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“Pic of the Week”, July 10, 2015 : The Colby Trophy Room, Museum of Science, Boston


Boston’s Museum of Science is a great museum to explore with children, but fun for everyone!  There are many fascinating exhibits and demonstrations that take a full day to see.  As my day at the museum was winding down I came across this most unusual room which really didn’t fit with the rest of the exhibits, but which was fascinating.  A wealthy gentleman’s room filled with guns and a large assortment of trophies bagged while hunting, and an assortment of other souvenirs from a lifetime of travel and adventure.  It seems the kind of room Teddy Roosevelt or Ernest Hemingway might have put together….

This is the Colby Trophy Room, which re-creates Colonel Francis T. Colby’s den from his home in Hamilton, Mass.   The room contains original artifacts and specimens from the travels of Colonel Colby and were donated to the museum in the memory of his father, Rear Admiral Harrison Gray Otis Colby.

The room captures the attitudes of a bygone time, when nature was to be “conquered”, rather than conserved.  But it was men like Mr. Colby who saw places in the natural world disappearing and who spear-headed some of the global conservation efforts we know today.  Colonel Colby was dying of cancer when he made his donation (the largest cash gift to the Museum at the time), and he never lived to see the Colby room installed or exhibited at the Museum.

The Trophy Room opened at the Museum of Science in 1965. You enter the room through two enormous elephant doors (which were impossible to photograph), these ornate doors from the palace of the Sultan of Witu.  You walk into an glass enclosure from which you peer into the room and see what’s inside.  Lighting in the room is low to prevent fading of colors.  Our original photo include the historic collection of guns and rifles, and there are even some muskets and spears on the side walls.  The room has many mounted game trophy heads, horns and antlers, East African statues, ivory figurines, Ethiopian artwork, and Maasai shields and spears.  Most of the items were collected between 1900 and 1945,

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