An engaging new book filled with bold colorful photographs and detailed scientific stories, laced with a few anecdotes, brings north Georgia’s Tellus Science Museum to life for visitors inspired by the Smithsonian affiliate.
The 50 Coolest Things At Tellus (Goosepen Studio and Press) by Jose Santamaria and Shaw Kinsley delivers an all inclusive journey across the 50-acre Cartersville museum chronicling the fifty self-described “wow!” exhibits and features which grace the nearly one-hundred page hard cover book. From the 150-million-year-old Apatosaurus exhibit to today’s recently completed space shuttle program, this book is an essential addition for students and researchers of all sciences.
“It was an intense but important project and it was exciting when it started coming together,” Santamaria discussed with this journalist on Sunday as we walked the marble halls of the world class museum. “We collaborated with some great photographers to make the book happen. Some exhibits have great stories on how we got them, others have stories on what makes them cool.”
Mr. Santamaria has served as the museum’s director since 1996 when the then Weinman Mineral Museum expanded to become Tellus in 2009. “We began this book soon after opening because of our visitor’s interest in our exhibits,” he said. “The book took a while because we kept adding exhibits – more than 10% of the “coolest things at Tellus” were not here when we opened.”
Bright images headline the book featuring the full scale periodic table and the Wright Flyer replica. Tellus has become middle south’s top educational destination for visitors both young and old. The museum houses an impressive collection of antique motorcycles and automobiles, including a 1886 Benz Motorwagen.
As Santamaria turned the corner into the aviation and space exhibit hall, I was curious as to what made his Top Five list of museum anecdotes from the book. He then laughed, nodded and began with number five, “Space shuttle Columbia’s nose cap – it’s amazing to have one of the few existing artifacts of this historic spacecraft” in our collection. Number four, “My Photo of the Tellus campus. I had to go up 35 feet on a lift to take that shot!”. Number three, “Our Periodic Table – it was fun searching across two continents, North America and Europe, for samples of the elements.” Number two, “Appalachiosaurus – the arms were the wrong length when we first installed the exhibit and it took years for us to be fully convinced to replace them.”
And, Jose Santamaria’s number one feature in The 50 Coolest Things At Tellus, “The Cartersville Meteorite. It’s hard to beat a story about a rock from space that hit a house seven miles from the museum.”
The largest moon rock in the state, collected during NASA Apollo 15 mission; and several sections of hardware flown aboard the space shuttle are included in the space exhibit. While outside, the center is surrounded by a huge telescope observatory, an array of solar panels, and a few monster trucks which sit parked at the parking lot are recalled in the book. “This book will be very meaningful to those familiar with Tellus,” he added.
Tellus’ Director made it clear that even though his and Kinsley’s names are on the cover, he credits the entire museum in helping with the book. “Many, many staff members were involved in putting these exhibits together. While it was nerve-wracking at the time, when I look at the photos of the exhibits, I sometimes get fond memories.” Santamaria then paused and with a smile of delight said, “Or if not fond, I maybe think ‘I can’t believe we did this!’”.
The 50 Coolest Things At Tellus is available only at the Tellus Science Museum gift shop. It is currently not available online, however the museum’s store will ship it within the United States for the book’s $29.99 price plus shipping.
THE 50 COOLEST THINGS AT TELLUS
By Jose Santamaria and Shaw Kinsley
Illustrated. 96 pp. Goosepen Studio & Press. $30