By Tami Shaloum
What’s your poison? Is it odorless, tasteless arsenic? Perhaps it is a venomous snake? Or maybe it’s the theobromine found in chocolate, which is highly toxic to dogs? Yes, these are just a few of the diverse poisons that are explored in The American Museum of Natural History’s new exhibit “The Power of Poison.” We all know that poison is used for many evils, as well as for protection, but did you know that poisons could also be used in medicines to help people heal from a wide variety of ills? This exhibit, curated by Dr. Mark Siddall, provides an educational and entertaining look at poisons found in nature, myths and legends, history, and literature.
We begin by entering a replica of the Chocó Rain Forest in Colombia, where many forms of venomous wildlife exist. The different flora and fauna on display showcase their toxic nature often used as protection. Here you will find the typical Museum of Natural History dioramas featuring both live and replica models of animals. Model bugs are magnified to three times their original size, live golden poison frogs demonstrate that being tiny doesn’t make a creature any less deadly, and a video recreates a mysterious real-life poisoning by newt.
|Golden Poison Frog Photograph Provided By AMNH|
|Alice in Wonderland "Tea Party" Image Provided By AMNH|
|Macbeth "Witches Brew" Photo Provided By AMNH|
Other displays include protective charms and amulets such as frankincense, gold, and bezoars; poison detectors like opal, toadstones, and silver spoons; and a cool, interactive “Enchanted Book” to help you learn more about different legends. Another interesting feature of the exhibit is a toxicology demonstration where an actor walks the audience through a mystery of an actual poisoning that occurred in the 19th century that facilitated the introduction of forensic evidence in court cases. She then invites everyone to move on to the next room to try and solve three more mysteries.
This exhibit is great fun for all ages, especially if you’re into mythology, nature, or just curious about poison. It’s interactive, engaging, and very informative. The exhibit opens on Saturday, November 16, 2013 and runs through August 10, 2014. Visit "The Power of Poison" exhibition website for more information.