What is an Animal?

What is an Animal at The Field Museumis a unique look at the diversity of the animal world using kid-friendly explanations and easy to understand scientific concepts. Entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted by three basic ways to differentiate animals: shape, color, and size. The sheer diversity of these three categories is remarkable: vivid blue butterflies perch next to orange fish in one display while in another, a large lioness stands towers over a tiny shellfish.

Once visitors grasp how animals can first be sorted, they move on to more specific methods of classification. From habitat to survival methods, visitors see how animals survive in the wild. Colorful, fun displays illustrate the numerous ways animals travel, defend themselves and eat. In a special section on animal senses, visitors can try out a compound insect eye and get a bug’s eye view of the world.

From there visitors learn about animal differences from the inside. A hands-on display features bones from an exoskeleton, endoskeleton, and hydrostatic skeleton. Fully articulated skeletons and fossils show how internal form fits function, and how variety in life is a key to survival.

Now that visitors have a working idea of what makes animals different, What is an Animal concludes with actual scientific categorizations of animals. While the scientific names seem complicated, the exhibition sums up each category with colorful graphics, simple bullet points and multiple specimens. Visitors leave with the ability to start scientifically naming some of the other great animal displays at The Field Museum.