Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Question of Children's Museums

Check out this article, published last week in the NY Times: Museum Review - Brooklyn Children's Museum Re-Opening. It's an interesting and thought-provoking piece. Here are some of the questions that it raised with me:
  • What is the difference between children's museums and aquariums, zoos, etc.?
  • Why are all museums, as the article points out, now children's museums?
  • How much learning goes on when play is the focus? Is it the enjoyable means to an educational end or merely fun?
  • "Many museums, serving far less troubled neighborhoods than this one does (Crown Heights) are coming to think of themselves as community centers and alternative schools." NEMA's 2008 conference theme is "sustaining community," I wonder how this might be related?
Not sure I have any of the answers to these questions yet, but I'm happy to be pondering them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Religion & Art Navigating Tough Political Situations

Interesting story in the Boston Globe this week: Massachusetts Museum to Display Precious Icons from Russia. Despite the current tenor of relations between the U.S. and Russia, the "Museum of Russian Icons said Thursday that the State Tretyakov Gallery of Moscow has agreed to send 16 of its most precious icons there for display."

The exhibit on iconography will be on display from
Oct. 16 to May 1 at the relatively small museum, located in Clinton, MA. According to the article, the exhibit was almost canceled because of the current hostility between Russia and the United States, but was salvaged eventually. How interesting would it have been to have been privy to the details of those negotiations!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Of what is rare in land, in sea, in air"

I love when I find great posts about museums on the blogs that I regularly read for enjoyment. I've posted before about Curious Expeditions. Now, I've found something great on Feral Strumpet Teatime, a blog about one woman's experience of London.

The author recently posted about the Museum of Garden History in Lambeth and, in particular, the sarcophagus of John Tradescant the Elder there. In brief, the Tradescants were a family of collectors and their voluminous collections formed the basis of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, founded in 1683
. You can check out the extant Tradescant collection at the Ashmolean here.

Feral Strumpet Teatime's author posted a lovely photo of the sarcophagus and transcribed the poem that's carved upon it. I won't reproduce it here, as
it's her work and you should go to her site to read it. And you absolutely should, for despite their somewhat crazy ways, it's the work of medieval collectors like the Tradescants which helped develop the museum as we know it today. Just think where we'd all be without them!