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Old 04-28-2006, 05:06 AM   #236
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Default Smithsonian Institute

Very Strange Calls to the Smithsonian Institute ...

The Smithsonian Museum's telephone support team usually get questions like "How do you get there?" "When are you open?" etc.

More detailed questions get passed along to departments such as Anthropology. But every so often, you get funny ones.

Here are some Cordelia Benedict of the Smithsonian's telephone information services and Marilyn London of the anthropology outreach and public information office have gotten over the years:

Where do you keep the flying saucers you've captured?

Can a small plane land on the Mall? The caller was sure it could since "all those planes in the Air and Space Museum had to get there somehow."

There's a mastodon in my back yard. Can you send some scientists to dig it up? "There was literally a mastodon buried on her ranch," Benedict says. "She was right! We referred her to the vertebrate department, I think."

Do you have the Original Bible? You know, 10 Commands, tablets, Moses, etc.?

Is Fawn Hall's underwear on display? This from "two men in a Texas bar who obviously had a lot to drink," says Benedict.

What's the name of the guy who invented the wheel? ("How do you know it was a man?" London quipped.)

Where is the Ark of the Covenant? (Try the Indiana Jones movies.)

Is the Smithsonian interested in buying the carcass of Bigfoot?

Will the Smithsonian sell the starship Enterprise, used for the popular "Star Trek" television show? "She only wanted it if the transporter was in working condition," Benedict says. (The only life-size Enterprise at the Smithsonian is the space shuttle of the same name).

How do you say "I'm thinking of you" in Apache?

How about the coin George Washington tossed across the Delaware River?

Can the Smithsonian set up a caller with a hula teacher? "Actually, I tracked one down for her," remembers London. "We have a curator involved in South Pacific and Hawaiian culture, so she knew one."

Can you send "all the information you have on human evolution, even the secret stuff?"

Could the Smithsonian take a "petrified whale" off my hands? He was referred to paleontology. "I told him `petrified' means `very old biology,' and he said, `good because this is a very old whale,'" Benedict recalls.

Does the Smithsonian display Civil War planes?

and last but not least...

Here's one of Benedict's favorites: an offer to donate a collection of potato chips resembling "famous people and animals."

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