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Museums seem to be all things to all people. Some visitors come to the museum in search of information on specific questions. For others, a visit to the museum with friends is more of a social occasion which makes the acquisition of knowledge become not only a learning experience, but one of entertainment as well. For still others, the museum represents an amalgam of zoo, circus, and perhaps a bit of the carnival sideshow. Certainly the heroic proportions of the restorations of extinct animals, the somewhat macabre mummies, along with the "world's largest elephant," suggest to some the excitement and wonder of "the greatest show on earth."
The University of Nebraska State Museum is essentially a natural history museum composed of nine divisions. Exhibits are designed to introduce visitors to the vast scope of knowledge encompassed by such disciplines as anthropology, geology, paleontology, and zoology. The Museum staff members (curators, educators, exhibit designers, technicians, and preparators) who develop these exhibits must consider the wide range of age, interest, and educational levels, as well ~s the cultural background of the museum visitor. The intellectual appetite of the eager little first grader, whose attention span can be brief indeed, must be satisfied, while the interests and needs of the University student must also be met. Exhibits vary from the simplest presentation of an artifact, piece of taxidermy, or fossil, to highly complex displays. The more complex displays include miniature dioramas; life-size ecological dioramas, like those in the Hall of Nebraska Wildlife; and elaborate mechanical and electronic presentations such as Ceres the transparent woman. The techniques, media, and ideas used in the creation of museum exhibits are so varied that museum artists need to be people of considerable versatility since they never know what they will be called upon to do next.