Showing 1 - 10 of 11 posts found matching keyword: museums

Mom and I spent yesterday afternoon at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia.

The Booth Museum is a large, modern building that seems out of place in small-town Cartersville. Having been to several museums of the American West that are actually in the American West, I figured Booth would be a lackluster experience. I'm glad to say that I was quite wrong.

Two great pieces that look great together
Yes, these are two separate pieces.

The museum was founded in 2003, and most of its collection is around that vintage or newer. Whether a side effect of the newness or the intention of its founders, the museum chooses to embrace the fact that most its pieces celebrate a time and way of life that many of its artists never experienced. In function, it's a museum of the mythology of the idealized American West. Frankly, that makes for a pretty enjoyable experience.

Walk this way, pilgrim
The "Mythic West" gallery is where the action is.

The whole reason Mom wanted to visit the museum was to see the Newseum's travelling collection of President Kennedy photographs. I thought that was a weird thing to include in a Western museum. Little did I know that the Booth's most impressive permanent exhibit is a signed letter from each of the first 44 American presidents (from Washington through Obama, whose letter is actually addressed to the museum). Wow. I'm sure they'll add Trump to the collection eventually, once he learns to write.

Long story short, the Booth Museum is totally worth a visit, and I'm glad we went.

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Okay, now that I'm rested, let's continue the vacation!

Day 4 (June 30): National Portrait Gallery

  1. National Portrait Gallery
  2. Smithsonian American Art Museum
  3. National Gallery Sculpture Garden

I loved the portrait and American art museums. Loved 'em. I could have spent the whole week in there.

George Washington

Myrna Loy
America's Sweetheart, Myrna Loy

Day 5 (July 1): Newseum

  1. Newseum
  2. United States Capitol
  3. Library of Congress
  4. Supreme Court

The Newseum is the only museum we paid admission fee for. It was worth it. I must not have been the only person to think so; it was pretty crowded. The one exhibit that was totally empty was the section investigating journalistic ethics. I wish that was a joke.

Berlin Wall

Library of Congress
Library of Congress Great Hall

Day 6 (July 2): Back to Virginia

  1. Arlington National Cemetery
  2. Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center
  3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  4. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  5. Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  6. George Mason Memorial
  7. National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial
  8. Air Force Memorial
  9. US Marine Corps Memorial

Udvar-Hazy is the satellite campus (ha, ha) of the Air and Space Museum located 30 minutes away from DC in Dulles, Virginia. Like all Smithsonian museums, admission is free. Parking will set you back $15. This museum is home to the Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle Discovery. It also has a Concorde and some foreign military aircraft, but otherwise, I didn't find it as impressive as the Warner Robins Museum of Aviation. At least in Warner Robbins, parking is free.

Udvar-Hazy Center

Arlington Cemetery
Remember the Maine

Day 7 (July 3): Lexington, VA

  1. Lee Chapel & Museum
  2. Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery

Lexington is home to Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Academy. No surprise it also has the final resting place of General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Brian was very excited to stop here because it meant we'd completed our pilgrimage to the graves of all three men on Stone Mountain. (Lee and Jackson's horses, Traveller and Little Sorrel, respectively, are also on Stone Mountain, and both buried in Lexington as well.) Mission accomplished.

Stonewall Jackson Cemetery

We returned home in the wee hours of July 4, and that was all right with me. I enjoyed the trip, but there's no place like home.

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Brian and Falla

Brian said, "Let's go to Washington DC," and I said, "Sure." That means its time for vacation photos! Yay!

Day 1 (June 27): Richmond, Virginia.

  1. Stonewall Jackson Statue
  2. Jefferson Davis Monument
  3. Robert E. Lee Memorial
  4. Hollywood Cemetery
  5. Historic Tredegar
  6. American Civil War Museum
  7. Virginia State Capitol

Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America, and it has a bit of a split personality. On one hand, they worship George Mason and Thomas Jefferson and their Declarations of rights. On the other hand, they've got serious monuments to General Lee and Jefferson Davis. Highlights in Richmond include the capitol building (designed by Jefferson) and Hollywood Cemetery (final resting place of Generals George Picket and J.E.B. Stuart, Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, and, or course, Jefferson Davis).

grave of Jefferson Davis

grave of Walter Stevens and family

Day 2 (June 28): South side of the Washington Mall.

  1. Smithsonian Castle
  2. Smithsonian Sackler Gallery
  3. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  4. Hirshhorn Museum

This happened to be the week the Air and Space Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary. The years are beginning to show. To their credit, they are making an effort at updating their exhibits, including a newly refurbished USS Enterprise model (which I must admit I found way, way cooler than the Apollo 11 control module and the Wright Flyer).

NCC-1701 USS Enterprise

Day 3 (June 29): North and west side of the Washington Mall.

  1. National Archives
  2. National Gallery of Art
  3. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
  4. Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  5. National WWII Memorial
  6. 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence monument
  7. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  8. Lincoln Memorial

What a disappointment the American History museum was. I remember loving it as a child, but it seems like most of what they have on display now was purchased from flea markets. I might as well have walked through my aunt's attic. On the other hand, the National Archives was even more awesome than I remember from 25 years ago. Its exhibits are truly historical and awe-inspiring.

The endless National Gallery

Saint Lincoln

That's a lot of sightseeing. My feet are tired. This tour will resume the day after tomorrow. Don't be late.

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I've been in Washington, DC for most of the past week. I've seen eleven different museums, two cemeteries, and countless monuments. I'm starting to get the impression that not everyone enjoys learning about things as much as I do.

Take for example the little girl in the National Archives who was angry that George Washington had been left off the portrait of signers of the Declaration of Independence. "I know he signed it," she said. No one in her family corrected her.

Consider also the middle-aged man in the Smithsonian American History Museum who was shocked to discover that George H.W. Bush was elected to only one term as president. When his daughter expressed surprise that Bill Clinton had been elected twice, he said, "We only re-elect people we don't like. This country gets the presidents that we deserve." I have to agree with that.

And then there was teenaged boy who walked up to me in the National Portrait Gallery and asked where the bathroom was. Despite it being the first time I'd been in that building in my life, I was able to point his attention to the sign over his head. I hope he paid more attention to the art than he did to the signs.

To be fair, I'm not exactly open-minded about everything. I rolled my eyes when the docent at the Smithsonian American Art Museum tried to interest me in a throne someone had built over fourteen years from bits of aluminum foil. "See it," she said, "and you'll be impressed." My companion, Brian, gave her the bad news. "He won't be. He's a little stubborn," Brian said. For the record, Brian was right. Thrones made of aluminum foil are not my bag, baby. And they never will be.

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Vacation Day 3: Patriots Point and Fort Sumter

Patriots Point is a museum primarily anchored by its star attraction, the USS Yorktown.

What a pretty day

Even at the rip old age of 72, she's an impressive ship. She survived World War II and lived to pull Apollo astronauts out of the sea. But she's showing her age in places: Brian got rust stains all over his white shirt while descending from her bridge.

Hey, where did those clouds come from?

The volunteer docents — all exceedingly friendly old sailors — were disappointed by our refusal to take the guided audio tour, but they agreed that we were short on time since we also planned to take the ferry to Fort Sumter. We hustled out to the flight deck and looked around as best we could in the time Brian and I had allotted ourselves. The ship is so big, it would probably take two days to explore fully.

Yes, that is definitely rain

Compared to a 20th century aircraft carrier, Fort Sumter feels tiny. Otherwise, its a good looking ruin on a man-made island in the middle of the busy Charleston Harbor. It's small size seems disproportionate to its importance in the Civil War. The big, black battery that now takes up most of the island didn't exist in 1861, so maybe Sumter had more room for whipping slaves back in the day.

Lightning does what the Union couldn't: close Fort Sumter

We were harried by rain all afternoon, and the recurring thunderstorms that washed over the harbor also kept us from seeing most of the island. The rain came in wave after wave, chasing us back to shore. The ferry ride back was a wet one.

Batten down the hatches!

Returning to Patriots Point, we toured the USS Laffey destroyer and USS Clagmore submarine before taking another shot at the Yorktown. This time we walked through the galley where we saw the Navy's super scientific recipe for Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwiches (Sandwiches No.N 014 00).

Ingredient:

  • Bread, White
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly, Grape

Method:

  1. Spread each slice of bread with 1 Tb peanut butter. Spread 1 slice bread with 1 Tb jelly. Top with second slice.
  2. Cut each sandwich in half.

Notes:

  1. in step 1, jam may be used.

And that, boys and girls, is how we won the war.

Banksy was here

More to Come.

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Back in 2012, I swore that I would visit the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins before my brother moved out of that town. Obviously, that didn't work out. But I finally made good on that promise to myself and visited the museum a couple of hours before closing on my way back from Jacksonville.

Worth it just for this

The museum's exhibits are surprisingly accessible. You can walk right up to some of the most impressive aircraft in U.S. Air Force history, like the A-10 and SR-71. It's the only way to appreciate the scale and power of these vehicles you see so often in movies and video games.

For years, the Air Force denied this plane existed; now you can touch it for free

Exhibits cover the history of military aviation and are divided among several hangers, mostly by era. Be forewarned that some of the exhibits are a little text heavy. If you want to learn something, be prepared to read.

You can touch some of the exhibits, but some you wouldn't want to

It was totally worth the wait. I'll be going again, hopefully with more time to spare. One of the docents told us that there would soon be an Osprey on display. That's something to look forward to!

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Day 5, the final day of my vacation, was all about energy. Specifically the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and its associated bus tour.

Shhh. Top secret.

Coop had found the Department of Energy's Public Bus Tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratories online and became determined that we should partake. A 3-hour tour of the Manhattan Project sites for the bargain price of only $5. How could I refuse?

A plaque makes it official

The AMSE itself isn't very entertaining. Its displays are text-heavy, so the experience is more like walking through a textbook than visiting bits of history. The bus tour picks up the pieces. The tour visits the Oak Ridge "Secret City" sites Y-12 National Security Complex, the X-10 graphite reactor, the abandoned Bethel Valley Church, and the site of the former K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. If that sounds kind of cool, it's because it is.

Look but don't touch

The highlight of the tour is X-10, the world's first nuclear reactor designed for continuous operation. The reactor was added to the National Registrar of Historic Landmarks in 1966, only three years after it was decommissioned. Hard to believe that a giant pile of inert carbon was instrumental in ending World War II.

You've come a long way, baby

It was purely by accident that Coop and I later in the day passed the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant south of Knoxville. It turns out that Watts Bar contains the most recent nuclear power generator to come online in the United States. From the country's oldest to newest reactors in one afternoon? What a vacation!

Find more info on the American Museum of Science and Energy at amse.org.

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The first day of my vacation was dedicated to travel, the second to animals, and the third to the amusement park. My fourth day of vacation was dedicated to architecture.

Mansfield State Reformatory

We had passed the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, late on Tuesday, and on Thursday we returned for the full experience. Self-guided tours were only $9. That's a bargain to wander around a giant decaying prison unsupervised.

Don't look up: you might get falling lead-based paint in your eyes

Opened in 1896, Mansfield has the world's largest freestanding steel cell block. The tour route takes advantage of this and leads you through the chapel to the top of the cell block stack where you get to descend six stories to the floor. It's a long walk, and more than a little frightening when you think that you are only being supported by century-old, decaying metal.

The west block shower room has a nice wall to bend over

Periodic interactive displays on the tour describe the building's history. There's a heavy emphasis on Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One, both filmed here in the early 90s. Among other sights, you'll see the tunnel that Andy crawled through and the beam from which Brooks hanged himself. It's like visiting a studio backlot!

You can read more about the reformatory at www.ohiostatereformatory.org.

Cincinnati Union Terminal

Next stop was the Union Terminal in Cincinnati. This 1931 train station has been converted into a museum center. We arrived too late to go to the museums, but the building itself was worth the visit. (You may notice a similarity between this building and the Super Friends' Hall of Justice. That's no coincidence.)

Nothing beats deco

This was the second train station I visited in a 48-hour period. We had wandered through Tower City Center (formerly the Cleveland Union Terminal) on Tues. Tower City was significantly altered when adapted for use as a mall, but the Cincinnati Union Terminal maintains its original style (and many of the original fixtures). I don't think any photo can do full justice to its glorious Broadway-style signage or technicolor mosaics.

The future: mosaics of glass in a building of steel and concrete

When looking at the harsh geometrical shapes of a deco-styled building, I'm always left wondering why buildings aren't made this way anymore. Everyone needs a little art in their life. They might as well have some in their buildings, too.

You can read more about the Cincinnati Union Terminal at www.cincymuseum.org.

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For months, Mom has been bugging me to schedule a time to accompany her to the Picasso to Warhol exhibit at the Atlanta High Museum of Art. Since the exhibit finally closes this week, I at last acquiesced, and we went to the exhibit on Wednesday.

Mom hated it.

The exhibit included some very famous works by Romare Bearden, Louise Bourgeois, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Giorgio De Chirico, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol. I admit, I'm no fan of the early 20th-century abstractionists either. I personally cannot related to the cold aesthetic of Miró, Mondrian, or Picasso. I can't respect Matisse or Pollock, neither of whom could paint any better than kindergartners. I consider so much of the work of Brancusi, Calder, and Johns to be little more than decoration (which I don't disparage but also don't find worship worthy). Fortunately, the exhibition did include works by Duchamp and Warhol, who I admire for their shared "anything you can get away with is art" moxie.

Mom spent her brief time in the exhibition hall pushing politely past the headset-wearing crowd of audio-tourists. Even a casual observer would have noticed that she was determined to spend as little time among these "masterpieces" as possible. I finally caught up to her in the gift shop, where she spent more time looking at MOMA-branded furniture and postcards of Atlanta landmarks than at any work by those so-called 20th-century masters.

Beauty, it seems, is in the eye of the shopper.

Their heating bills must be astronomical!

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Douglas Adams once wrote an environmental travelogue called Last Chance to See in which he encouraged his readers to take the time to partake of our endangered environment before it was all gone. My mother, brother, and I took him up on his advice this Memorial Day weekend. Only we didn't go look at any stupid animals; we visited the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Why go in? 'Current Exhibit: Music' really says it all.

The Georgia Music Hall of Fame was established in Macon, Georgia -- the geographical center of the state and former home of Gregg Allman, Little Richard, and Otis Redding -- in 1996. After years of non-existent crowds and state budget cuts, the museum's doors will be permanently shuttered on June 12 and the exhibits moved to storage in Athens -- spawning ground of the B-52s, R.E.M., and Widespread Panic. We had never been, so mom decided that it was now or never.

Empty, just like the foreclosed homes throughout Georgia!

The design of the Hall of Fame exhibits is somewhere between audacious and boneheaded. The main exhibit hall is meant to evoke the look of a small town with homes and businesses dedicated to particular genres. However, the individual exhibits lack any noticeable panache or gravitas. It's a lot like looking at a city-wide yard-sale with fancy signs. Or it would be, if there were any people around.

Is that a page from a comic book?

Like the small Georgia town it emulates, it's pretty clear that the museum is a pale reflection of better times. Identifying numbers had fallen off some exhibits. Whole rooms were empty of anything of historical value. In the "Music Factory" children's wing, used flip-flop soles stood in for pipe-organ valves, and the buttons meant to play the sounds of various musical instruments only played the Windows 95 error chord. Sadly, Windows 95 was one of the few things I saw that obviously belonged in a museum!

How you know you are in a museum.

When the doors are locked for the last time, I'm sure the museum will be missed by more than just its 2 full-time and 6 part-time employees. It's not without its charm or educational value, but it is hard to imagine anyone going out of their way to Macon to see the place. After all, it isn't like it has ever been featured on Oprah.

It's no Varsity.

I'm glad we went, but I won't be spedning any time mourning its passing. That's just another dirge we can do without.

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To be continued...

 

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