By Dan Shapley
Natural history museums are usually in the business of showing off the species lost or endangered by the modern world, but they themselves are showing some strains from the modern economy. The not-for-profit institutions are running deep into the red -- $300,000 on average. At a time when multimedia displays like the Planet Earth series (not to mention Ben Stiller's recent "Night at the Museum" flick, in which some of those creatures come to life) are garnering huge audiences, and the need for education about the loss of the world species and the state of the world's environment at an all-time high, museums are struggling to maintain their niche. And they are major supporters of the research that make entertaining multimedia extravaganzas -- not to mention species preservation -- possible. And that makes their plight important to note, according to a story in the June 3 Los Angeles Times.