A Visit to the American Museum of Natural History

Greetings from New York! I had an awesome success recently and I wanted to share.

A few days ago on the Switchboard for Reed College, Nisa (a 2014 grad) posted this offer: 

It turns out that employees of the AMNH get 20 free vouchers a month to give away. Crazy, right? I was in town for a conference and so my husband Andrew (2002) and I reached out to Nisa for tickets. Within minutes, they were waiting for us at the will call window.

Andrew had never been to one of my favorite exhibits, the Hall of North American Mammals. That was our first stop. (I am indebted to the influence of photographer Joseph O. Holmes whose 2005 series shot at the AMNH is delightful).

Nisa was a biology major. After graduation she learned of this job through another important network in her life: her rugby team. She works in the museum’s cryogenic lab. Her job involves cutting off very small pieces of frozen tissue (of, say, a lizard’s tail) and sending them in vials to researchers. She hopes to study neuroscience in the future. We got an insider’s view of the place. Nisa pointed out the fossils on the museum’s walls…

and we talked a lot about dinosaurs.

I was struck by how donors to the museum have doubled up on sponsoring certain dioramas. A thing can exist in the world that can be so awesome that people petition to recognize its awesomeness again. You can see what I mean here: the original donors, and then the 2011 donors tacked on.

We headed to Dive 75, quite possibly the only dive bar on the Upper West Side, where Nisa shared the story her remarkable Turkish immigrant family. I won’t go into it, but I bet if you stop by here and say you know Nisa, the proprietor will be very glad to serve you. And then I logged a success, only to realize that I was in fact the third person to do so in less than a week.

What never ceases to amaze me about Switchboard is how, every day, I’m surprised by people’s imagination. Who would have thought a simple “Offer” button would lead to such a memorable day, a new friendship, and such meaningful engagement for a new alumna wanting to stay connected to her community? It’s a success I won’t soon forget.  

(PS: Nisa posted an Ask of her own a while back looking for contacts in neuroscience. For our Reed community readers: if you know of someone, please lend a hand!)