Museum Quality

Art Education News

About museums, famed illustrator and writer Maira Kalman once said “A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives. Go to museums as often as you can.”

May 18 is International Museum Day and, coincidentally, we have several museum projects in the works right now at 3DWW, to add to our expanding list of interesting and informative destinations. Maybe because the topic comes up so often lately, some of us have shared reminiscences of museum experiences that have had meaning for us.

My colleague Jamie splits his vote between the profound and the, well, more profane.

“I don’t really consider myself a guy who enjoys museums. I had to stop and think. Could I really remember anything about the major museums that I have visited in my life? Actuall, two stick in my mind.

The first is the Holocaust Museum. There is no end of accounts of the Holocaust in history books and on the internet, but nothing will prepare you for the emotional impact that the museum will have on you. Looking back now, I was a child who at the age of 15 or so was barely old enough to comprehend what was in front of him. The profound sadness of what I saw stays with me to this day. It reminds me then no matter what my struggles, they are nothing in comparison to what an entire race of people faced for an extended length of time. Knowing that I have nothing to complain about when faced with minor injustices that occur in my daily life.

The second museum that affected me deeply may not even be a museum in many people’s eyes, but I will remember it till I die. That was Graceland.

Because I’m in a wheelchair some of the areas of this amazing place were off-limits to me, but what I saw was inspiring. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I can’t sing or play an instrument but music ‘moves my soul’ to quote a line from a song written by a friend.

I remember seeing all of the gold records on display and thinking to myself ‘I want to be on that level. I want to inspire people like this man. I want to have a lasting impact as he did.’ {I also came away from the visit wanting a jungle room!) I still strive for all those things today.

 Museums remind us what we were and Inspire us to dream of what we can be.”

This writer’s own fondest museum memories come not from a dramatic place like the Holocaust Museum or an iconic landmark like Graceland, but from a modest community museum in Manchester, Connecticut – where I spent some of my formative years.

The Lutz Junior Museum (now the Lutz Children’s Museum) was, in 1959, five years old and I was 8. Every few weeks, my brothers and I would get in the car, and Dad would drive us to a simple frame building that was the home of the museum. The building itself was a museum of sorts – it was 100 years old and had been constructed as a two-room schoolhouse for the children of the owners and the workers of the big manufacturing business in town.

We always ran out of the car to see which of us could be the first to get inside to see what was new! Would we learn about one of the local native tribes who originally inhabited our area, or maybe the settlers who came later as the US was just being formed? What new birds or critters might be on display, stuffed and mounted realistically for us to marvel over? (And would we have conquered our fears of the giant grizzly just inside the entrance THIS trip?). Of course, many of the interesting exhibits we would be seeing for the second, or third, or umpteenth time, but you could always count on seeing and learning something new and being amazed and delighted.

And, on the way out, we would always have to try the mystery box. This was a hollow wooden box into one side of which a round whole had been cut and curtained in velvet (so you couldn’t see in, of course!). Each child would reach inside and try to identify, by touch alone, the object within. Perhaps this week it would be a starfish, or maybe a small beaded whalebone needle case from the Pequot Tribe. Maybe we could guess that we were touching a line of type from a colonial era printing press, or a fossilized bone from millennia before the revolution. Whatever was inside, the fun of trying to figure it out was always the best way to close out a visit!

Do you have a favorite museum story you would like to share? Leave us a comment here. And don’t forget to visit and stroll through one, or two, or all of our online virtual museums. You can even invite a few friends and make a day of it, just like we did so many years ago.

By the way, the grizzly bear is gone, “retired” a few years ago.

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