Natural History’s Eerie October

Roaming spiders, snakes, and fossils? Creepy, yes, but fascinating.

Natural History Museum

When a set decorator needs to summon instant  atmosphere in a movie, and a few creepy chills, they often don't turn to dreary crepe paper and paper ghosts. They find fossil replicas, and creaky antiques, and a furry tiger frozen in pounce pose, and feathers and stones and jars filled with little bone bits. Voila! The set is decorated.

It's funny that those items, all lined up on a shelf, now symbolize something atmospheric and a bit scary, because, of course, seeing those things is pretty much like being at the Natural History Museum on any given day of the year. Nope, the venerable Exposition Park museum isn't setting out to scare visitors; they were lining up the fossils and glass eyeballs long before set decorators decided such natural world additions would lend a film an elegant and eerie air.

The Natural History Museum does like to have a bit of frightful fun come October, though; there is the famous Spider Pavilion outside the grand old building -- webs, webs everywhere -- but there are a few autumn-flavored goings-on inside the institution as well.

Like? A special Reptile and Amphibian Appreciation Day on Sunday, Oct. 7. (Snakes + Halloween are old friends, right?) A pumpkin patch hosted by Radio Disney'll go down at NHM on Oct. 14 and 21, and there's trick-or-treating in the museum on Oct. 27 (that's daytime trick-or-treating).

Good stuff, and, of course, spiders and snakes aren't all that scary, and they're very often helpful. And yet we'd hate to see them abdicate their roles in Halloween decorations and costumes and toys.

Thanks, NHM, for keeping October eerie. Of course, you have that fossils-dark halls-atmosphere going all year long, the kind of stuff set designers dream about, but we do respect you'll kick it up a notch come autumn.

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