For the past 26 years, The Bone Room on Solano Avenue has offered one of the country’s best collections of bones, fossils, insects and skeletons.
The brainchild of Ron Cauble, who has a PhD in chemistry and experience in the rocket industry, it is a place of wonder for children and adults, scientists and artists. Go in on a random Saturday and hear the buzz of people exclaiming over the human skulls and skeletons, mounted butterflies and insects, dinosaur teeth, and ancient eggs.
The Bone Room’s devotees are an interesting collection themselves. Artist Damien Hirst is a customer – he purchased a skull that became part of his series of gem-encrusted skulls. Ann Getty bought thousands of dollars worth of mounted butterflies to decorate actor Don Johnson’s wedding. Texas A & M just ordered two skeletons.
People headed to Burning Man come in for horns and other costume items. Cauble purchased doll parts from a defunct German factory a few years ago and they have proven to be a hit with artists.
The store has also been a popular place to volunteer. “One of my stock statements for helpers around here,” said Gauble, “is that if you didn’t collect dead things when you were young you should probably go somewhere else.”
Berkeleyside photographer Kaia Diringer spent some time in The Bone Room to try and capture what makes it special.
The Bone Room, A Natural History Store is at 1569 Solano Ave., Berkeley Ca 94707, (510) 526-5252. Store hours: Tues – Sat / 11-6pm, Thurs/ 11-9pm. (Closed Sundays & Mondays.)
Kaia Diringer is currently Berkeleyside’s photography intern. Visit her website.
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