International Museum Day

International Museum Day

This morning, reading my morning social media feed provided a moment of serendipity. One of the posts reminded me that it was International Museum Day. Just recently, after assigning my writer’s circle students to write on a the events of a specific day in history, one completed the work for the date of May 18th, informitng me of International Museum Day. It was the first I’d heard of this designation and now, it had popped up again, only a couple of weeks later!

I’ve been fornuate to have been able to visit some wonderful museums. My travels include several international museums as well some closer to home.  I think my fascination with museums stems from an 8th grade field trip to the Toronto Science Center.  The other attractant that draws me to museums is that I love information!

Some of the museums recommended to visit in the United States are the following:

  • Franklin Institute – Philadelphia PA
  • The Air and Space Museum in San Diego, California
  • The Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington, D.C.
    • The Air and Space Museum is a favorite and one I have been to several times in my life, sharing it with my parents, my husband, and my boys – all on separate occasions. If you like space flight and airplanes, it is the place to go!
    • The Natural History Museum is also a favorite of mine, having much to offer my curiosity about science and our natural world.
  • Also in Washington, D.C., is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. We took our teen boys to this museum in the summer of 2015. It is a sad and serious place that loudly reviberates the atrocities that humans can commit against each other. I would d like to say it should not be missed, but it is not for everyone. It might be too emotionally draining and definitely not something I would do with young children.
  • Being from Rochester, New York, a trip to the George Eastman Museum (and House) is necessary to for any visiting photographer or local resident fascinated with the lore of the Eastman Kodak Company.
  • Also in Rochester is the The Strong – National Museum of Play. This is what I would deem a pre-eminent children’s museum. It has something for everyone and probably bears repeat visits or membership if you are a local family in that region. I’ve been to other children’s museums around the country, including Madison, WI and even volunteered in our local children’s museum in La Crosse, WI, but nothing has ever surpassed The Strong! Of course their numerous and generous endowments allow this museum to continue to be top notch. One cannot reasonable expect other children’s museum to compete without simlar funding.
  • Philadelphia is filled with museums, and the Franklin Institute, mentioned above is filled with interesting exhibits.  One must visit Independence Mall, which has numerous museum like venues but is run by the National Park Service. Gettysburg is another place I would highly suggest visiting that has several museums or museum like exhibits.

Internationally, the following museums are interesting –

There is more about my visits to these Dutch museums in an earlier post on the Dutch artist, Vermeer.

As you can tell, I think museums are great places to visit. If you are able, start going to a few local museums with your children.  If they are exposed early to museums, they will develop an ability to appreciate the exhibits and time spent learning about our world!

Happy International Museum Day!

 

Fascinated with Vermeer

Fascinated with Vermeer

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One thing I have realized as I have aged is that I have a creative soul. My past should have included more art history and art classes in high school and even at the college I attended as a young nursing student, which boasts one of the best fine art schools in the country!

Shortly before it was decided that I would travel to The Netherlands last September, I began reading The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier. This story, fictional of course, is based on a famous painting by the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. I devoured the book. So you can imagine my excitement when I found that Vermeer’s masterpiece is housed in the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, the exact city where we would be staying for five nights.

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Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, Netherlands, September 2016

Den Haag, The Nederlands, or The Hague in Holland, which more Americans might call it, could be an art lover’s destination!  The Hague is known as the International City of Peace and Justice. There are a multitude of museums curated with every taste in mind.  Picasso and Rembrandt pieces are also found at the Maruitshuis Museum. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist famous for his tessellation’s has his own museum where many recognizable pieces can be found. While Van Gogh, and even a Frank Lloyd Wright piece, were noted at the Gemeente Museum, their current focus was on Mondrian & De Stijl. Never having seen so many masterpieces at once, I was mesmerized. But, nothing captured my anticipation than the possibility of seeing Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (TedEd video on this artwork) at the Mauritshuis. It didn’t disappoint.  Vermeer’s technique using of light to highlight the mysterious girl in the painting is captivating. And then, there is the nearly 400 year mystery of who the girl in the painting represented. Was she a real person?

My fascination with Vermeer didn’t end after seeing the painting. On we went, the following day, to the City of Delft, where Vermeer lived and worked. He is one of the city’s most prominent historical figures. Easily reached by a 30 minute inter-city bus ride, Delft is a quaint mix of centuries old buildings, new shops, canals, and bistros.  Vermeer lies buried in Oude Kerk or the Old Church in the city of Delft. It was built in 1246. The stained glass was replaced around WWII but is still beautiful as the windows surround a wooden ceiling.  On the floor, you will see Vermeer’s final resting place marked with an embossed stone, amongst other grave markers.Unfortunately, you can walk on the grave markers, as they are mostly flat, being part of the floor itself. Some of them are very worn.  I did not feel comfortable taking a photo of his grave, but think the beauty of the ceiling is captured in the photo below.

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Despite our trip being six months ago, I remain fascinated with Vermeer and actually, all things Dutch. There is much to see in The Netherlands and I hope to be able to go back one day. In the meantime, I provided myself with my own art history lesson to feed my creative soul.