant-based diets during the same time span, about 125 million to 65 million years ago. Evolutionary trees, or phlogenetic trees, are graphs that show the relationships scientists infer between evolving species over a period of time.</p><p>When Makovicky and Zanno analyzed the trees of their chosen theropods, they found that some of the bird-like giants got bigger, others smaller over different periods.</p><p><strong>Chickens of the Cretaceous</strong></p><p>The theropods Makovicky and Zanno studied were no slouches in the looks department. Makovicky called them &ldquo;oddballs.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t look anything like your traditional view of a dinosaur,&rdquo; he said. The egg-thieves (oviraptorosaurs) are often depicted sitting on nests. They had a beak with a sliding jaw joint and a parrot-like head, sometimes with a bulge on top.</p><p>The scythe-lizards (therizinosaurs) were toothless, with a small head atop a long neck and squat body. Unlike the massive flamingos you might be picturing, though, they had thick limbs. And the ostrich-mimics (ornithomimosaurs) have a name that speaks for itself. Think of them as the giant chickens of the Cretaceous age.</p><p>All of these lizardly curios had feathers and are thought to be close relatives of current-day birds, and they lived in China, Mongolia, and what is now western North America.</p><p>Makovicky and Zanno conducted three tests based on the three theropod species, which they selected because all became herbivores during the Cretaceous period.</p><p>The first test showed that overall, the dinos in question got bigger over time. That was was scientists expected, a tendency that would be called &ldquo;directional evolution of body mass.&rdquo;</p><p>But when Zanno and Makovicky did a second test in which they broke down the evolutionary trees of each species and studied the branches of the trees, some of the branches got bigger while others got smaller at different times. That made it seem far less likely that any overall growth was consistently linked to the transition to herbivory.</p><p><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2310676873_e8168d5610%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 373px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="A rendering of a therizinosaur from the early Cretaceous (Flickr/Cryptonaut)" />In their third test, they focused on two theropod lineages that occurred over the same period and in a similar location. That allowed the researchers to observe that the changes in size over time track each other, meaning that when one of the species got smaller, so did the other. The logical conclusion from this observation was that some environmental factor experienced by both species was more important than diet in determining the evolutionary direction of their sizes.</p><p><strong>Bigger is not always better. But why?</strong></p><p>What would make a recent convert to vegetarianism benefit from shrinking?</p><p>Makovicky and Zanno&rsquo;s research can&rsquo;t say for sure. Competition with other dinosaurs could be a factor. For herbivores living around a slew of other herbivore species, there could be advantages to focusing on a specialized dietary niche that larger feathered friends couldn&rsquo;t access. Makovicky also said smaller animals tend to reach maturity and reproduce at earlier ages. When the creatures ended up in environments with less abundant resources, evolving to smaller sizes could have been a way to stabilize the population.</p><p>The simultaneous changes in multiple species from one environment could also result from the nature of the geologic record.</p><p>&ldquo;You might have [geologic] environments that preferentially preserve small things,&rdquo; said Makovicky. The ups and downs in size could reflect shifts in what was mostly likely to be preserved, rather than in the actual sizes of the creatures.</p><p>The layman&rsquo;s take-away from Makovicky and Zanno&rsquo;s research is probably still the Big Bird bottom line: these theropods were huge, and they tended to get ginormous.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s definitely capacity to grow very large as a herbivore, almost as large as a T-Rex,&rdquo; said Makovicky. &rdquo;In some of these environments these animals would have been bigger than any of the carnivores around. But the fact that they are herbivorous alone doesn&rsquo;t explain their body size evolution.&rdquo;</p><p>Some of the biggest specimens were found right at the end of the Cretaceous, which was the era of big dinosaurs in general: &ldquo;Everything got bigger,&rdquo; Makovicky said.</p><p>The environment for everyone - right up until that pesky extinction problem made the news - seems to have turned body mass into an asset. The reason for that grand trend is one of the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/dinosaurs-not-that-big-scientists" target="_blank">big questions dino experts are still struggling to answer</a>.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 18:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/bigger-not-necessarily-better-big-bird%E2%80%99s-ancestors-104149