These days you could very well cobble together a private natural history museum with objects available on eBay and Amazon, but back in the good 'ol days it was all on the brave explorers and naturalists who hoofed it through little-known parts of the globe to gather artifacts. And now we can have a better understanding of what it all involved thanks to the American Museum of Natural History, who've recently digitized a great deal of their photo archives — much of which was previously for staff eyes only — for everyone to see. We e-thumbed through them and plucked a few favorites.
Just a bunch of wild and crazy adventurers from a 1925 expedition in Mongolia taking a break to map out their next moves.
This Tundra Yukaghir man in winter furs was captured by ethnographer Waldemar Jochelson during a 1902 expedition to the Russian north.
Here Charles Curtis — assistant to ornothologist Rollo Beck and a dead ringer for a young Steve Jobs — mans the wheel of the schooner while en route through the South Pacific.
This is one of the museum's 3,400 photos on glass taken by Julien Dimock during his travels of the American South between 1904-1911. This shot of the Crawford family in a canoe was from an expedition through the Florida Everglades.
Another from the Julian Dimock collection: "Man in row boat" Beaufort, South Carolina, 1904.
Wonder how they got that giant whale to hang from the ceiling of the Hall of Ocean Life? This is how, in 1968.
A museum employee working on the teeth of an alligator model for display.
A posse of barking Bachelor seals on Saint Paul Island, Alaska, 1913.
Roy Chapman Andrews — the real person Indiana Jones was allegedly patterned after — holding a baby antelope in Mongolia around 1928. Badass meter: off the charts.
A dozen dinosaur eggs discovered in Mongolia in 1925. Grossest. Omelet. Ever.
You know you've made it when they make a statue of you while you're still alive. Here, legendary naturalist and an early proponent of conservationism John Burroughs poses for artist C.S. Pietro, somewhere in upstate New York.
A shot of the Huichol Indian authorities at Guadalupe de Ocotán, from Norwegian explorer Carl Sofus Lumholtz's 1895 expedition to Mexico.
While it may be mistaken for a terrifying acid flashback, this lantern slide features the colorful Bryce Canyon, Utah.
The facade of a large church in Norogachi, Mexico. Taken sometime between 1891 and 1892.
While there's little other info as to its origin, this shot of Japan's Mt. Fuji was taken from nearby Yamanaka Lake.
A boy riding a mule, from one of Lumholtz's several expeditions through Mexico during 1890-1910, all of which were paid for by the AMNH.
Estimated to be taken sometime between 1922 and 1930, this lantern slide depicts paleontologist George Olsen and his Chinese assistant "Buckshot" excavating the hind leg of a carnivorous dinosaur in inner Mongolia. Who knows which unsuspecting surly kid they tormented Dr. Alan Grant-style with a claw.
Artist Belmore Browne painting the mountain goat diorama background in the Hall of North American Mammals.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor. He's never seen Night at the Museum, and he's totally cool with it.