About Me


My name is Ben, and I’m an exhibition developer in the Chicago area. This blog is a space for my personal explorations into the historic and aesthetic dimensions of natural history museums, especially the cultural and scientific legacies of mounted dinosaur skeletons. Please direct questions to extinctmonsters (at) gmail.

What’s with extinct monsters? This was the evocative title of the first incarnation of the National Museum of Natural History’s fossil halls (1911-1963). I find it charming, and am cheerfully borrowing it.

Can I use your photos? Photos of public museum galleries taken by me (identified as “photo by the author”) are shared under a CC BY-NC license. No need to ask permission, but I love to hear where my photos are being used.

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone, and do not reflect the museums and other institutions where I have worked, studied or volunteered.

11 responses to “About Me

  1. Paul D Brinkman

    Dear Ben:

    I really enjoy your blog. We seem to be interested in a lot off the same things. I also have a blog. It’s called Expeditionlive! I blog about history of paleontology.


    • Ben

      Hi Paul, I’m a big fan of your book, The 2nd Jurassic Dinosaur Rush, but I didn’t know about the blog. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Steve Hight

    I used to live about 1/4 mile from that plaque. Now my wife and i are writing our second book about Fruita, and we’re using a photo of Elmer Riggs provided by Paul Brinkman!

  3. Francisco

    thank you very much excellent work, I’m enjoying it with care, thank you for sharing your knowledge, greetings and thanks again

  4. ahwhowell

    Great research and writing! I’m up in Wisconsin and an expert on historic relief models made by Edwin Howell (1845-1911, partner in Ward’s Nat Sci) that were displayed with fossils and casts. Howell helped set up the first meg at the NM among others. I’m writing a biography of Howell and I will refer folks to your blog!

  5. Bruce MacFadden

    I would like to use a hi res (>=300 dpi) photo image on your web site of the AMNH fossil horse exhibit for an academic book that I am publishing with Cambridge University Press. Would it be possible for me to use it? I would be most grateful. You of course would be credited.

    Please let me know, thanks Bruce Macfadden

  6. rob

    HI Ben
    I am a curator at the AMNH researching eugenics and HFO. I came across your blog while searching for info about Osborn (a truly despicable individual). I very much enjoyed reading through the Osborn Problem. I was wondering about your story of his elevator habits (ie he would kick underlings off) is there a reference for this? I clicked the link and no go.

    Thanks in advance and nice work man.

    rob desalle

    • Ben

      Hi Dr. DeSalle, thanks for reading. That anecdote comes from a George Gaylord Simpson essay, but I’m afraid I no longer remember which one. The dead link once went to a blog post by Christopher Norris (now at YPM), who I bet would be a lot more helpful!

  7. I just want to thank you for this blog. I’m a paleo fan who volunteers at the FMNH and has been attending since I was very small (There’s photos of baby me with Gorgeous George in the main hall), and it’s great to look at museums I’ve never been to before and the behind the scenes and history of these exhibits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s