Biodôme de Montréal

Happy 2018! A bit late, but better late than never. Anyways, I started a new job recently and had to relocate, so I didn’t have as much time for the blog this month, but I hope to be back on track next month.  Anyways, continuing with Montreal…

Biodôme de Montréal, located in Montreal, Quebec
(Montreal Biodome)

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Biodôme de Montréal is open on Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm, and closed on Mondays. Admission to the Biodôme is 20.50CAD, which is approximately 16USD. Biodôme de Montréal is part of a science museum complex, called Space for Life, thus there are a variety of packages that allows one to visit one, two or all of the museums that are part of the complex (check out the Biodôme de Montréal website for more information). In addition, the complex is located near Montreal Tower, which means there is an option to see one or more of the museums and Montreal Tower. Biodôme de Montréal is also included in the Montreal Museum Pass, a pass that gives one access to a variety of museums during 3 days for a set price (The Montreal Museum Pass is worth considering if one plans to visit all the museums at the Space for Life complex.) The museum is accessible via driving, walking and public transportation. If you choose to drive, the Biodôme does have a parking lot, but it costs 12CAD per day and is about a 5 minute walk from the museum. Walking is always an option, however if you’re not in the area, it’s going to be a long walk. As for public transportation, take the 1 train to Viau station and walk about 3 minutes to reach the Biodôme de Montréal. In addition to the subway, there are various buses that one can take to reach the museum. Make it a fun day trip by visiting all the museums in the Space for Life complex: the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, the Montreal Botanical Garden and the Montreal Insectarium.

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Biodôme de Montréal is separated into four sections; each section is a replica of an ecosystem found in the Americas. The ecosystems include the Tropical Rain Forest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Sub-Polar Regions. The Tropical Rain Forest is a replica of the South American rain forest, thus this section is humid, and contains a variety of animals, including macaws, bats, and a sloth. The Laurentian Maple Forest is based on the North American wilderness. Highlights of this section include a beaver (I’ve never seen one before) and raccoons (which I’ve seen plenty of). The Gulf of St. Lawrence is modeled on an estuary habitat. This section contains a variety of birds and fishes; the highlights for me were a baby and mommy duck duo, and a stingray that kept swimming to the surface of the water. Last, but not least is the Sub-Polar Regions, which is actually further divided into two sections based on the Arctic and Antarctic.  The two sections are the Labrador Coast, where visitors can see puffins, and the Sub-Antarctic Islands, where the focus is penguins. The museum also has an amphitheater that is one floor below the main exhibits, however I’m not sure how long the film runs or what it’s about as the film is in French.

My travel buddy and I spent a little under 2 hours at Biodôme de Montréal, but as usual, others may take more or less time depending on their interest. (One might need a bit more time for the film if one’s interested and can understand French.) Admission to the Biodôme is worth it, as there is a large variety of animals to see, some more exotic than others. The way the museum is set up based on different ecosystems is interesting as it lets visitors experience what the different environments are like, and one might even forget that they are actually indoors while exploring the Biodôme. The general population will most likely enjoy a visit to the Biodôme, and it is definitely a good idea for a family day trip as most children enjoy looking at animals, so they’ll be entertained for a while, and it’s an educational experience, too. So gather your friends and family, and see the animals and habitats of the Americas at the Biodôme de Montréal.

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Pointe-à-Callière

This past summer, I went to Canada for the extra long weekend that I had for the fourth of July. The decision to go away was quite last minute, so my usual travel buddy and I decided on Montreal since we’ve not been and figured it wouldn’t be as crowded since they don’t celebrate Independence Day that weekend. Turns out Canada Day is July 1st, so there was more people then we expected, but we had fun nevertheless. First stop…

Pointe-à-Callière, located in Montreal, Quebec
(Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History)

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Pointe-à-Callière is open on Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 5pm and on Saturday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm; the museum is closed on Mondays. Admission to the museum is 20CAD, which is approximately 16USD, however the rates will be increasing next year, so check out the museum website for the difference. Pointe-à-Callière is part of the Montreal Museum Pass, which gives one access to a variety of museums for 3 consecutive days. The pass is 75CAD without a transportation pass and 80CAD with the transportation pass. (I got the one with the transportation pass, which is about 65USD. It was worth it to me as the trains were quite frequent and I was staying outside of downtown Montreal, where many of the sites are.) The museum is accessible via driving, walking and public transportation. If one chooses to drive, note that the museum doesn’t have a parking lot, but there is paid parking available nearby. It’s possible to walk almost anywhere, so walking is always an option , but in this case, it’s best if one is already close by, or it will be a really long walk. As for public transportation, take the 2 train to Place-d’Armes Station and walk about 5 minutes to reach the museum or take the 715 bus and get off right in front of the museum.  Places to check out nearby include the Montreal History Center and the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal or just wander around the area, it’s quite nice.

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Pointe-à-Callière  is a complex of buildings that are connected on the underground level, which is where most of the exhibits are located. Right after the ticket counter is the 18 minute multimedia show, “Yours Truly, Montreal”, that details the birth of Montreal from the ice age to the present. The show is a great introduction to the museum as it gives visitors an overview of Montreal’s origins; it is available in several languages, so don’t miss it. The first floor of the entrance building contains a temporary exhibit, “Hello, Montreal”, which is on view from February 17, 2017 to January 6, 2019. (I missed this exhibit as I was rather confused with the museum’s layout, so I’m not sure what the exhibit is about.) The underground level of the entrance building contains the permanent exhibit, “Crossroads Montreal”. The exhibit houses the ruins of Montreal’s first Catholic cemetery and the foundations of the Royal Insurance Building. Through these remains, the exhibit details how Montreal was originally an Iroquoian village that became a French missionary colony and eventually grew to become a great Canadian metropolis.

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Next up is the “Memory Collector”, which is a light installation projected onto the walls of a section of Montreal’s first collector sewer. The exhibit is really relaxing and impressive, and is a definite must see at the museum. Following is “Where Montreal Began”, which is located on the actual site of where Montreal was founded. The exhibit focuses on the French missionary settlement that was established to convert the natives to Christianity. Visitors can see the the original remains and artifacts from the settlement and learn about the settlers who left France to establish the new colony. In addition, the exhibit also contains some artifacts from the indigenous people. Of interest to me was a hieroglyphic wheel depicting the signatures that the indigenous people used to sign the Great Peace of Montreal, a peace treaty between the natives and the settlers.

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The “Building Montreal” exhibit highlights the development of Montreal from the 17th to the 19th century. The exhibit contains various artifacts from the time period, interactive games to engage visitors and a multimedia installation. Next up is “Pirates or privateers?”,  an exhibit about life aboard a privateer ship during the turn of the 18th century. Visitors can learn about the food that was eaten, the skills needed to sail a ship and the punishment that is given if they failed to obey an order from the ship’s captain. The exhibit contains navigational instruments, personal possessions, tools, weapons and loot. (The exhibit appears to be geared toward children, since the ship was filled with kids, so I didn’t go through it that thoroughly.)

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Last, but not least is the temporary exhibit, ” Amazonia. The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest”, which was on view from April 20, 2017 to October 22, 2017. The exhibit highlighted the mythology of the Amazonian societies and featured objects from over thirty ethnic groups in the Amazon basin, including blowpipes, bows and arrows, musical instruments, baskets and items required by shamans. The objects were located throughout two floors, so there was a lot to see.

My travel buddy and I spent about 3 hours at Pointe-à-Callière, but I missed one of the temporary exhibit, so maybe add another half hour to see that. However, as always, other visitors will take more or less time depending on their interests. Admission to the museum is worth it, since there is so much to see and do that one can actually spend the whole day there if they wanted to. (Definitely check out the Montreal Museum Pass if you are interested in the other museums, so that you can get the most for your money.) Pointe-à-Callière is good idea for a family day trip as there is something for everyone in the family to do. Anyone interested in history, Canadian history or specifically, the history of Montreal will enjoy a visit. If it’s your  first trip to Montreal, or if you’ve been several times already or even if you live there, learn and see where Montreal began at Pointe-à-Callière.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

I missed the second posts from last month and this month, but that’s because  I’m still catching up with other things that need to be done first that was delayed by my annual trip. It’s going to take me at least 6 more months before I get to the museums from my trip, so I’ll do the destination revel now, I went to Japan, and it was awesome. Before I ramble on and on about how great my trip was, let’s wrap up in Baltimore with…

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, located in Baltimore, Maryland

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Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a park, and the park is open from 9am to 5pm daily. The Visitor Center and the Star Fort, both located within the park, is open from 9am-4:45pm daily. Admission to Fort McHenry is technically free as visitors are allowed to explore the park grounds and the Visitor Center for no charge, however admission to the historical area, also known as the Star Fort, is $10 per person. The admission fee is actually for a 7-day pass, so visitors can return anytime during the allotted 7-day period. The park is accessible via car, water taxi and public transportation. If you chooses to drive to Fort McHenry, there is ample free parking. If you happen to already be in the Inner Harbor, you can reach the park via a water taxi; note that if you didn’t arrive via water taxi to Fort McHenry, you cannot take the water taxi to leave. As for public transportation, take the free Charm City Circulator, via the Banner route, to the Fort McHenry stop (Stop #411). Other public buses also go to the historic site, please check the Maryland MTA site for more information. The Baltimore Museum of Industry is nearby if one wishes to stay in the area, but the various attractions in the Inner Harbor is only a stone’s throw away.

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First place visited was the Visitor Center, which contains the standard amenities, such as restrooms and a gift shop. In addition, the Visitor Center also contains three interconnected exhibits that relate to Fort McHenry. The first exhibit focuses on the origin of the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. The Star-Spangled Banner was initially a poem penned by Francis Scott Key after witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore and then at dawn of the next day, still seeing the American flag waving at the fort. The next exhibit is about the Battle of Baltimore, a battle that is well remembered due to The Star-Spangled Banner in the War of 1812. The exhibit is a 10 minute film that focuses on the battle, and it is shown every half an hour. Last, but not least is an exhibit that focuses on the War of 1812. Visitors can learn about the origins, the battles and the aftermath of the war, in addition to viewing a variety of artifacts that include a canon, uniforms, and personal items of the soldiers.

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Walking through the park to the Star Fort, there are a variety of canons scattered about that visitors can take a closer look at. There are usually descriptions nearby to indicate the significance of each grouping of canons. The Star Fort is a five pointed-star shape that was popular when the fort was initially built as it allowed for a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The Star Fort contains barracks and related structures where soldiers lived and worked when the fort was still in operation, but today, these buildings house a variety of exhibits. Exhibits include the Commander’s Quarters, Guard House, Powder Magazine, Junior Officers’ Quarters and the Enlisted Men’s Quarters. The exhibits contain a variety of historical and military memorabilia. (Please excuse the terrible pictures. I didn’t realize that I had my camera set to manual focus until more than half through.) The star fort also does a flag change twice a day that is pretty interesting. They allow visitors to help with the process, so it’s a fun experience for anyone interested.

My travel buddy and I spent about 1.5 hours here, which is less than the recommended 2 hours that the site suggests. I think the additional 30 minutes that the site recommends is necessary as there is a lot to see and do (I felt we rushed through a lot of the exhibits as we had to catch a bus back home). However, the time frame needed for each visitor will vary depending on interest and other external factors. The admission to the fort is kind of expensive since most visitors will plan to go once only, but it’s nice to have the option to visit again within a week (and the money supports the national parks, so it’s for a good cause even if you visit only once.) Fort McHenry is a good family day trip idea as there is something for everyone in the family to do. Anyone interested in history, American history, and the origins of The Star-Spangled Banner will enjoy a visit to the historic site. Even if one is not interested in history, the park is still enjoyable as there are walking trails and it’s right by the water.  Wear comfy shoes, pack a picnic and enjoy the day learning American history at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

National Aquarium

My annual trip is coming up, so I’m not sure if I will get another post in this month, but I really hope to, so that I can finish my Baltimore adventures. However, I have so many last minute preparations to complete and I still need to pack. Anyways, continuing on in Baltimore…

National Aquarium, located in Baltimore, Maryland

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The National Aquarium is open on Monday through Thursday from 9am to 4pm, on Friday from 9am to 8pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm. (The aquarium has different hours for the different seasons and hours may vary for holidays, so check their website to get the most accurate information.) Admission to the aquarium is $39.95 (which is kind of hefty, so definitely check out the Baltimore Harbor Pass, if the aquarium is on the must see list). The aquarium is easy to reach by walking, driving or public transportation. As the aquarium is located within the Inner Harbor, it is easy to walk to if you are already near the area. Driving to the aquarium is an option if one lives further away, but note that the aquarium doesn’t have free parking, however there are two parking garages nearby that will offer aquarium visitors a discount. All the different forms of public transportation will lead to the National Aquarium. (Check the aquarium website for all options.) The cheapest option is the free Charm City Circulator via the orange route to the National Aquarium(Stop 223). Since the National Aquarium is located in the Inner Harbor, there are many options to explore within walking distance, such as the Reginald F. Lewis Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not-Baltimore.

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The National Aquarium is comprised of three interconnecting buildings that house a variety of animals. The aquarium doesn’t have a set route for visitors to take, but because of the way the buildings are set up, and where the entrances and exits are, most visitors will be going in the same direction, so expect a crowd always (or go during a weekday or non-holiday). The first building where the entrance is located is the Glass Pavilion. The building is 3 floors, but there is only one exhibit on the third floor, “Australia: Wild Extremes”.  The exhibit features a northern Australia river gorge habitat, where visitors can see a variety of native Australian species.

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The next building is Blue Wonders: Reefs to Rainforests, which is 5 floors and contains 7 different sections. This building only contains one path to see the exhibits, so we started on the first level and worked our way up. On the first floor is “Blacktip Reef”, which is a big open space filled with corals to replicate the Indo-Pacific reefs, and is teeming with many aquatic species including sharks, sea turtles and stingrays. Next, on the second floor is “Maryland: Mountains to the Sea”, which is actually comprised of four smaller exhibits that depict Maryland’s various habitats: Allegheny stream, tidal marsh, coastal beach and Altantic shelf. Visitors can see a variety of Maryland’s aquatic life, including bullfrogs and striped bass. The third floor is comprised of two exhibits, “Living Seashore” and “Surviving Through Adaptation”. “Living Seashore” is an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to explore the Mid-Atlantic seashore and contains two touch pools that feature stingrays and moon jellies. “Surviving Through Adaptation” focuses on how aquatic animals adapt to help them survive in nature; for example, the Giant Pacific octopus can change the color and texture of its skin to match the background to avoid predators. The fourth floor also contains two exhibits, “North Atlantic to the Pacific”, where visitors can explore the Atlantic sea cliffs to an undersea kelp forest to a Pacific reef, and “Amazon River Forest”, which features animals from the Amazon.  Last, but not least on the fifth floor is “Upland Tropical Rain Forest”. The exhibit contains a vast collection of animals and plants, with highlights including Linne’s two-toed sloth, a scarlet ibis and a variety of colorful frogs.

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There are two more exhibits in the Blue Wonders building, “Atlantic Coral Reef” and “Shark Alley”. Both these exhibits aren’t sectioned to a specific floor, but rather surround the visitors as they descend from the top to the bottom of the building.  (It’s similar to a water tunnel, but instead of being a tunnel, it’s more of a wall. It’s actually a really awesome experience.) The “Atlantic Coral Reef” exhibit contains a variety of tropical fishes, whereas “Shark Alley” surrounds visitors with sharks of varying sizes and species.

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The last building is the Pier 4 building, which is 2 stories tall and contains 2 exhibits. The first is “Jellies Invasion”, an exhibit on sea jellies. Visitors can see nine different species of jellies. (Jellies are very graceful somehow, and they tend to photograph well, besides frogs.) The other exhibit is “Dolphin Discovery” where visitors can see and learn about Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Visitors can almost always see the dolphins in the underwater viewing area, but definitely check on the digital screens near the entrances for talk times to see the colony of dolphins together. (This is the only aquarium I’ve been to that I can actually recall seeing dolphins, so don’t miss the talks, they’re informative and the dolphins perform a few tricks.) There’s also a 4-d immersion theater, however it costs an extra $5, so we skipped it (also the line to see the films looked long).

My usual travel buddy and I spent nearly 4 hours at the aquarium, but as always, others may take more or less time depending on their interest level, and what they want to do at the aquarium. The National Aquarium does offer a lot to see and is really well done, and I can see that it needs the costly admission prices for upkeep, but the price is really high in my opinion. (Look into discounts or maybe a membership if you plan to go often and with family.) The aquarium is a good family day idea as there is plenty for the kids to see and do. As it is an aquarium, the general population will enjoy a visit. Look for a discount, and bring your friends and family to enjoy the many aquatic animals, especially the dolphins, at the National Aquarium.

Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum

Happy Autumn! Autumn is a great time to vacation as most people are back at work and/or school. I have my big annual vacation coming up soon, and I’m prepping for it now, hopefully I can still manage the two posts then. Anyways, continuing on in Baltimore…

Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland

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Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm during April to September, and Tuesdays through Sundays from 10am to 5pm during October to March. Admission to the museum is $10. (Admission to Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum is included in 2 of the 4 options for the Harbor Pass, so you can save some money if you plan to visit all the sites within the pass.) The museum is accessible by walking, driving and public transportation. Walking to the museum from the Inner Harbor area takes approximately 15 minutes. Driving to the museum is another option, however there is no free parking, only metered parking and paid parking garages nearby. One can take Baltimore’s free public transportation, the Charm City Circulator, to reach the museum via the orange route by getting off at either the Museum of Dentistry (stop 206) or the University of Maryland Medical Center (stop 217) and walking a few blocks. The Light Rail and Baltimore’s MTA buese are other forms of public transportation to consider to get to the museum.  Other sites to see in the area include Geppi’s Entertainment Museum and Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry, or one can head back to the Inner Harbor for more options.

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The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum is a small museum that contains two floors of exhibits. The museum has a nice main entrance, but when we visited, we had to enter through a side entrance that opened into the museum store. (We weren’t quite sure the museum was open when we visited as the main entrance was closed, but there was a sign to use the side entrance.) The museum does not have a set route to take, so we started on the first floor and saw the exhibits as they came about. First is the first floor section of the “Historic House” where visitors can see a room containing period furniture that was part of the row house where Babe Ruth had lived. Next up is the “714 Club”, which highlights Ruth’s 714 career home runs; visitors can see the date and where it occurred for every home run. In the “Babe Ruth Theatre” is a short film entitled ““O” Say Can you See: The Star Spangled Banner in Sports” that explains how the national anthem became a part of sports; the film ends with a nice composite rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

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Last exhibit on the first floor is “Babe Ruth 100”, where visitors can see a variety of artifacts that were owned by Ruth, such as his baseball jerseys and bats, and that were related to him, including the Babe Ruth rookie card and the score book from Ruth’s first official game. First exhibit on the second floor is “American Hercules”. This exhibit focuses on some of the big moments of Ruth’s career, such as Ruth being the first member of the 500 Home Run Club and Ruth’s “Called Shot” home run (there’s a clip about the “Called Shot” right behind the display of the home run ball that is on view).

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The second section of the “Historic House” is the bedroom where Babe Ruth was born; included in the room are various period pieces and furniture. “Babe in Pop Culture” focuses on Babe Ruth’s status as a cultural icon; he was America’s first rock star, he had songs dedicated to him, movies made about him and even a candy named after him. The last exhibit is “Babe at Home” where visitors can learn about Babe Ruth’s home life, the relationships he had with his wives, daughters and friends.

My travel buddy and I spent about 30 minutes at the museum, however we only saw part of the film, so including that, it may take another 10-15 minutes, bringing the total time to 45 minutes. As usual, others may take more or less time depending on their interest levels. I’m not sure the price of admission was worth it, as the museum is on the smaller side and didn’t take long to go through, so I think it would be better if it’s priced between $5-7. (I’m also not a big sports fan, so that’s another reason as to why I don’t think it’s worth the admission.) Anyone interested in baseball, Babe Ruth, and/or sports history will enjoy the museum, but the general population may enjoy it as well as baseball is one of America’s favorite past times.  If you enjoy sports and happen to be in Baltimore, why not take some time out to learn about baseball’s greatest star at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum.

Geppi’s Entertainment Museum

Happy September! September has been a quiet month in many aspects for me, so I’m still able to keep up with the bi-monthly postings. It’s nice to be able to pass on information that is still relevant. Any who, continuing on in Baltimore…

Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland

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Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (GEM) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Admission to the museum is $10. (Groupon has a 2 for $10 deal sometimes, so check before visiting. I got really lucky that there was $10 off code with no minimum limit when I was purchasing the Groupon, so I went to the museum for free.) The museum is easily accessible via driving, walking and public transportation. If one chooses to drive, note that there is no free parking at the museum, there is however a paid parking lot right in front of the museum and there are parking meters nearby. Walking to Geppi’s from the Inner Harbor takes about 15 minutes. For museum access via free public transportation, take the orange route of the Charm City Circulator, and get off at either Howard Street (stop 205) or Pratt Street (stop 219) and walk about a block or so to reach the museum. The museum is also easy to reach with the Baltimore Light rail as it is located near two light rail stops. Geppi’s is right by the Baltimore Convention Center and Oriole Park, so it’s a nice stopover if one is attending an event at either place. Other attractions to visit in the area include Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, and Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry.

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Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is located on the second floor of the building, and is easily accessible via the elevator or stairs on the south side entrance. (We thought the museum was closed when we visited as the doors of the building appeared locked, but we just had to walk around the building to find the correct entrance.) The museum has a set route to be taken, so we followed it. First up is “A Story in Four Colors”, which gives a brief history of comic books. The museum’s comic book collection is massive, with titles from as early as the 1800s to popular comics such as Superman, Spiderman and the Avengers. Next up is “Pioneer Spirit: Baltimore Heroes”, where visitors can learn a little about the founder of the museum in addition to other famous people hailing from Baltimore, such as Edgar Allen Poe, Babe Ruth and Oprah.

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The rest of the exhibits are in chronological order, detailing the evolution of popular culture in America. “Extra! Extra!” focuses on the rise of pop culture from the 1890s to 1927. America had transitioned from a farm based economy to a leading industrial nation by the early 1900s, thus people had more time and money for entertainment. Motion pictures and radios became widespread entertainment options, and newspapers introduced comics to the mass. Popular characters at the time featured on merchandises and comics include The Brownies and Yellow Kid. “When Heroes Unite” spans from 1928 to 1945, a time of gloom and poverty for the American people during the Great Depression and WWII, yet it was booming period for popular culture as people escaped the hardships of everyday life through comic pages, radio shows, and movie houses. This era brought about well-known household names such as Mickey Mouse, Disney and Superman, and was a golden age for the film industry with productions such as Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.

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“America Tunes In” covers the evolution of pop culture from 1946 to 1960. The invention of the television took Americans to outer space, and to the old west, and to the peanut gallery right in the comforts of their own homes. Visitors can see a lot of items relating to popular TV shows, such as The Three Stooges, Howdy Doody and Hopalong Cassidy. Don’t miss the Elvis memorabilia; the 1950s was the age of rock and roll. Although America was embroiled in tensions both on the home-front and on a global scale between 1961 and 1970, pop culture continued to thrive as captured in “Revolution”.  The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews broke box off records, and The Flintstones became the first animated series to air on prime time television and continued to be a success for decades. This era also experienced the British Invasion, as James Bond was king on the screen and the Beatles were beloved by many.

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As the American economy transitioned again, from industrial to information, popular culture also changed as presented in “Expanding Universe”, which spans from 1971-1990. Entertainment was now not only in the home through televisions, but people could bring it with them via video recorders (VCRs) and compact discs (CDs) and even  envision themselves as characters via game consoles and computers. This time period saw the birth of Star Wars, which became a cultural phenomenon and continues to influence modern day pop culture.  Last in the chronological exhibits is “Going Global” spanning from 1991 and onward. There didn’t appear to be much in this exhibit, except for merchandise as it shares the space with the museum store.

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The museum also has two temporary exhibits on view. First is “The Dark Knight through the Decades”, on view from March 1, 2017 to October 1, 2017. (If you like Batman or just want to see this exhibit, you still have time.) The exhibit features art from various artists and contains a variety of memorabilia relating to Batman. The other exhibit is “Will’s War: Will Eisner’s WWII and Military Comic Work”, which is on view from March 5, 2017 to October 1, 2017. This exhibit can be found by the 3rd floor stair area (visitors can’t go up the stairs), and as the name suggests, it showcases artwork pertaining to the military. Also don’t miss the various posters, artworks and comics hanging on the walls of the hallway.

My travel buddy and I spent approximately 1.5 hours at the museum, but as usual, others may take more or less time depending on their interest level. Geppi’s is a very entertaining museum, and definitely worth the full admission price for the amount of material that is on view. Anyone interested in comics, pop culture and history will enjoy a visit. The museum contains a lot of reading and not much interaction, so it’s best for families with slightly older children who enjoy comic books or for a day out with friends. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has plenty to do and see, but why not venture away from the crowds to the land of comics and pop culture at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum.

American Visionary Art Museum

I went to see the solar eclipse recently, which was exciting, but I missed totality because of a cloud, it just wouldn’t move. I’ll have to try again next time. Nevertheless, I got to experience something new, and got to visit some new places, so more material for the blog. I like weird museums, and this next one is definitely strange…

American Visionary Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland

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The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Admission to the museum is $15.95. (If you also plan to visit the National Aquarium while in Baltimore, consider the Baltimore Harbor Pass as it gives you admission to both places and two additional sites for $51.95, which is nearly the combined admission cost for AVAM and the aquarium; the Harbor Pass has several different plans to choose from. If you happen to be a Bank of America card holder, you can get free admission during the first full weekend of the month, but it’s only applicable for the cardholder, anyone else going will have to pay, unless he/she has a card too.) AVAM is accessible via car, walking and public transportation. If you choose to drive, note that there is no free parking for the museum; there are metered parking spots available near the museum and paid parking at a public lot nearby. The museum is easy to reach by walking if you are in the downtown area or the Inner Harbor area, not more than 30 minutes on foot. The free Charm City Circulator is a convenient way to reach the museum via public transportation. Take the Banner route to stop 404, American Visionary Museum, and walk a few steps to the museum. Other forms of public transportation will also take you to the museum, please check Maryland’s MTA website for more info. AVAM is right by the Inner Harbor, so you can explore the area or climb the steps up to Federal Hill Park to take in the view of the harbor.

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Before we go further, AVAM defines visionary art as outsider, isolate, or raw art, and visionary artists as self-taught people who make art in a very personal way, so one should approach the museum with a very open mind to appreciate the works inside. The American Visionary Art Museum is comprised of two buildings and its surrounding grounds. The main building is three stories, but it also has a basement, so there is actually 4 floors of exhibits altogether. Since the museum entrance is on the first floor, my travel buddy and I decided to head to the basement first and work our way up. The basement contains two exhibits, “Flatulence Post” by Bob Benson and “Baltimore Beasties” by Brian Dowdall. The “Flatulence Post” contains art relating to farts; the exhibit is non-odorous, but does contain sounds. “Baltimore Beasties” is a collection of paintings with animals. Both exhibits are sort of silly and best not to be taken seriously (Remember to keep the mind wide open, or you shall be disappointed.)

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The first and second floors of the museum contain the pieces from the permanent collection, which are interesting, for the lack of a better word. The museum really highlights the fact that anyone (and I mean anyone) can be an artist, and anything can be considered art. Also spanning both the first and second floor is the rotating exhibit, “YUMMM! The History, Fantasy and Future of Food”, which is on view from October 8, 2016 to September 3, 2017. (Once again, I made it with a few days for the information to still be relevant. Go take a look if you can.) The exhibit contains a variety of pieces showing the complex relationship between humans and food. Everything imaginable and unimaginable is represented in the exhibit in relation to food. (There was a piece about eye candy that I thought was really clever; it had magazine cutouts of hot male bodies inside a valentine’s chocolate box, it was literally eye candy.)

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On the third floor of the museum was “Matt Sesow: Shock and Awe”, which was on display from May 27, 2016 to May 28, 2017. Matt Sesow is a Washington D.C. based self-taught artist, and his collection of paintings incorporated a wide variety of topics. Asides from the exhibits on each floor, the stairway also contains paintings and is collectively known as “The Marilyn Meyehoff Stairway to the Stars”. Among the stairs is a hanging figure of Icarus, the boy from Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun; see him rotate in all his sparkly glory.

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The other building that is part of the museum is the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, which is two buildings over from the main building. The Jim Rouse Visionary Center is also 3 stories, but most of the exhibits are congregated on the 1st floor, with another exhibit on the 2nd floor, and the 3rd floor is mainly for private events. Foremost up on the first floor is my favorite of all the exhibits that are part of the museum, “The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre of London”. The exhibit contains a variety of automata, self-operating machines that move with the push of a button; the exhibit was highly entertaining and interactive. (I didn’t know that automata were called automata prior to visiting, now I know.) The next exhibit is “Screen Painters of Baltimore”, where visitors can see full size replica row houses with screens painted by Baltimore artists. Scattered about is the “Kinetic Sculpture Race Vehicles”, which are combination vehicles and  works of art used in the annual East Coast Championship Race. There are several other large sculptures, such as Baltimore icon Divine and the bra ball, also on display.

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On the second floor is the exhibit “Remembering Jim Rouse Into Our Future”, which is about and dedicated to Jim Rouse, who was a pioneering real estate developer and activist hailing from Maryland. The second floor also contains classrooms for hands-on work. (There were two weddings happening at the museum that day, so we skipped the outside art as there were too many extra people milling about for my liking.)

My travel buddy and I spent about 1.5 hours visiting the museum, but had we looked at the outside art, it would have taken maybe another 15-30 minutes. As usual, other visitors will take more or less time depending on their interest level. On its own, the museum admission is too expensive for my liking, since I’m not the biggest art fan and don’t believe that art museums should cost so much, but with the Harbor Pass, it made the admission more bearable, so look into the pass if you are visiting Baltimore. Fans of weird museums will most likely enjoy a visit to AVAM, as will people who enjoy art that is outside of the box. Go by yourself or with your closest friend, (one who isn’t too critical and has an open mind) to discover what visionary art is at the American Visionary Art Museum.