Tag Archives: science

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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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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Peoria Riverfront Museum

museum_close-b8b890bdd65842ec512aaf73e08634bdPeoria, Illinois, my hometown, is where you will find today’s “Museum of the Day”.

The Peoria Riverfront Museum is a one-of-a-kind collaboration where visitors can explore and learn about the world—from our own backyards to far-off galaxies. We focus on interdisciplinary learning—a fusion of art, history, science, and achievement designed to develop knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a lifelong passion for learning.

We’re the only museum in downstate Illinois to be affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. We also strive to bring to the region exciting national and international exhibitions. Our goal is to offer exhibits that visitors might normally have to travel great distances to experience.

Our programs are an extension of the classroom—engaging the community, empowering teachers, and exciting and educating students.

The Museum is a collaborative effort of eight organizations with nearly 500 years of combined experience educating, entertaining and supporting culture in the Peoria area. For more than 10 years, these entities worked tirelessly to bring to life a one-of-a-kind experience for the people of central Illinois and beyond.

Our collective objective is to provide interdisciplinary learning opportunities for people of all ages, create a diverse and cultural campus in the heartland, and positively impact our region’s economy.

A far cry from the Lakeview Museum & Planetarium that I grew up with, I am looking forward to a trip to see my family and explore the great new building that is now on the riverfront of the Illinois River.

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Liberty Science Center

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Located in Jersey City, New Jersey, today’s “Museum of the Day” is one of my favorites! Liberty Science Center is a 300,000-square-foot learning center located in Liberty State Park on the Jersey City bank of the Hudson near the Statue of Liberty.

Dedicated to bringing the excitement of science to people of all ages, Liberty Science Center houses 12 museum exhibition halls, a live animal collection with 110 species, giant aquariums, a 3D theater, the nation’s largest IMAX Dome Theater, live simulcast surgeries, tornado and hurricane-force wind simulators, K-12 classrooms and labs, and teacher-development programs. More than half a million students, teachers, and parents visit the Science Center each year, and tens of thousands more participate in the Center’s offsite and online programs.

It may seem like I have a bias for art museums, but I also love a great science museum! This one is no exception to getting me excited about science.

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California Academy of Sciences

calacademyToday’s “Museum of the Day” continues our exploration of “green” museums, but this one is dedicated to science.

The California Academy of Sciences is another great example of an environmentally friendly  museum. The CAS is the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof.  It’s a stunning architectural achievement with hundreds of unique exhibits and nearly 40,000 live animals. Designed by famed museum architect Renzo Piano, his masterstroke of design lies in making the park’s environment such a visible part of the building itself. Situated in the enormous Golden Gate Park across from the de Young Art Museum, the CAS rooftop features seven undulating green hillocks which pay homage to the iconic topography of San Francisco and blurs the boundary between building and parkland. The museum is a LEED certified building and is the largest public Platinum-rated building in the world and the world’s greenest museum with a total score of 54 points. The California Academy of Sciences is a MUST SEE for anyone visiting San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the United States and an amazing destination for museum lovers.

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