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Hi everybody. As many of you already know, I occasionally volunteer at the Garvies Point Museum in Nassau County, New York. One day, I decided to hash out some drawings of Late Triassic creatures when I had a few moments of spare time, and I stuck them on the wall over the bulletin board. Recently, I went back to the museum for their annual Native American Feast, and to tell you the truth, I had completely forgotten about these pictures. I decided to take some photos of them while I was there. I’m hoping that the museum staff uses them for coloring activities with the children that visit the museum every week.
Well, it was that time of year again! Every April or so, at around the time of Easter, the Garvies Point Museum and Preserve, located in Glen Cove, Nassau County, New York, holds it annual “Dinosaur Day”. This is one of the days that I really look foward to for a few reasons. First, I get to work at a place that I absolutely love and meet with some good friends. Secondly, I get to be out of NYC for a little while, which is something that I ALWAYS look foward to. Third, I get to talk about a subject that has fascinated me since my earliest days – paleontology.
Veronica, the museum’s de facto head of administration, did a wonderful job along with other members of the museum staff of setting up the classroom where the day’s major activities would be taking place. Recently, the museum’s library was substantially increased. The Sands Point Museum and Preserve had closed down its library a short while ago, and all of the books and papers were sent to the GPM. I should state, though, that almost all of these documents were originally part of the GPM collections anyway, and they just got them back, that’s all. However, Louis (one of the workers at the Garvies Point Museum, but works primarily at the Old Bethpage Village – another place that I really love) has been working hard to re-catalogue all of these books and papers back into the museum’s database.
The name of the event was somewhat misleading, as it concerned all prehistoric life, not just dinosaurs. We had exhibits on primitive mammal-like-reptiles, dinosaurs, and prehistoric mammals.
Here are some pictures of what the room looked like both during and after the hoards of kids showed up.
Most of the really young children gravitated immediately towards the dino toy area and the fossil digsite. The older children and a lot of the adults were interested in the information that I and others were giving. They were especially interested in Dimetrodon, the famous sail-backed pelycosaur from the early Permian Period. I don’t think that I have ever had to say the name”Dimetrodon” so many times within the course of a single day! It seemed to be the only thing that many of them wanted to talk about!
Some of the major topics of interest on this day were: the Permian Mass Extinction, which occured about 251 million years ago, when an estimate 95% of all life was wiped out; of course, T. rex was a favorite; as too was Allosaurus, who competed with its larger relative for attention from the crowds. This was helped in no small part to the fact that we had a lot of Allosaurus “stuff” arrayed for them: a picture of the skull, a hand model, bone casts, a model, and my drawing which you might recognize from an earlier post on this blog.
Finally, here’s a picture of me, “the Dinosaur Man” as several members of the museum staff call me, dressed up as an amateur paleontologist. In addition to my olive drab Garvies Point Museum shirt, I also wore a khaki utility vest, because apparently ALL paleontologists wear khaki utility vests! I thought that wearing it would help to enhance my ethos with the audience, and by my reckoning, it worked.
I want to talk to you about one of my favorite places in the whole world. It’s called the Garvies Point Museum and Preserve, located on the North Shore of Long Island in the town of Glen Cove, Nassau County, New York. It is a geology / anthropology museum devoted to the history of Long Island. It’s a small place, but very precious, and worth taking the trip to visit. Very few people know that this place exists. The reason why is because it is tucked into such an out-of-the-way corner that if you didn’t already know that it was there, you would probably never find it. Thankfully, my parents have always exposed me to a lot of different things and different places from a very young age, and I’ve known about this place since I was a little kid. Most people outside of Nassau County don’t know that this place is here, and that’s a real shame. Hopefully, people will read this blog post and go visit there. I used to work at the Garvies Point Museum as a volunteer from January to September 2012. I got my first taste of what working there would be like when I volunteered one day for the annual Thanksgiving feast several years ago. It was a blast. I started volunteering there on a somewhat regular basis not long after I got laid off from a previous job (the place went out of business). I’ve always enjoyed going out to the North Shore, and this place was one of the reasons why. I came there on January 20, 2012 just to look around and soak in the nostalgia. Somehow, I got into a conversation with the staff about my interest in dinosaurs. They were impressed, and told me that they had a dinosaur-themed birthday party coming in the next day – could I come in and volunteer as a paleontology teacher? Sure! I had a great time, and both the children and the parents learned a lot. I made sure that I brought in some of my drawings to show the kids. One of my drawings is on public display in the Mineral Room – that’s where they did the paleontology lessons. It’s a color drawing of a Coelophysis, and it adorns the base of a Coelophysis statue. I stopped volunteering there on a regular basis when I got my teaching job at Vaughn College, but I still call them every now and then just to keep in touch, and I still volunteer there if they ask me and if I have time to spare. The following photographs date to when I was volunteering there. They’re from April 2012, so they’re a bit old. The place has been remodelled a little bit since then, but the overall effect is the same.
This is the entranceway to the Garvies Point Museum and Preserve. As you can see, the museum is run by the Nassau County Parks Department. The museum sits atop cliffs overlooking the Long Island Sound, and is situated amidst many acres of forests and meadows. There’s also a REALLY good bakery nearby called the Landing Bakery, which sells some really fantastic food. Get there quick! The doors open early, and the place is usually completely cleaned out by 4:00 PM.
This is the front door. It’s a small building, but believe me, it’s a lot bigger on the inside than it looks. You may be wondering what that strange half-rotted wooden object is on the picture’s left. That’s a solid wooden Indian canoe that was made by one of the local Boy Scout groups in the area. It’s been there since I was in elementary school, and the constant exposure to the elements hasn’t been kind to it. There’s another log canoe in much better shape inside the museum.
This is the geology hall. This place has stuff that I have never seen anywhere else. For example they have mosasaur coprolites – that’s right, the fossilized remains of prehistoric marine lizard poop. How that stuff could have remained intact in a saltwater environment is beyond my knowledge. They have an impressive display of local fossils as well as various minerals and gemstones.
This is the archaeology / anthropology hall. Here, you will find various exhibits devoted to the Indians who lived on Long Island, from the Ice Age up until the arrival of the colonists in the 1600s. In the center of the hall is a reconstructed wig-wam – a dome-shaped shelter made of branches and covered with tree bark and deer skins. There are also displays concerning archaeological work. In the back of the hall is a display of various animal pelts, including deer, beaver, black bear, and others.
All the way in the back is the educational area. This museum is very much hands-on, unlike other museums. At the Garvies Point Museum, many of the things on dislay are exposed to the open air where you can touch them. This museum is very much geared towards schoolchildren, and it is an EXCELLENT destination for a field trip! Kids can learn about hunting, fishing, growing crops, constructing buildings, making leather, and especially making ground corn flour. Throughout the museum, there are several corn churns where you can grind up corn flour yourself. It’s one of the things that this museum is most associated with.
This is the cafeteria, located next to the educational area. I know it’s not that big, but we do get a lot of parties here, and the view of the park and the water is really good, especially in the winter when the trees are bare.
Here is a place that the general public hardly ever sees. This is the museum library. This place has books that I’ve never been able to find anywhere else. Not only that, but their giftshop also sells books that I’ve never been able to find anywhere else. It’s worth taking the trip out here just to visit their gftshop!
These are some of the fossils which are on display downstairs in the basement: a hadrosaur leg, a hadrosaur footprint, and an Anatotitan skull. When you first come downstairs into the basement, you’ll see a large sand table that the museum workers use to teach students about erosion and weathering, to the left of this table are these fossils.
This is the mineral room, where we teach the paleontology lessons. Everything is all set up on the tables for a typical half-hour lesson on dinosaurs and prehistoric life: what are fossils and how are they formed, what makes a dinosaur a dinosaur, plant-eating dinosaurs, meat-eating dinosaurs, and two activity tables in the back where you can make your own fossils. There are other fossils, both real and replicas, which are in the room. There’s also a large collection of (of course) minerals such as quartz, mica, and various other rocks.
The museum sits on beautiful parkland with lots of hiking trails.
This photo shows the view of Long Island Sound from the cliff.
These two photos are taken from the beach below. The cliffs contain clay dated to the Cretaceous Period, deposited here by the glaciers during the Ice Age, and I’m told that it isn’t impossible to find fossils embedded in it. However, DON’T DIG UP THE CLAY!!! The cliffs are unstable, and landslides happen every now and then. Moreover, you’re not allowed to take anything. This land is protected by Nassau County, and that means that nothing leaves the property. So, no sample collecting is allowed. I hope that this gives all of you a good idea about what the place is like. Hopefully, you’ll be interested enough to visit. Take care, everyone.