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Friday, January 18, 2013

National Treasures

.....by Olivia Kelly

I love museums. I don't get to visit them much anymore, since it's pretty hard to concentrate on Rodarte when your kids are practicing their best WWE moves. There are a few kid-friendly museums that we visit, but I miss "adult" museums. 

This is a fairly typical day.
I think my mom started taking me to museums early, when I was maybe six or seven, but then I've always been pretty fascinated by art of all forms. (Well, okay, I don't get the trash/food/pubic hair installations. I mean, c'mon.) We lived in Connecticut when I was young, and being a native New Yorker, my mom liked to take me into The City at least once every couple of months. Sometimes it was shopping and a show (Broadway or Off). But we always hit up the museums. 

Lord. The museums. 

I've been to the Met, the Guggenheim, the Modern Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History (my favorite). I do regret not having ever been to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, but I'll get there some day. I'd like to see my great-grandfather's entry from when he came over from Russia. 
But there are amazing museums all over the US. There are probably some fun, smaller ones near you if you can't get to the expansive famous ones. We have a museum of paratroopers at a nearby military base. The boys really like that, since they do a paratrooper demo once a year- it's pretty awesome. 

I did a little research. There are some fairly epic exhibits going on right now all over the country. You guys need to check these out. 

And then report back.

In Denver, Colorado, you can visit the Forney Museum, where you can see Amelia Earheart's car! How cool is that?
Amelia was a baller, yo.

Up in Philly, Pennsylvania, you can drop by to see the exhibit Grimm's Anatomy at the Mutter's Museum, at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

That looks terrifying and amazing.

If you swing out to the west coast, the J. Paul Getty Museum has a gorgeous exhibit going on right now: Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance: paintings and illustrations.

The most romantic period of art, oh, let's think...EVER.

The School of Art Institute in Chicago has an exhibit I'd love to see. They are displaying Japanese fashion! It's called Material Translations.


And the Smithsonian in Washington DC has so many exhibits that if you spent a month there, you still probably wouldn't make it through them all! I wish I had a free weekend, though, because I'm dying to see their exhibit on the Civil War- Photography: From the Home Front to the Battlefront.

Er. No pun intended.

Our favorite local museum (I consider anything within a day's drive to be local, although this is close by) is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. They just built a whole new wing, that totally rocks because it's very hands on. You can actually watch as they painstakingly uncover dinosaur bones or plant fossils from chunks of rock shipped in to their glass-walled labs. They have tons of areas for kids to learn about science and nature in a very organic and involved way. 

Plus, they have some pretty cool exhibits. Right now there is an exhibit on the Titanic.. My six year old really wants to see it, and so do I! It's still a fascinating subject, even after all the extensive coverage over the years. I hope we can get there soon.

How about you? Do you like museums? Find them boring? What's your favorite one? Do you have any funny or interesting stories to tell about a museum you've visited? Any museums to recommend?


  1. I love museums too. Growing up in Cali we had so many museums actually. We have natural museums and we even have missions. Now those were cool, especially on they have people dressed up during that time.

    I have to say the I loved Getty Museum. Seriously, I wanted to go back again. I believe it even had a mazed if my memory serves me right. Another cool place was Hearst Castle. I mean they have taken care of the home.

    I kind of wish I got a chance to see the mystery house. Maybe one day I can get there.

    Another museum I liked was in St. Louis. It was at the Gate Way Arch. Seriously, I love museums too.

    I also love military museums those are cool. Ft. Leonardwood has like five of them. Each of them different. I better stop otherwise I can go on forever.

  2. I prefer the Zoos and Aquariums. I really don't understand art...if its not a landscape I probably won't like it. Although I wish more people sculpted out of marble these days. ;)

    I took my oldest to the Titanic exhibit in November for a field trip. For the price we paid, I was expecting more. It cost us over $20 for 2 people and we were through it in 10 minutes. And that was taking my time with only 2 other small families there so were weren't rushed. But it was neat to see the Titanic items.

  3. Oh, wow, really Beth? That's a little discouraging. Hmm. I'll have to think about it. And we LOVE zoos and aquariums, although I always worry about whether or not the animals are truly being taken care correctly and if they feel the loss of their freedom, etc, etc. It's not as happy an experience for me as it was when I was a child.
    Melody, I really wish I could have gotten to the Getty last year when I went to the RWA National Conference nearby. I just didn't have any extra time!
    One exhibit I will never forget was at the Met, in NYC, when I was a teenager. It was called "Costumes through the Ages" and they had replicas and originals of centuries of clothing on mannequins. Obviously you couldn't touch, but it was AMAZING to see a dress from the 18th century, with it's huge panniers and all that lace, stitched all over with gold thread and seed pearls. Another exhibit I love, which is permanent, is at the Museum of Natural History. The Egyptian Room! It's exactly what you think it is, except more. They have a crypt, which was taken apart, shipped over from Egypt and reassembled, and you can actually walk all the way into it, to see the interior room. Now, the corridor is VERY tight, so I think I made it about 1/3 the way in before I freaked and had to get out. I...don't do well in enclosed, dimly lit areas. ;D BUT, there are many other things to examine, and the room itself is super cool- it looks right out to Central Park with a glass wall, if I remember correctly. It's been over a decade since I've been there!

  4. LOVE this post Olivia! :) I am such a huge museum geek and have so many favorites. I loved the Prado in Madrid and the National Gallery in London. NYC has amazing museums, and I enjoyed the Met and Guggenheim too. The Museum on National History is pretty incredible and they had this phenomenal exhibit on the Silk Road a few years back that I totally loved. Have you ever been to the Fricke Collection? It's on the small side, put packed with masterpieces galore. It's kinda incredible to think that all of this gorgeous art was just part of some man's home and that's what he and his family came home to every day.

  5. Olivia ~ I love, love, love the Smithsonian. I could spend months there looking at exhibits. :)

    Almost two years ago, Deb Marlowe, Sabrina Jeffries and I flew to Connecticut to see a Sir Thomas Lawrence art exhibit at Yale. It was so awesome seeing portraits of all the famous people of the Regency era!

  6. I grew up in Manhattan so I was entirely spoiled with my museum access - the Met, the History Museum, the Frick, the Cloisters. Way back in the day they didn't have a fixed entrance fee so for a dollar we could hang out at the History Museum on a rainy afternoon.

  7. I love museums! I lived in Paris for a number of years and visited a museum every chance I got. When we visited our son in Washington, DC, we haunted the Smithsonian. I can never get enough of the gem and mineral section. Museums aren't boring! They're fabulous!

  8. I've loved all things history from early on, including museums. Also a native of CT, some of my favorite trips (even still taking them): ) are to the Peabody Museum in New Haven and the Yale University Art Gallery. My family in NC just visited the Titanic exhibit you mentioned, and they said it was brilliant. Then of course, being so close to NY I LOVE the Met! Oh boy, I can go on all day with this one!!!

  9. Olivia, our family LOVES museums. Hot Builder and I even went to to DC for our anniversary one year and spent part of the time at the Smithsonian. We lurves it that much! I've been to the Titanic Exhibit before and it made me sad while giving me the chills. I can't imagine how all of those people felt. And dude, men were men. Women and Children first. Can't really seeing that happen to much these day. :\

    Our favorite is the local Museum of Natural Science, especially when they do Bug Fest. The kids got to race huge hissing cockroaches, eat honey sticks, learn about bees and sort bugs from spiders. It was AWESOME and seriously crowded, lol!

    I hope you guys get to go see the Exhibit.

  10. Olivia,
    I love museums and tend to wander off to them when I'm in a strange city. (That turned out to be a little scary in New Orleans when I ended up in a not so great neighborhood, but my guardian angels were on their game that trip. I'm convinced I have two given the dumb things I've done and survived over the years.) I regret not scheduling a few extra days in NY to see the museums, but next time I'll plan better. :)

    One of my favorite exhibits was on the Ottoman Empire. I was in college and drove to Memphis by myself to see it.

  11. MoMA blew my ever-lovin' mind.

    I go to the Art Institute in Chicago at least once a year and even paintings and sculptures I've seen tens of times always move me.

    I'm going to include aquariums in this listing because, hey, I can. The Monterey Bay Aquarium in CA is incredible. The two-story wall of glass with massive fish and sharks and rays behind it make you feel like you're *in* the water with them.

  12. I'm more of a Natural History and Science museum kind of girl, but I *did* love The Louvre. Say what you will about the French (says the girl who lives in Regency England in her head), but they have some amazing artists :-)