Natural History

Oslo and Gothenburg: A Tale of Two Natural History Museums

I’ve been to a lot of natural history museums over the years, which is odd, because they’re not necessarily the museums I gravitate to – if I have limited time in a city, I would much rather visit somewhere unique or quirky than go to the type of museum you could see anywhere. But sometimes I just end up there anyway, maybe because they have some type of rare dinosaur bones Marcus wants to see, or a really unusual (usually derpy) piece of taxidermy I can’t miss. This is basically what happened in both Oslo and Gothenburg. I’ll start with Oslo, even though it is the less interesting of the two.

Oslo’s Natural History Museum didn’t look all that enticing, but it was only a short walk away from the Munch Museum through a rather lovely botanical garden, we got in for free anyway with the Oslo Pass (otherwise 120 kr. Yikes, don’t pay that!), and they had a T-Rex (named Stan) that Marcus was keen to see. One of the museum buildings (the geology one) appears to be closed for construction, but we only really cared about the animal building anyway. Stan is in the first gallery when you walk in, just past a staircase lined with one of the most disgusting giant crabs I’ve ever seen (I’ll spare you a photo, but its legs were legit six feet long).

 

The rest of the museum was fairly standard natural history fare, but someone really went to a lot of effort with the tableaux, right down to carefully painting in white bird shit on all the rocks in the scenes featuring birds. There were also buttons you could press throughout to hear the calls of the birds on display, and in general this section felt quite modern compared to what you normally get in a natural history museum, marred only by all the bratty bratty children running amok and fighting each other right in the middle of the museum. I get that Scandinavians are laid-back parents, but c’mon, at least teach your children how to behave in a damn museum. This wasn’t even in a special kids’ section, it was the main gallery, with glass all around. If you’re just visiting Oslo, this museum is not worth a special trip unless you REALLY like natural history, and even then, definitely don’t go if you have to pay full price. 2.5/5.

 

So we’ll leave the Oslo Natural History Museum, and head to Gothenburg’s Naturhistoriska, which is pretty much the archetype of the old fashioned museum. Gothenburg was about fifteen degrees colder than Oslo, rainy, and unbelievably windy, so getting to Naturhistoriska was already a much less pleasant experience than getting to the museum in Oslo, plus we had to walk up a big-ass hill to actually reach the museum. However, I was the one that wanted to go see it, for a very special piece of taxidermy that I’ll get to in a minute, so I sucked it up. At least Gothenburg’s natural history museum is free, albeit with an air of must and neglect.

 

Nothing in here was in English, but I don’t think that really matters when you’re just looking at dead animals. And wow, what a lot of dead animals! I like taxidermy a lot more than most people (and definitely way more than most vegetarians do), but the sheer volume in here made even me feel slightly ill, especially when we got to the bird section, where there must have been thousands of dead birds. I mean, this stuff was clearly Victorian (or even older, since it was established in 1833), as you can probably tell from the absolutely terrible (delightful) quality of much of the taxidermy, but a hell of a lot of animals had to die to make it. Also, the cases don’t look like they’ve been updated since 1833, though they clearly must have been since the museum has only been in its present location since 1923.

 

And now we come to the whole reason I had to see this museum – the blue whale, or Malm Whale, to give it its proper name. This is clearly the star attraction, as there are signs pointing to it throughout the museum, and it has its own hall (the Whale Hall). The juvenile whale was beached outside Gothenburg in 1865, and some fisherman basically tortured the poor thing for two days until it finally died. The carcass was sold to August Malm, the curator at the museum, who decided to preserve it and display it. He even tried to take it on tour, but that was less successful, and it ended up back in the museum. It is the only preserved blue whale in the world (thankfully), and if that isn’t interesting enough, it was built with a seating area inside, which was originally just generally open to the public until a couple was caught having sex inside in the 1930s. It still apparently opens on special occasions such as Walpurgis Night or Christmas, when Santa sits inside, which really must be something to see. I felt awful for this poor whale, but I can’t deny that it is probably the coolest piece of taxidermy I’ve ever seen – the skin is held together with rivets for god’s sake – and as grisly as it is, I would jump at the chance to go inside.

 

As you might expect, Malm Whale was definitely the highlight, but there were a hell of a lot more dead animals to get through, of varying degrees of quality. I did enjoy the Nessie equivalent of Gothenburg, especially as I assume nothing had to die to create her. I had to skip the rather extensive arthropod section (I literally had to shield my eyes when I walked through. Coincidentally, I had just had a nightmare about giant lobsters the night before, and they actually had one in this museum. My crustacean phobia is no joke), and mammals and birds were both far too extensive, though there were certainly plenty of characterful specimens (how sassy is that monkey? Love him!).

      

This museum is definitely not for the faint-hearted (I feel like I say that a lot), but the Malm Whale manages to be both depressing and awesome, and for me made it worth the trip (I still 100% want to go inside if I get the chance). It is free, so this one is worth checking out I think, if, of course, you can take the sight of thousands of dead animals, many of them now endangered. I really would be hard-pressed to name a more old school museum than this, right down to the smells, and I definitely think there’s something to be said for the experience of walking through something this Victorian-feeling (though Victorians would definitely not have put up with the children turning cartwheels(!) through the museum, inches from a glass case. I mean, really?!) – until it got to the point of dead animal overload, I was really enjoying myself. 3.5/5.

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London: Venom: Killer and Cure @ the Natural History Museum

I’m glad that I had so many posts from Manchester and the US on backlog, because I always find it really difficult to leave the house in January, and I just wasn’t motivated to go to many museums (it doesn’t particularly help that I work at a museum now – even though I still love visiting museums, I don’t always want to spend my days off in one). I was also battling a cold and jetlag for the first half of the month, which definitely didn’t help. But I finally dragged myself out of my flat in mid-January to check out the venom exhibition at the Natural History Museum, because the promise of stuff in jars is a great motivator, at least as far as I’m concerned.

I seem to go to the NHM far less than the other major museums in London (this is actually my first post about an exhibition there, though I have popped inside now and again over the years), I think because I perceive it as being always hideously crowded with screaming children, but I realised on this visit that if you go in the side entrance on Exhibition Road instead of the main one, it really isn’t any busier once you get inside than the Science Museum or the V&A, neither of which I seem to have any issue with visiting, so perhaps I’ve been unfair to the NHM. At least, it isn’t that bad on a weekday – I’m still not brave enough to attempt it on a weekend.

“Venom: Killer and Cure” was a bit tricky to locate; in fact, we had to ask for directions to it at the whale exhibit (the other special exhibition they currently have running), and we had to pass through several “zones” to get there (the museum is so big that things are assigned colour-coded zones), including the entrance hall with the blue whale skeleton (who is apparently named Hope) taking pride of place over the oft-mourned Dippy the diplodocus (honestly, I like Hope just fine, but I suppose I don’t have a childhood attachment to Dippy like other people do), but we eventually found our way. Admission is a whopping £10.50 (sans donation), but we got in for half price thanks to the National Art Pass (which is well worth getting if you live in London and go to lots of exhibitions).  (Apologies for the giant disgusting sting ray in the above picture – they scare the crap out of me, but the exhibition wasn’t that big, so I have a limited amount of photos and had to use it.)


The exhibition highlights on their website promised a lot of things, including:

“a live venomous creature,
the head of a gaboon viper, the species with the biggest known venomous fangs;
the insects with some of the most painful venoms known to science,
the enchanting flower urchin, whose venom can cause temporary muscular paralysis in humans;
the unusual love life of the emperor scorpion – where seduction has a sting in the tail,
the box jellyfish, whose embrace can kill humans in under five minutes; and
scientists whose ideas represent the cutting edge of venom research and its use in modern medicine”

and I suppose they did deliver, but in the most minimalist way possible. For example, they had exactly one live venomous creature – a tarantula in a glass tank. I was OK with that, because I definitely have no desire to touch a tarantula (though I’m fine with looking at them if they’re safely contained), but I was sort of hoping there’d be an opportunity to handle some snakes (though I guess not venomous ones!) or at least look at live snakes in tanks, because I love snakes, but dead snakes in jars were the only ones on offer (I mean, I do love stuff in jars too, but I like live snakes better than dead ones). Pretty much everything else on that list was there also in the form of dead and in a jar, or dead and tacked to a board, or dead and taxidermied…except for the scientists, which at least would have been interesting in a macabre sort of way. Again, I’m not really sure what I was expecting, because of course they’re not going to have a bunch of live venomous creatures hanging around, but I think I was just hoping the exhibition would be more engaging than it actually was. Because there was really no interactivity to speak of.

The exhibition opened with a large screen with a tarantula shadow projected on to it (which was a cool effect, particularly when you looked at it looming behind you in the mirror), which led into a very dark room containing cases of various preserved venomous specimens, with brief descriptions of each underneath. I enjoyed looking at these, but it didn’t take a whole lot of time to see them.

From there, the gallery segued into a round room with a tableau of a mongoose and cobra fighting in the middle, which was pretty neat. I also really liked the descriptions of the pain level of various venomous insect bites written by glutton-for-punishment researcher Christopher Starr. Most of them made me laugh, particularly the “W.C. Fields putting out a cigar on your tongue” one (I hope you can enlarge the above photo enough to read some of them for yourself!). The most venomous animal hall of fame was so dark that it was a little hard to see, especially some of the smaller insects, which had simply been pinned into place in the display. There was a short video featuring three survivors of venomous attacks telling their stories, which I didn’t really take time to watch because a family piled in there just as I approached (and although the exhibition was almost empty, there were a pair of really annoying visitors behind us who were pausing FOREVER in front of each display and blocking the case, so I wanted to make sure I stayed ahead of them).

The next room of the exhibition was probably the most interesting (and well-lit!) and was about historical medical treatments for people who had been attacked by venomous animals, as well as some uses modern researchers have found for various animal venoms. This included a great display with a big-ass jar crammed full of snakes (which was for some reason more exciting than all the jars with a solitary dead snake), and a preserved gila monster (I always seem to think they should be bigger than they actually are), as well as other cool cases full of medical stuff, like an apothecary jar and some venom-sucking syringes, and excitingly, some leaves that had been preserved on Cook’s first expedition(!).

The last object of note was a massive glass case with a preserved komodo dragon in it, which was given its own special room. I took the survey on my way out (I’m currently running the visitor survey at the museum where I work, so I feel obligated to do other people’s), and was interested to see that the things I was apparently supposed to have learned about in the exhibition didn’t seem to have been included anywhere, such as the difference between poisonous and venomous (I knew this already because I’m pedantic about these things, but I didn’t see it discussed anywhere inside). The shop attached to the exhibition was a bit meh – good if you’re into slow lorises, because they had about a million slow loris things, but not great if you prefer snakes and vampire bats.

I clearly can’t complain about all the specimens in jars, because that was mostly what this exhibition was, and I LOVE stuff in jars, but I could see that kind of thing in the free parts of the museum. If I’m going to pay to see an exhibition, I would rather see something more special, and with a bit of interactivity – there was one touch screen about ancient Egyptian treatments for snakebite, and that was basically it. Surely they could have come up with something cool and relevant to the subject matter (like a game where you had to try to tell whether snakes were venomous or not, or a screen or microscope where you could have examined some of the tinier insects up close, or some kind of electric zapping device that mimicked the sensation of an insect bite…well, maybe not that last one, but I’m just coming up with stuff off the top of my head here, and I think it’s more engaging than what they offered). It was also very repetitive, in terms of the animals represented – they must have had the same damn facts about the box snail (along with examples of said snail – maybe they got a whole case of them on discount) in there three or four times, so it really felt like they were desperately trying to bulk up the content to fill up an entire exhibition. I learned a bit about venom, and I enjoyed the descriptions of bites (and some of the more amusing object captions) and of course all the preserved animals, but for £10.50 (or even £5.25) I wanted more than what the NHM is already offering in its permanent zoological galleries. I think this would have been much better as a free display, rather than a special exhibition with a pricey admission fee attached. 2.5/5.

Manchester: Manchester Museum: A Visit Interrupted

Truth be told, I wasn’t all that enthused about visiting the Manchester Museum. From the name, I initially assumed it was a local history museum, and was amenable enough, but then Marcus told me that actually, it was a natural history and ethnographic museum, and I became much less keen. Nothing against ethnography or natural history (my love of taxidermy is well known), but I could see that stuff anywhere, and Manchester had so many unique and interesting sounding museums that it seemed a shame to waste time on this one. But after leaving the Pankhurst Centre, we found ourselves with an hour to kill before we could check into our hotel (and put our car in the lot), so we needed to go somewhere with parking to kill time, which pretty much ruled out anywhere in the city centre. Since Manchester Museum is on the university campus, there was a parking garage right around the corner, and the museum was free, so that sold us.

  

The Manchester Museum was bigger than I expected, and our visit time was going to be limited no matter what, because we were due to meet friends later that afternoon, but it turns out that it was more limited than even I expected (as the title gives away), so this will by necessity be a partial review (but I still wanted to blog about it, because Marcus took lots of photos).  We opted to start with the permanent galleries rather than the temporary exhibitions, so headed upstairs to see the ethnographic collections. I loved their sign about the statue of Ganesha, because it explained that he is holding a bowl of his favourite sweets, which made me feel a real affinity with him.  In addition to religious artefacts from various world cultures, there was also a small section on weaponry, particularly archery equipment, in the back of the gallery.

  

And there was also an ancient Egypt section, which is pretty much de rigueur for this kind of museum. One thing I did like was that one of the sarcophagi was open over glass, so that you could see the mummy inside (the mummy had apparently been a victim of a Victorian unwrapping – the kind that was the inspiration for the performance I witnessed at the National Archives’ Halloween event).

  

But after muddling through all the uninspiring stuff, at last we got to natural history, and that’s where the museum started to shine. Because there was so damn much taxidermy, two whole floors of it, to be exact! And we all know that I love taxidermied animals way more than any vegetarian has a right to.

  

Though the animals, on a whole, seemed to be pretty well done (and nothing like the gems in the National Museum of Ireland), which, given my love for bad taxidermy, was admittedly something of a disappointment, I did of course manage to find a few derpy examples, which I present here for your enjoyment.

  

OK, the baby elephant was more adorable than derpy, but he was such a cutie that I had to include him (though I felt really bad that he was in there. I sincerely hope he died of natural causes). Other highlights included a couple of plaster casts from a man and dog who died in Pompeii, and the skull of “Old Billy,” an allegedly 62 year old horse. I mean, I don’t know exactly how long horses normally live, but I thought it was more in the 30 year range, so this seemed far-fetched, but it seems to be verified in various places, so maybe Old Billy was just an extremely ancient horse. Of course, he lived from 1760-1822, when it presumably would have been easier to run an old horse scam without anyone checking up on it, but he was just an old barge horse, so I’m not sure if anyone was actually exploiting his age for monetary gain or not.

  

The upper hall of taxidermy eventually led into the “Vivarium,” which holds the museum’s collections of living animals, primarily reptiles, amphibians, and insects. This area was pretty crowded with parents and children (it was a Sunday when we visited, and Manchester Museum seems like the go-to weekend place, probably because it’s free, and most kids like looking at animals), so it was hard to get a peek at most of the cases, but I did spot this excellently lazy lizard.

  

And sadly, that is where my experience of Manchester Museum comes to an end, because as I was about to pass from the Vivarium into the next gallery, a fire alarm started going off really, really loudly (as they do, I guess, but this really seemed close to a permanently damaging level of sound).   So we were all directed down the nearest staircase, where people got to the bottom and then just sort of milled around confusedly in front of the fire door, instead of, you know, going out it, so Marcus and I had to take the lead and push our way outside. In fairness to the people just standing about, the exit wasn’t particularly well marked, and there were more stairs leading into the basement from where we were, so it wasn’t completely obvious what we were supposed to do. Also, because we were in the first group down, there wasn’t a staff member by the door yet to direct people out.

  

After evacuating the building, we stood around the front for a while, but the alarms didn’t show any sign of letting up, and they really were hurting my ears, so we gave up and headed back to the car (it was nearly time to check into the hotel by then anyway). I’m pretty sure it was just a drill, because I didn’t hear anything more about it, so I assume the museum is still fully intact.  But as a result of the alarm, I missed the rest of the permanent galleries, and the temporary exhibitions, one featuring art by Reena Saini Kallat, and also one on memories of Partition, about the creation of India and Pakistan. So I guess I can’t fairly score this one, because I didn’t see the whole museum. I will say that the natural history section was enjoyable, and it’s certainly much bigger than other museums of this type, but it’s not really anything you couldn’t see in any other major city (except maybe Old Billy), there’s just more of it. Good for killing time, but not worth a special trip if your time in Manchester is limited, at least as far as the permanent collections go, though I can’t comment on the temporary stuff, since I didn’t see it.

Brighton, East Sussex: Booth Museum of Natural History

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So a Sunday walk of the Devil’s Dyke in the South Downs somehow turned into a trip to Brighton to get ice cream (I say somehow, but obviously if I’m in the proximity of delicious ice cream, I’m stopping), where we happened to drive past the Booth Museum on the way, and decided to pop in for a visit (my boyfriend was sure I’d enjoy it, due to it being a collection of Victorian taxidermy).  I’m glad we did, because not only does it give me something else to blog about, it was quite a nice little museum.

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Admission is free, and the interior was pleasingly deserted, save for the cases of dead animals stacked four high that lined the walls of the museum.  These animals were mainly birds, because Edward Thomas Booth had a real bird obsession.  He apparently got kicked out of school because all he wanted to do was go shooting and study birds, so he devoted his life to his passion, becoming a pioneer of Victorian taxidermy as one of the first taxidermists to arrange animals in a natural setting.  His work with birds was indeed superb, and the only ones that suffered from derpy face syndrome are the birds that would naturally do so anyway.

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However, he was evidently less successful at mammals, as evidenced by the lion head on the right, which has to be the most melancholic lion I’ve ever seen (though really, why shouldn’t he be depressed?).  I LOVE derpy taxidermy, so I was definitely a big fan of Mr. Mopey Lion and the Tasmanian Devil at the start of the post.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the birds as well, particularly the splendid and varied tits on the back wall (teehee).

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Although birds made up the bulk of the collection, there were a few galleries hidden in the back about evolution and rocks and things.  If I wasn’t already won over by sad lion, I definitely was when I saw they gave a tongue-in-cheek nod to Just So Stories when explaining why elephants have trunks (I made my grandpa read me the story of how the camel got his hump every single day for a good few years as a child, because he did the best grumpy camel voice (and for some reason he went along with it, probably because he was awesome) and I am inordinately fond of Just So Stories as a result).  They also get props for hiding the bug gallery in its own section in the middle of the museum, so you didn’t have to walk through it if you didn’t want to (and I most certainly didn’t want to, stupid gross butterflies).

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I also really liked the re-creation of a Victorian parlour – excepting the butterfly case, it contained the kind of furniture and antique taxidermy I’d love to have in my own parlour (if I ever have a parlour), especially the lovely owl and fox, and the random scary monkey head on the wall.

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They even had a Feegee mermaid in there (based off of P T Barnum’s famous creation of a monkey head grafted onto a fish); the whole museum was like some grand taxidermied tribute to the Victorian era.  It was pretty fantastic.

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So, if you love Victorian taxidermy as much as I do, I highly recommend this charming little museum (I would say it’s probably not worth the trip on its own, but there’s so much to do in Brighton that you’d have absolutely no trouble filling up the rest of your day).  It’s sort of halfway between Brighton and Hove, so you can easily stop off in Brighton for ice cream and such, as we did (my favourite shop is Scoop and Crumb; their flavours are always changing, but they’re always delicious), but do check the museum’s website as their opening hours are slightly erratic (they close for lunch and stuff).  4/5.

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Dublin, Ireland: National Museum of Ireland, Chester Beatty Library, and the National Wax Museum Plus

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Last June, my boyfriend had to travel to Ireland for work, so we reasoned that I might as well go over there a few days early with him, so we could make a weekend out of it.  For some inexplicable reason, we decided to divide our time between Dublin and Cork, which in retrospect, was a mistake.  We drove through a bit of the countryside, and it seemed lovely, but I found the cities to be remarkably unpleasant, which was probably not helped by the fact that we were there the weekend of some major Catholic conference, so our hotel in Dublin was primarily full of priests and nuns who gave me the hairy eyeball every time I passed them in the hall.  I was raised Catholic, and thus still have a healthy dose of residual guilt, so I’m not bashing the priests and nuns; it simply wasn’t the most welcoming environment. Anyway, the one saving grace of Dublin was its museums.

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We visited two branches of the National Museum of Ireland: Archeology, and Natural History. I’m not sure why we skipped Decorative Arts and History, but knowing me, I was probably cranky because it was raining, my feet hurt (a chronic problem on trips that involve a lot of walking, due to my not owning a single pair of comfortable walking shoes), or I was hungry.  But I digress; Natural History was first, and on the way there, we passed through Merrion Square Park, which I highly recommend doing, as it is home to an extremely excellent Oscar Wilde statue.  He’s sculpted in flamboyant colours, and is reclining on a rock with a “come hither” expression, which makes for fantastic photo opportunities.  The Natural History museum is also very Victorian, and Victorian taxidermy is always a winner in my book.  Even more delightfully, many of the animals wore distinctly “derpy” expressions on their faces.  The building, which took up two or three floors, was pretty much completely devoted to taxidermy (and I believe a few small fossils), so don’t come expecting a typical natural history museum, but if you like looking at dead animals with vacant expressions, this is your place.  As an added bonus, all the grossest creepy-crawly things were covered with flaps, so you didn’t have to look at them if you didn’t want to, which I thought was absolutely great, as I have lots of weird phobias (most embarrassingly, butterflies and moths, but also spiders, particularly gross beetles, and basically everything that lives in the ocean that isn’t a fish, mammal, or reptile (e.g. lobsters, crabs, and most especially giant isopods [shudder])).

Derpy duck

We saved the Archeology museum for the next day, when I was only fueled by a blueberry muffin due to my inability to find a breakfast anywhere that wasn’t a fry-up (I feel like my constant remarks about my feet hurting or being hungry make me sound quite a bit older than I actually am, really I’m just a complainer), so we didn’t spend as much time here as it deserved, but we still saw some neat stuff.  Much of it was devoted to the Romans, Egyptians, and Vikings, though there was obviously Irish artefacts there as well.  I was primarily there to see the bog people, of which they had several, and they were dessicated but incredible.  It was quite a dry, scholarly sort of museum, but sometimes that’s what you want, especially if the objects are meaningful enough to speak for themselves. I should mention that both branches of the National Museum of Ireland were housed in markedly attractive Classical style Victorian buildings, if that sort of thing is important to you.

Bog person
Bog person

Chester Beatty was one of those prodigious American collectors in the vein of Henry Wellcome, who came over to Europe and founded museums based on the immense piles of crap they’d managed to accumulate over the years.  As one of my goals in life is to acquire enough ephemera before I die to merit my own museum, I therefore needed to visit the Chester Beatty Library.  It was located in the historic section of town, right across from Dublin Castle, and is not simply a library (which is good, since I don’t think they just let any random off the street use their collections), but an art gallery as well, which showcases Beatty’s most beautiful books and manuscripts.  Aside from authentic smells, of course, there’s nothing I love more than books, and though I’ll quite happily make do with any old copies for myself, as long as they’re legible, I often find myself lingering in Hatchards in London, gazing at their gorgeous books, so I get exactly where Beatty was coming from.  Most of the texts were religious in nature, encompassing Eastern religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, (though with some relating simply to the history of print) and they were simply a pleasure to look at.  In fact, we came back twice, since they closed before I had adequate time to look at everything the first time, which is a fair indication that I love a place.  Highly recommended.

Me and Oscar Wilde
Me and Oscar Wilde

Our last Dublin museum was also the cheesiest, and least educational (and no, it sadly wasn’t the leprechaun museum, though I would have loved to have had the time to see that too), the National Wax Museum Plus.  I’m not sure what they did with the plain old National Wax Museum, or why this incarnation merited a plus, as like most wax museums, it was overpriced and underwhelming, with the only real joy to be taken from how terrible some of the wax figures looked.  I love to mock them, yet I still always visit them, since there’s something I find irresistible about arguably famous people rendered in the unforgiving medium of wax.  The National Wax Museum Plus started out well with a room of Irish writers, including Oscar Wilde (yet again) in a disgraceful wig, followed by various Irish politicians and world leaders from what I would guess was the 1990s who I’d never heard of.  They had the requisite hall of horrors, and even some wax popes.  So far, so good.  Now, along the way, I had been seeing posters tacked up on various walls, reading “Jedward, coming soon!” and showing a picture of what appeared to be a waxen Jedward (though it was admittedly hard to tell).  I know Jedward are awful, but I love Eurovision, and was super excited to get my picture taken with them.  The signs kept increasing in frequency the further we progressed through the museum, until I was sure they must be in the last section, which was devoted to entertainment figures.  No dice.  We duly walked around the entertainment hall, had our pictures taken with sub-par Irish singers, like Bob Geldof (and a leprechaun?!) but there was no Jedward in sight.  I finally went and asked a girl working in the gift shop, who informed me that coming soon meant “coming in some point in 2013,” not, “coming soon up ahead in the museum.”  I don’t know the last time I’ve been quite so disappointed, so the National Wax Museum Plus ultimately left a bitter taste in my mouth.  If you for some reason take less pleasure in Jedward’s rendition of “Waterline” than I do, you might have a better time there.

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So, onward to the scores. National Museum of Ireland deserves a solid 3 out of 5, and I loved the Charles Beatty Library, so 4.5 for it.  I probably would have given the National Wax Museum Plus a 3 because of the sheer irrelevance of most of the wax figures, which I found delightful, but I’m going to have to dock a point because of the cruel Jedward tease, so 2 out of 5.