May 31, 2009

The National Museum of Ireland

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:52 pm by classicalmusic

If you are visiting Ireland, a great stop where you can spend the whole day and learn about Irish history is the National Museum of Ireland. The Museum boasts a marvelous collection of exhibits and artifacts that teach about Irish history from pre-historic times all the way up to the present day. Actually, the National Museum of Ireland is not just one stop, it is four. In four separate locations — three of them very close to one another, the museum’s collections are on display and one combined price ticket will get you into all of them. The different locations are divided by the contents of the collections. For example, in Dublin, on Kildare Street is the museum’s archeology wing. Ancient irish artifacts are on display, some of them thousands of years old. Through a careful study of these artifacts, archeologists have pieced together the story of life in Ancient Ireland. It is that story that continues to fascinate visitors. Within a few blocks is the Museum’s “Decorative Arts and History” collection. This impressive collection is hosted in a former military barracks. The collection includes examples of silver, ceramics, glassware, weaponry, furniture, folk-life, clothing, jewelry, coins and medals. Each display tells a story so that visitors not only see these objects but get a real sense of how they were used. Probably the most interesting current exhibit is “Soldiers and Chiefs: The Irish at War at Home and Abroad from 1550.” This exhibit catalogs Irish military history from its earliest times. Examples of the real weapons used over the years are fascinating. Other branches of the Museum include Country Life wing which pays homage to rural Ireland and the Museum of National History (also in Dublin). The Museum of National History is closed temporarily as much needed renovations are performed. It is expected to reopen with the year, so be sure to call ahead when planning your trip. If you visit all four branches, you will need more than a single day. If you just have a day and need to pick one, I recommend you choose the “Decorative Arts and History” facility. It has by far the largest and most varied collection. It is especially useful of your priority is to learn about Irish history in an entertaining way that you will not forget. Then if you have time, pop down the street for the Archeological wing. This visit can really complete your Irish vacation.


May 24, 2009

The Museum of Tolerance

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:29 am by classicalmusic

One of the most intriguing concepts in museums is the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. What started as a monument to victims of the Holocaust has become a major institutions that teaches topics on a global scale.

The Museum boasts that it is not a museum of artifacts and documents, it is a museum of emotions. What this really means is that the visitor is thrust into a world of hate and forced to confront whatever personal prejudices he or she might have.

For example, one exhibit is set up as a 1950’s style diner. At each table, a conversation can be heard that would have been typical of the time. Racism and prejudice are served up along with sandwiches and then the visitor gets an opportunity to join the conversation. No one walks away the same after a visit to this “diner.”

Another exhibit teaches about global intolerance. Displays that document the genocides of Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur are gripping in their directness. A visitor realizes how intolerance can lead to murder on a grand scale when left unchecked. Yet, it is not an exhibit of despair. The visitor is encouraged to come up with solutions for these vexing situations and is then shown how these issues can be dealt with.

Of course, the Museum is grounded in its best known exhibit, that dealing with the Holocaust. yet rather than just displaying the “shock value” artifacts of other Holocaust Museums, the Museum of Tolerance tries to show the human side of the tragedy. How unchecked anti-Semitism led to whole-scale murder. Gripping pictures show how typical people were dehumanized and treated as animals.

The lessons of the Museum are clear. Any type of intolerance — when allowed to grow — can lead to genocide. Seemingly innocent jokes told to friends at a diner, can be the foundation of mass murder. Hopefully, the visitor will leave the museum as a different person and will always be on the lookout for intolerance.

May 17, 2009

The Ice Cream Museum

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 7:20 am by classicalmusic

Who were the first people to eat ice cream? If you said the Ancient Egyptians, you are either very smart or you have recently visited America’s Ice Cream and Dairy Museum at the historic Elm Farm in Medina, Wisconsin. This unusual museum is housed in the renovated Elm Farm dairy plant. Elm Farm was the last family owned dairy in all of Medina county. While Medina was at one time the country’s largest dairy farming community, one by one the family farms closed down, unable to compete with the giant dairy agro-businesses that were taking over the dairy industry. Finally, only Elm Farm was left. Elm Farm showcases the history of the dairy cow, ice cream and milk, from its beginnings in ancient Egypt through its evolution in America. Kids and grown ups alike will love seeing one of the largest collections of ice cream and dairy antiques and collectibles in the country. Some of the things you will see on your visit to the Elm Farm Dairy Museum include a 1890 milk wagon, milking machines, the first milk trucks, butter churns, cream separators, cheese making equipment, and a display of a 1940’s dairy plant, signs, artwork. Kids can even climb on a lot of the exhibits and try their hand at the real butter churn. Of course the main attraction at the museum is the exhibit showcasing the history of ice cream. As you go through the exhibit, you start learning about the earliest beginnings of ice cream to the present day. Kids can learn about the ice cream parlors that are now all but obsolete yet used to be such an important component of American culture.

May 11, 2009

The Tobacco Farm Museum

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:57 am by classicalmusic

Although it may not be for everyone, anyone who wants to understand the culture of family tobacco farms in North Carolina must visit the Tobacco Family Farm Museum in Kenley, North Carolina. For over twenty years, the Tobacco Farm Museum has been preserving the history and cultural heritage of tobacco farmers living in Eastern North Carolina. The museum was actually initiated by a few local families who were proud of their past and had a strong volunteer spirit. With modern technology rendering the way of life of their parents and grandparents obsolete, these families wanted to be able to show future generations this special history of the Eastern North Carolina tobacco farms. The museum is now internationally recognized and accredited. Thousands of visitors every year come to Kenley to learn about the old family farms. The museum’s staff continues to interpret and present this important rural legacy to all those who come. When you visit the museum, it looks more like a farm than an actual exhibit. The farm includes a homestead with detached kitchen, a smokehouse, the barn where tobacco leaves would be left to dry, and even the outhouse is restored. (Don’t worry, a more traditional bathroom is available for all visitors who need to use the facilities. In total, the museum is over 6,000 square feet. In addition to the permanent exhibit, the museum hosts rotating exhibits on farm life, southern medicine, domestic skills, rural social life, and artifacts. Overall, the visit results in a great time for the whole family. You almost forget that the purpose of the museum is educational.

May 3, 2009

The Lofotr Viking Museum

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:18 am by classicalmusic

Do the tales of the ancient Viking fascinate you? Well, if you happen to be in Norway, you must go the the Lofotr Viking Museum in Northern Norway. This museum is actually a reconstruction of a Viking Chieftain’s home in Norway. It is a small village and volunteers wearing period costumes wander about and teach visitors about the ancient Viking way of life. See the wooden vessels upon which the Viking set out from Norway and sailed the world. Learn about the agriculture that was the basis of Viking communities. While the men went to sea frequently, the woman made sure that there would always be plenty of food harvested from the communal farms. When the men returned from their conquests, there would be communal celebrations lasting several days in a row. You can experience all that at the Lofotr museum. You even get to eat the hearty Viking soup in the celebration hall as you learn more about the Vikings. Did you know that long before Europeans sailed the oceans, the Viking were already crossing them in their tiny ships? How could these ships stay afloat through Atlantic Ocean storms. The Viking volunteers explain everything to you and if you still have questions, they will be glad to answer them while you eat your delicious and hearty Viking soup. Just don’t leave without your Viking t-shirt. You will want to tell everyone back home where you were and what you did. When you finish at the museum it is just a short drive to the world famous Norwegian fjords. Stay at any one of the dozens of great spas in Northern Norway and your trip will be complete.