Two of my favorite halls in the American Museum of Natural History are the Hall of North American Forests and its neighbor, the New York State Environment.
The New York State exhibit hall opened in 1951 and I am pretty sure that not a thing has changed since then. With its shades of green and maple, its mid-century typefaces and faux-bois paneling, it's like stepping into a vintage Boy Scout Handbook.
Its dusty dioramas, filled with miniature farmers and horses, often go ignored. Away from the crowds, it's a haven. Few people come here to learn about the Rotation of Farm Crops.
They're not so interested to discover what kinds of life squirm beneath the soil.
And faced with the life-cycle of the Calcareous Bog, they turn away in utter boredom, running off in search of the next touch-sensitive video screen, the next dino-rama, the gift shop, the cafe.
And while this makes the New York State exhibit hall a peaceful place to contemplate the sleep patterns of the common chipmunk and the decomposition cycle of a dead owl, it also means that these halls could be endangered.
Every time I visit, I expect them to be gone. To find a sign saying "Closed for Renovation." To return again only to discover with horror that the sleeping chipmunk has been yanked from its burrow and the Catskills have been utterly upheaved, replaced by computer screens and "interactive" video images.
Museum of Natural History, if you're listening, please leave this hall alone. Leave the wormy apples and the mini windmills right where they are. Don't touch those typefaces. And for God's sake, let that chipmunk go on sleeping, curled in his earthy den, for another half century.