Cuba at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

I, Zeb the Duck, and Soapy Smith Duck visited the Cuba exhibit.

Cuba exhibit

But where is Cuba?

Where is Cuba?

Cuba, the largest Caribbean Island nation, is only 94 miles (150 km) from our state of Florida.   But for many decades Americans could not visit this tropical island.   Cuba and the United States have very serious political and economic differences so travel between the countries has been prohibited or restricted since the 1960s.   This exhibit at our museum looks like a main street in Havana, Cuba.

Havana street

You will see store fronts, small businesses and Cuban people.   And the cars.

Old US car

Cubans still have old cars from the United States.   Those built in the 1950s and early 1960s.   The Cuban people have developed incredible mechanical skills.   They cannot get original parts for replacements, so they improvise.   The automobiles still run and are in great condition.   These large American cars are very popular as Cuban taxis now.   In recent years, Americans have been able to visit Cuba on approved tours, if requirements are met.   I, Zeb the Duck, and mom visited Cuba in December 2013.   The exhibit in Denver shows many things we saw on the streets of Havana.   Cars are scarce and very expensive in Cuba, so bicycle taxis are also popular.

Bicycle taxi

Many Cuban people ride bicycles and many others walk wherever they need to go.   The food is delicious.

Cuban food

We, Zeb and Soapy, would like to sample these, but mom said no.    Many of the coral reefs in the Caribbean are sick or dying, but the Gardens of the Queen Reef is healthy.

Cuba’s coral reef

The fish around the reef are beautiful.  The two main crops of Cuba are sugar cane and tobacco.

Tobacco shop in Havana

This is a tobacco shop.   The hand rolled Cuban cigars are among the best in the world.   Often you will hear music in Havana.

Cuban musicians

Many musicians will sit on the street, against a building and play.   The music is wonderful and the Cuban people appear to be happy, always with a smile on their face.  They love to play games.

Let’s play Dominos

Men playing Dominos along the street or in plazas are also common.   There is much more to this exhibit.   The wetlands, southeast of Havana, on the southern coast is definitely worth a visit.   There is also a display recognizing Cuban immigrants in Denver.   If you want to see this exhibit, you need to hurry.   It will only be here until Sunday, January 13, 2019.   While at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science, take time to see the IMAX film, Cuba.

IMAX film about Cuba

The film features a man who dedicated his life to preserving Cuba’s old architecture and a young ballet student.   The largest ballet school in the world is located in Havana.   And the film features Cuba’s coral reefs and discovers why Cuba’s reef is much healthier than others in the Caribbean.  We hope you visit this exhibit this week.   And visit other museums near your home also.   You will find something interesting.

Chocolate at Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Chocolate !   Chocolate!   We are going to Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science to learn about chocolate.   I, Zeb the Duck am ready.   Let’s go mom.   We enter the exhibit, which is included with a general admission ticket or our museum membership card.

Chocolate Exhibit

Chocolate Exhibit

Chocolate comes from a tree.   The seedpods of the cacao tree.

Cacao seedpod

Cacao seedpod

Those are pretty big seedpods.

Cacao Seedpod

Cacao Seedpod

Chocolate comes from the 30-50 seeds in each pod.   One pods provides enough chocolate for about 7 milk chocolate bars.   Animals eat the pulp while the tough husk protects the seeds.   Animals help create new cacao trees.   They eat the sweeter pulp, while throwing the seeds on the ground.   Many seeds will create new trees.   The Mayans loved the chocolate and often grew cacao trees near their homes.   It was easy to go in their yards to get chocolate seeds.   The Mayans enjoyed chocolate as a frothy drink.

Frothy chocolate drink

Frothy chocolate drink

The cacao seeds were fermented, dried and roasted.   These seeds were then crushed into paste and mixed with water.    Other ingredients such as cornmeal, honey, and chili peppers were added.   The beverage was then poured back and forth between two cups to make the beverage frothy.    Enjoyed by rich and poor, chocolate was a particular favorite of Maya Kings and priests.

Cacao seeds

Cacao seeds

Chocolate was widely traded and was used as money by Aztecs.   In 1606, this was the World of Chocolate.

World of Chocolate 1606

World of Chocolate 1606

Chocolate was introduced to Europe where sugar was added to the beverage.

Sugar added to chocolate

Sugar added to chocolate

Europeans also invented the chocolate stirrer, to more easily create froth on top of the beverage.

Chocolate stirrers

Chocolate stirrers

Having and serving chocolate soon became a status symbol for the wealthy, requiring special serving cups and utensils.

New chocolate serving dishes

New chocolate serving dishes

In 1847 the first chocolate bar was made.

Chocolate bar

Chocolate bar

The chocolate bar led to a new chocolate item–molded chocolate.

Chocolate molds

Chocolate molds

Later, in 1875, chocolate maker Daniel Peter teamed with Henri Nestle to produce milk chocolate.   Soon chocolate symbolized romance.

Chocolate for romance

Chocolate for romance

Today chocolate is a global commodity, with much coming from Africa.

Chococlate is global commodity

Chococlate is global commodity

Near the exit, and entrance, to this exhibit we enjoyed the Chocolate Shop.

Chocolate Shop

Chocolate Shop

Enstrom’s Candies  from Colorado is a sponsor of this exhibit.   We loved this case.

I can only have one???

I can only have one???

Mom said I had to pick just one.   Don’t wait too long to visit Chocolate at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.   The exhibit is here only until May 8, 2016.

Zeb the Duck Admires Vasily Konovalenko’s Gem Carvings Without Visiting Moscow

Only to be seen in Moscow, Russian and in Denver, Colorado.   I, Zeb the Duck, saw gem carvings of Russian Folk Life.   According to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, I am enjoying the only public display of gem carvings by Vasily Konovalenko outside of Moscow, Russia.

Let's go inside

Let’s go inside

Come into the exhibit room with us.   Here are two gem carvings in a glass case.

On the Stroll and The Painter

On the Stroll and The Painter

The man and woman carving is On the Stroll.  Her boots are of red jasper, her blouse of variscite, and skit of nundoorite.    His shirt is opal, jacket is lapis and his pants are of jasper.    The next one is the Painter.   The Painter’s shirt is lapis and his eyes are sapphire.   The other clothes are various colors of jasper.   The floor is agate.   Konovalenko, the artist, was born in 1929 in the Ukraine.   While working in St. Petersburg, Russia, he produced gem carvings for the ballet , earned rave reviews and he became fascinated with the art of gem carving.   This carving is titled Grandmother.

Grandmother

Grandmother

Her dress is snowflake obsidian and we love the malachite base.   These Prisoners look so real.

Prisoners

Prisoners.   Even with prison numbers and a ruby target on their backs

You can see that each carving is in a glass case and  there are many mirrors.   The reflections are great also.   In Russia, Vasily Konovalenko continued making gem sculptures, and around 1974 an American wholesale diamond dealer saw the sculptures and offered Konovalenko a house in the United States, machinery and minerals if he would emigrate to the United States and continue gem carving.   Vasily and his wife, in the pursuit of freedom, quickly emigrated to the United States.   This carving, named Spring, was one of my favorites.

Spring

Spring

Under each carving, you can read what gems were used.  That is very convenient and informative.   Swan Song is also great.

Swan Song

Swan Song

Each gem carving we saw became one of our favorites.   Here is In the Sultry Afternoon II.

In the Sultry Afternoon II

In the Sultry Afternoon II

And of course, The Barrel Bath is another favorite.

Barrel Bath

Barrel Bath

You can tell, we really liked them all.   In the early 1980s, Museum trustee Alvin Cohen purchased 20 of the Konovalenko sculptures and made them available to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.   The display opened March 1984 where they have been on display ever since, the only public display outside of Moscow, Russia.   This is called Walruses.

Walruses

Walruses

We liked the man and especially like the woman in the water.     Look closely at In the Sultry Afternoon I.

In the Sultry Afternoon I

In the Sultry Afternoon I

Isn’t the watermelon made of ruby wonderful?   I love it!  Bosom Pals, of course, is another favorite.

Bosom Pals

Bosom Pals

We like these three carvings, especially with the exhibit information on the wall.

Gem Carvings by Konovalenko

Gem Carvings by Konovalenko

There is also another gem carving on the first floor of this museum in the gem display.   Mom and I really like gems, whether carved, set in jewelry, in natural form or still in the mine.   You will love some time in Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science.   They are so many different things.   We come often and we always find something fascinating.  Check out the museum offerings at http://www.dmns.org   There really is something for everyone.

Mythic Creatures at Denver’s Museum with Zeb the Duck

I, Zeb the Duck, saw Mythic Creatures at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science.

Mythic Creatures in Denver

Mythic Creatures in Denver

This is a special exhibit through September 7, 2015.   It is good; don’t miss this one.   This is the Kraken.

Kraken

Kraken

Hundreds of years ago, European sailors told of a sea monster called a kraken that could toss ships into the air with its many long arms.   Today we know of a living sea animal, the giant squid, that has eight arms and two tentacles.   It can grow longer than a school bus, but it lives at great depths and is hardly ever seen.     I, Zeb the Duck, may be in love with this mermaid.

Mermaid

Mermaid

This s a Yawkyawk made from fiber, by Marina Murdilnga.

Yawkyawk

Yawkyawk

This is an ancient spirit of northern Australia’s aboriginal people.    This spirit that lives in the water, looks similar to a mermaid and has the power to give life.   Some believe a woman can become pregnant just by going near their water home.   This giant Optithecus blacki, lived in southeast Asia for almost a million years, until about 300,000 years ago.

He lived 300,000 years ago

He lived 300,000 years ago

In China fossilized teeth and jaws have been found.    I am sitting by a fossilized jaw bone.    This is a statue of a Griffin.

Griffin

Griffin

A griffin is a legendary creature with the body, tail and back legs of a lion.   A griffin has the head and wings of an eagle and has eagle’s talons on the front feet.  The Griffin was thought to be an especially majestic creature.   I liked this unicorn.

Unicorn

Unicorn

In modern fairy tales and stories, the mythic unicorn looks like a white horse with a single long horn on its head.   But in older stories, this fantastic creature has a short, colored horn and the body of a goat.   This is an ivory tusk from an arctic whale called a narwhal.   In the Middle Ages, many believed these tusks to be unicorn horns.

Narwhal Whale Tusk

Narwhal Whale Tusk

This chupacabra from Mexico lurks in the forest prying on goats and cattle, terrifying local residents.

Chupacabra

Chupacabra

The chupacabra acts much like a vampire, killing animals by sucking their blood.   The Barong Ket is King of the Spirits and an oversized village guardian for many residents of the island of Bali, Indonesia.

Barong Ket from Indonesia

Barong Ket from Indonesia

Rangda is the half-goddess, half witch demon queen of Bali who often battles Barong.   Elephant Bird is from Madagascar.

Elephant Bird from Madagascar

Elephant Bird from Madagascar

This bird, according to fossils, did exist on the island of Madagascar.   However, even though legend says the bird could pick up elephants, he would not have been able to lift an elephant.   Another problem with the legend:   Elephant bird lived in Madagascar, but elephants never lived in Madagascar.   The fossilized egg, also found in Madagascar is the largest egg ever found.   This is Pegasus, son of the monster Medusa and Poseidon, the god of the sea and of horses.

Pegasus

Pegasus

Of all the mythic creatures that rise from the water, prowl across land, or fly through the air, the dragon is the most famous.

Dragon

Dragon

A very impressive dragon.   The Chinese Parade Dragon chases the “Pearl of Wisdom,” a baton carried by the parade leader.

Chinese Parade Dragon

Chinese Parade Dragon

These are just some of the mythic creatures you will see at this exhibit.   We enjoyed our time here and believe you would enjoy it also.   But, go soon.   These mythic creatures are at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science only until September 7, 2015

Dinosaurs in Denver

We have a great museum in Denver. We visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science often.   I, Zeb the Duck, and Soapy Smith Duck wanted to see dinosaurs.  Before we even entered the museum, we saw dinosaurs by the parking garage.

By the parking garage

By the parking garage

Aren’t these guys great?

Dinosaur by elevator to parking garage

Dinosaur by elevator to parking garage

And big!

As we entered the museum, we were greeted by T-Rex.  He weighed about 7 tons and could run 25 miles per hour.

T-Rex greets us!

T-Rex greets us!

T-Rex had a long tail for balance as he walked on 2 legs.  His small arms were for holding prey and to help him get up from a resting position.   T-Rex had really powerful jaws and neck muscles.

What a big, powerful head

What a big, powerful head

You would not get away from this guy.

Heading to the second floor to visit Prehistoric Journey,

This is a great display

This is a great display

we saw plesiosaurs.  He is called the ancient swimmer of the deep.

Wouldn't be our favorite swimming mate

Wouldn’t be our favorite swimming mate

We ducks do not want to swim with him.

Entering Prehistoric Journey we saw dinosaurs everywhere. This skeleton is of walking fortress.

Walking Fortress

Walking Fortress

You can see how he got that name.   Walking Fortress has small teeth and a wide body so scientists believe he was a plant eater.

This long necked dinosaur is about 150 million years old.

Long necked dinosaur

Long necked dinosaur

The duckbilled dinosaur, or Hadrosaur,  is impressive also.

Duck billed dinosaur

Duck billed dinosaur

Duckbilled dinosaur has a toothless beak, but behind that beak each duckbilled had tightly packed teeth, as many as 1,000 at a time.  When one tooth wore out, another replaced it.  No dentures for dinosaurs.

We saw lots of dinosaur exhibits.

So many dinosaurs

So many dinosaurs

You will want to see these.   The name of this exhibit is Prehistoric Journey, so there are more than dinosaurs here.

Look at what lived in the Nebraska woodland about 20 million years ago.

He lived in Nebraska about 20 million years ago.

He lived in Nebraska about 20 million years ago.

This “Big Pig” looms menacingly as it catches sight and scent of prey.  This big pig was both a predator and a scavenger.  These pigs lived and traveled in herds.

We liked this exhibit and we like dinosaurs.   But we are little ducks and we are very happy that these big animals are not walking around here today.   We hope you visit our museum or a museum near you.  Museums have so many fascinating things to see and you can learn so much there.

You will love all the dinosaurs.

You will love all the dinosaurs.

 

Egyptian Mummies Arrived in Denver

Mummies???   I, Zeb the Duck, and Soapy Smith Duck, saw mummies–in Denver.   Mom took us to Denver’s Museum of Science and Nature.   We saw real mummies from ancient Egypt.

Egyptian Mummies in Denver

Egyptian Mummies in Denver

Let’s go in the room of mummies.

Why did the Egyptians mummify bodies?   In the afterlife the deceased would join the god Osiris.

Osiris

Osiris

The person was said to become an Osiris.

Here is the mummy of a poor lady.

Poor woman's mummy and coffin.

Mummy and coffin of a poor woman.

But, how did the Egyptians mummify bodies?   In 4 steps. First the internal organs were removed. The priests removed most organs through a cut on the person’s left side.   The heart was not removed, as the heart was the site of wisdom and intelligence. The brain was extracted through the nose with long hooks. Second, the body was dried. During the mummification process, items that the deceased may need were assembled.

Some of things needed for the journey to the afterlife.

Some of things needed for the journey to the afterlife.

These items were to comfort him and help in his journey to the afterlife.  The body was laid on a bed of natron, a natural salt, during the drying stage. The body was dried for 40 days.  Third, the body was wrapped in linen provided by the family.   The quality and quantity of the linen varied by the wealth of the family.  Amulets and scarabs were often put in the linen.  Fourth, the mummy was placed in the coffin and was ready for a proper funeral and burial.

New coffins--ready for a mummy

New coffins–ready for a mummy

This mummification process took 70 days.

Until 1946 tourists to Egypt could buy mummies as souvenirs of their trip.  In 1904 a businessman from Pueblo, Colorado purchased these mummies.   They are in Denver on loan from Pueblo’s Rosemount Museum.

The hieroglyphs with this coffin lid say this man was a scribe at the temple of the god Amun in the city of Thebes.

Well preserved coffin lid

Well preserved coffin lid

The high quality of the carpentry and paintings indicate he was a respected and wealthy man.  The paintings have been well preserved for the past 3,000 years, but some parts of the lid have fallen off.

What did these people look like when they were alive?

How they may have looked when alive.

How they may have looked when alive.

From the skulls, this is how the scientists believe they looked.

These mummies are fascinating, but we ducks don’t think we want to be mummies.  You would like to see this exhibit.   If you don’t live near Denver, visit an exhibit near you.  It is fun to be a tourist in your own town.  We hope you try it soon and often.