Category Archives: History

Museum of Jurassic Technology

Los Angeles, California is home of today’s “Museum of the Day,” the quirky and wonderful Museum of Jurassic Technology.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a museum located at 9341 Venice Boulevard in the Palms district of Los Angeles, California (although it has a postal address of Culver City because it is served by that city’s post office). It was founded by David Hildebrand Wilson and Diana Drake Wilson (husband and wife) in 1988.

The museum calls itself “an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic”; the relevance of the term “Lower Jurassic” to the museum’s collections is left uncertain and unexplained. The museum’s collection includes a mixture of artistic, scientific, ethnographic, and historic, as well as some unclassifiable exhibits, and the diversity of its offerings evokes the cabinets of curiosities that were the 16th-century predecessors of modern natural history museums. The factual claims of many of the museum’s exhibits strain credibility, provoking an array of interpretations from commentators. The museum was the subject of a 1995 book by Lawrence Weschler entitled Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, And Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology, which describes in detail many of its exhibits. David Hildebrand Wilson received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2001. The museum is also mentioned in the novel The Museum of Innocence, by Nobel-laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Sounds interesting, no? I look forward to a trip to California soon!

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National September 11 Memorial Museum

Museum Pavillion NightNew York City, New York, home of some of the best museums in the world, recently opened the National September 11 Memorial Museum, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

Highly criticized for its alleged insensitivity in treating the space as “sacred” because the designers added retail spaces above ashes of the victims of 9/11, this museum deserves our attention today for many reasons.

The National September 11 Memorial Museum serves as the country’s principal institution concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring 9/11’s continuing significance.

I look forward to my visit later this month!

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NB: After a 3 month hiatus, Museum of the Day returns to help advance the dissemination of knowledge about the plethora of great institutions that collect, keep, and interpret the world around us. Thank you all for your continued support!

International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame

9278b6988f4a14b792298a2ff607fb3eArlington, Texas is home to the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

I knew about this museum when it was still based in St. Louis, Missouri. We had a great group party at this museum during one of the American Alliance of Museum annual meetings in the gateway city.

The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame collects, preserves and exhibits the 5,000-year history of the worldwide sport of bowling.  From the ancient Egyptians to British monarchs to an enterprising German immigrant, follow the sport’s journey from archeological digs… to American taverns…  to today’s cutting-edge computer assisted training centers.  No visit to the International Bowling Campus is complete without experiencing the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.

I look forward to seeing this newer version of the museum I experienced in Missouri.

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Maryland Historical Society

mining-1Baltimore, Maryland is home to one of the many state historical societies in the U.S., the Maryland Historical Society, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) features Maryland’s largest and most comprehensive Civil War exhibit. The impact of the war on the people of Maryland is told on personal terms in “Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War.” The largest Civil War exhibit in the museum’s 167-year history occupies over 5,000 square feet and tells the story of a tragedy in three acts: the romantic war, the real war and the long reunion.

Founded in 1844, the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) is the state’s oldest continuously operating cultural institution. In keeping with the founders’ commitment to preserve the remnants of Maryland’s past, MdHS remains the premier institution for state history. With over 350,000 objects and seven million books and documents, this institution now serves upward of 100,000 people through its through museum, library, press, and educational programs.

MdHS is located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1992, artist Fred Wilson created “Mining the Museum”, a historical exhibition for MdHS , which was quite provocative. Museum exhibit designers and educators still reference his ability to reinterpret history with simple changes to labeling and presentation.

I will visit this museum very soon!

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Related article: https://collectingseminar.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/fred-wilson-re-presents-history-and-objects-by-maria-gaspar/

Witte Museum

1175366_f520San Antonio, Texas is where you’ll find today’s “Museum of the Day,” the Witte Museum.

Located on the banks of the beautiful San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park, the Witte Museum is San Antonio’s premier museum focusing on South Texas history, science and water resources.

The story of the Witte Museum is one of community vision and dedication that created an institution and has sustained it for 80 years. It is the story of men and women from diverse walks of life whose creativity was challenged as they raised funds literally one penny at a time to establish the museum that we still enjoy three quarters of a century later. The Witte Museum has proven as resilient as those who founded it. It has survived the Depression and wars, and in the 21st century remains the most heavily visited of San Antonio’s museums.

San Antonio was a modern, thriving town in the early twentieth century, but lacked many of the cultural institutions that marked other great American cities. Notably, there was no public museum. Local residents relied on privately owned exhibits of art and zoological collections to provide them a glimpse of the wonders of the artistic and natural world. Unlike other cities, San Antonio in the early 1900s had no men and women of extravagant wealth to build their cultural institutions. Instead, the Witte Museum was the product of a disparate group of individuals that included the owner of a large natural history collection, H.P. Attwater, prominent clubwomen including Lena McAllister and Ethel Tunstall Drought, and Mayor John Tobin. They were inspired by a local high school teacher, Ellen Schulz, who envisioned a public museum for the enjoyment of all San Antonians.

Ellen Schulz was aware that H.P. Attwater’s renowned collection was for sale, and after seeing it in 1922 she became determined to acquire it for San Antonio. By early 1923, schoolchildren were standing on street corners calling, “Spare a dime?” and community leaders had formed an organization they called the San Antonio Museum Association to assist in the effort. Through sales of bluebonnets, cakes and performances of “Peter Pan” and “Los Pastores,” the community contributed $6,200 to purchase the Attwater Collection, install it at Main Avenue High School, and open the city’s first public museum on October 8, 1923.

Even before the museum opened, Lena McAllister suggested to Schulz that a formal museum be organized and constructed. The idea took hold as the Attwater Collection’s popularity inspired other donors and the museum soon outgrew its home. By 1924, Schulz, accompanied by her friend and high school principal, Emma Gutzeit, visited Mayor Tobin to enlist the city’s support to build a museum. Though the mayor reportedly first inquired, “What is a museum?” he was eventually converted to the cause. He was even convinced by Ethel Tunstall Drought, president of the San Antonio Art League, that the museum needed a second story where her organization’s growing art collection could be displayed. Led by Tobin, the city committed land in San Pedro Park, and on June 22, 1925, approved $25,000 for construction of the building. Ground was broken for the new museum on September 22, 1925, and then, two days later, local businessman Alfred G. Witte died.

Museum advocates and the mayor were not aware that Alfred Witte, in his will dated June 6, 1921, bequeathed $65,000 to the City of San Antonio for construction of a museum of art, science and natural history to be located in Brackenridge Park and named for his parents. Within three weeks of Witte’s death, work was halted on the San Pedro Park museum and Mayor Tobin and Park Commissioner Ray Lambert selected a new location at the “third entrance” to Brackenridge Park (today Tuleta Drive) on River Avenue (today Broadway). Architect Robert Ayres shifted building materials to the site, enlarged the museum design to include two wings made possible by Witte’s generosity, and construction proceeded. Less than one year later, at a grand community celebration on October 8, 1926, the Witte Memorial Museum opened to the public. Anticipating the future, the San Antonio Express-News remarked, “The Witte Memorial Museum has a great field of service before it.” It was the realization of many dreams and the beginning of a long and interesting story.

I know a few staff members at the Witte, and look forward to visiting with them when I’m in San Antonio again. It’s always a welcoming place to visit!

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Mütter Museum

mutter-museum-philadelphia-587Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to today’s “Museum of the Day” – the Mütter Museum, one of the most unusual and surprising museums that is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

America’s finest museum of medical history, the Mütter displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a 19th century “cabinet museum” setting. The goal of the Museum is to help the public understand the mysteries and beauty of the human body while appreciating the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.

The Collection began as a donation from Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter, who was determined to improve and reform medical education. The donation stipulated that the College had to hire a Curator, maintain and expand the collection, fund annual lectures and erect a brick building to house the collection. Since 1858, the College has held true to its promise to Dr. Mütter. Today the museum enjoys steadily rising international popularity, including a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel and two best-selling books.

I love the museum and will definitely make a trip to Philadelphia to see this one again, and to take in all the cultural organizations in one of my favorite cities in the United States.

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Moundville Archaeological Park & Museum

moundmuseumTuscaloosa, Alabama is home to the Moundville Archaeological Park and is today’s “Museum of the Day”.

Opened and dedicated on May 16, 1939 at what was then known as “Mound State Monument,” built with labor from the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1999, The University of Alabama Museums began a comprehensive effort to rebuild and redefine the museum, resulting in a $5 million renovation completed in 2010. Today, the museum combines the latest technology with more than 200 stunning artifacts to describe one of the most significant Native American archaeological sites in the United States.

Outside, visitors are greeted by symbols of the Native American culture mounted on enormous wooden heraldic poles. Inside, visitors will find life-size figures displaying the clothing and jewelry of Mississippian cultures, ceremonial feather decorations hand-sewn by Native-American artists, stunning pottery and other artworks placed in display cases that light up when recorded narratives talk about them and three-dimensional, moving depiction of a Native American maker of medicine who appears in a reconstructed earthlodge, taking them on a journey into the afterlife.

Archaeological sites have always fascinated me, and I hope to visit this one sometime in the coming year!

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Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

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Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

I have not been to Santa Fe yet and have an urge to make it top of the list for 2014. It’s been beckoning me with the diversity of cultures there, and it’s reputation for a vibrant arts community alive with some of the best artists from all kinds of traditions.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, one of four museums in the Museum of New Mexico system, is a premier repository of Native art and material culture and tells the stories of the people of the Southwest from pre-history through contemporary art. The museum serves a diverse, multicultural audience through changing exhibitions, public lectures, field trips, artist residencies, and other educational programs.

More than 65,000 visitors come to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture each year, of which 30% hail from New Mexico, 50% from other states, and 20% from foreign countries. It is MIAC’s mission to provide cross-cultural education to the many visitors to Santa Fe who take part in our programs and to New Mexican residents throughout the state. It is especially important that MIAC serve the Indian communities in our state and throughout the Southwest whose contemporary and ancestral cultures are represented in the museum’s collections.

I look forward to visiting this museum soon!

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Airborne & Special Operations Museum

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Fayetteville, North Caroline is home to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum which is today’s “Museum of the Day”.

For more than eighty years Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, Cumberland County and North Carolina have lived and worked in cooperation with one another. The Airborne & Special Operations Museum now stands as a symbol for many years of teamwork, sacrifice, and victory.

The Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation provides marketing and advertising efforts to the non-military community in support of the ongoing mission of the United States Army’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum (ASOM). The ASOM serves as an adjunct to the local academic and cultural community and provides military history of the airborne and special operations soldiers, from 1940 to the present, to active duty soldiers, veterans, their families and the public at large. The Foundation conducts private and public fundraising efforts in support of this mission, ongoing ASOM programs, and future exhibit support.

The Airborne & Special Operations Museum is part of the U.S. Army Museum System and functions in partnership with a non-profit foundation. The Foundation Board of Directors is composed of retired military, veteran military and civilian members from both the public and private sectors.

Both public and private funding has been vital to the opening of the $22.5 million museum. Fundraising by the Foundation began in 1992 with a generous grant awarded from Congress. In addition to the federal grant, the State of North Carolina, Cumberland County, and the City of Fayetteville have provided grants to the museum.

I hope to visit the museum on my travels around the country. It looks like a great experience!

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Strawbery Banke Museum

Strawbery_Banke_copyPortsmouth, New Hampshire is home to today’s “Museum of the Day,” an amazing living history museum that features 10-acres of outdoor history.

Strawbery Banke Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is dedicated to bringing 300* years of American history to life. Strawbery Banke is a place to learn about architecture, heritage plants and foodways, traditional crafts and the tools, clothing and collections people used for everyday life in the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s and up through 1954 when the site was saved from urban renewal.

The museum is a place for children, adults, multigenerational families and groups to gather to explore heritage gardens, historic buildings and crafts, preservation programs, hands-on activities, the stories told by costumed role-players, hands-on traditional crafts  and the changing exhibits that offer hours of fun and discovery. The museum’s restored buildings and open space invite visitors to immerse themselves in the past.

Strawbery Banke is a sustainable place that preserves and enlivens three centuries of war and peace in the same New England waterfront neighborhood. Each year the museum welcomes 75,000 visitors, members, schoolchildren and volunteers who love New Hampshire history for daily programs, exhibits and signature special events from May through December.

I look forward to a visit when I travel to New England this summer!

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