Tag Archives: museums

Walters Art Museum

This past Memorial Day, I visited Baltimore for a long weekend trip as I’ve never been before. Baltimore kind of has a reputation for being a dangerous city, so many people are a bit wary to go, but if you just practice common sense, you can have a great time. I’m happy to report that I had no issues in Baltimore, but then again my travel companion is sort of paranoid so we didn’t stay out too late or wander too far from the more populated areas. First stop is…

Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland

The Walters Art Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and on Thursdays from 10am to 9pm. Admission to the museum is free. The museum is accessible by driving, walking and using public transportation. If driving is your preferred method of transportation, there is parking across the street from the museum, however there is a fee. (Check the museum’s website for more information as I didn’t drive, so I’m not sure about the rates.) The Walters Art Museum is about a half hour walk from the downtown and inner harbor areas. (Downtown Baltimore is a bit scary with plenty of homeless people, so just ignore them and keep going if they talk to you.) The museum is accessible via various forms of Baltimore public transportation: Charm City Circulator, MTA buses and the light rail. The best way to get to the museum via public transportation is through the Charm City Circulator, Baltimore’s free bus that circulates around the tourist area. Take the purple route to either the Washington Monument or Centre Street stops, depending on which direction you’re coming from, and walk about 2 blocks to reach the museum. Other attractions to visit nearby include the Washington Monument and the George Peabody Library (which is definitely worth a visit as the library is really photogenic).

The Walters Art Museum is four floors, thus to best conserve energy, my travel buddy started on the fourth floor and worked our way down, so we wouldn’t have to double back. There’s actually two set of staircases, one being more scenic than the other. The scenic staircase is the one overlooking the main entrance, where the free lockers and free audio guides are located. (You have to ask the information desk for the guide; I didn’t get one cause I didn’t realize there was an audio guide till about half through the museum.) The other is the one within the building, the typical stairs surrounded by four walls. The whole fourth floor is one exhibit, “From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story”, which features material about the Walters family alongside works of art that the family collected. Learn about who the Walters were and how they came about the pieces in their collection.

First up on the third floor is “Renaissance and Baroque”, which features French, Italian and Spanish art from the 13th to 18th century. Within the exhibit, the pieces are grouped by century, so that visitors can see art from a specific time period and how art has changed over time. Pieces in this exhibit included plenty of portraits and religious art. (I went backwards, starting from the 18th century to the 13th century, no big deal for me, but others might want to go in order.) Asides from paintings and sculptures, there is also a section on European ceramics.

Also on the third floor is the temporary exhibit, “Training the Eye: 19th Century Drawing”, which is on view from May 14, 2017 to August 13, 2017. (I did it, the post is still relevant, even if only for a day or so.) The exhibit features various drawings to illustrate the materials and techniques that were available to artists in that time period. Next to this exhibit is a small section on bookbinding. (Not sure how it fits with the drawing exhibit.)

Finishing up on the third floor is “The Medieval World”, which contains a variety of art from the medieval world that spans from the eastern Mediterranean to Western Europe. The exhibit is separated into sections to highlight the distinct works, including Early Byzantine, Islamic, Northern Europe, Romanesque and Gothic art, and Byzantine, Ethiopian and Russian icons. Another section is The Great Room, where one can sit down and enjoy a game of checkers with friends while surrounded by Medieval and Renaissance paintings and furniture.

On the second floor, “European Art/Sculpture Court” showcases the exhibits name, European Art and sculptures. The European Art part of the exhibit is separated into smaller sections, with each section focusing on a different theme, and it’s in these sections where the museum really shines. The sections include Collector’s study, Arms and Armor, Chamber of Wonders, 17th century Dutch Cabinet Rooms, and The Treasury: 18th century European and Asian Art. (The Collector’s Study and the Chamber of Wonders are my favorite as they contained lots of little trinkets and oddities.) The Sculpture Court contains a few a sculptures around the edges of the room, but the main area was a play place for children, with items supplied by the museum to entertain the younger kids.

The other exhibit on the second floor is “The Ancient World” that includes Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Ancient Near Eastern Art. The collection in this exhibit is pretty extensive (I enjoyed the sections on the mummies and the sarcophagi). The first floor contains the museum store, a café, and supposedly more temporary exhibits, but when I visited, there was nothing on display there.

My travel buddy and I spent a little over 2 hours at the museum, but as usual, different people will take a different amount of time. For a free museum, there is plenty to see, and they have free lockers and audio guides, so no complaints from me. The Walters Art Museum is a good family day trip idea since it doesn’t cost anything, and there’s enough material that there should be something of interest for everyone; there’s even a play area for the small children. Anyone interested in art will enjoy the museum, but it will probably be a great experience for the general population, too. Bring you friends and your family to the Walters Art Museum to enjoy a day of art and culture.

Mob Museum

The second post for this month almost didn’t make it due to variety of factors, but mainly due to my desire to procrastinate. Nevertheless, it’s here. Without further fanfare, I end my West Coast trip of 2016 with…

The Mob Museum, located in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Mob Museum is officially the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (which sounds long and not quite as exciting as the Mob Museum.) The Mob Museum is open daily from 9am to 9pm. Admission to the museum is $23.95 when you buy in person at the museum and $19.95 when you buy online in advance. (Check for other types of discounts online, I was able to get my ticket for $17.) When you buy online, the site tells you to select a day and time for entry, but according to the Mob Museum website, you may enter any time as long as the museum is open regardless of what time you selected. The museum is accessible via walking, driving and public transportation. Should you choose walking as your mode of transportation, remember that the streets of Las Vegas are long, so something 2 blocks away could mean a 30 minute walk. If you choose to drive, there is a parking lot next to the Museum, which costs $6 for 3 hours and then additional after that. Public transportation is pretty convenient in Las Vegas, take the Deuce from the closest bus stop on the Strip and get off at Stewart Ave and 4th Street and walk a short block to reach the museum. Apparently there is a free Downtown Loop shuttle that one can take to reach the museum; unfortunately you’ll have to be in downtown Las Vegas for it to be useful as the shuttle doesn’t quite reach the more populated areas of the Strip. If you’re in the Downtown Las Vegas, check out the Freemont Street Experience or the Neon Museum to make a fun day trip of it.

The Mob Museum contains three floors of exhibits with a set route to explore the museum, starting on the third floor. Immediately getting out of the elevator, there is a photo-op for those interested to get a picture of themselves in a police lineupAs the photo-op is optional, those not interested can bypass the line and head to the first exhibit, “The Birth of the Mob”, to learn about the origins of the mob and how it came about in the early 1900s. There’s a short movie in this exhibit about Lucky Luciano, who is considered to be the father of modern organized crime in the United States.

In “A Tough Little Town”, visitors can learn how Las Vegas began as a frontier town and evolved to become a global capital of gambling and entertainment due to the construction of the Hoover Dam and the legalization of gambling and prostitution in Nevada. Next up is an exhibit documenting the Prohibition Era from 1920-1933, entitled “Prohibition”. The 1920s was a time of great economic and social change, where it was easy to defy Prohibition with bootleggers and speakeasies. The Prohibition Era saw a rise in crime due to the diversion of law enforcement to regulating alcohol distribution and to the establishment of black markets dominated by organized crime syndicates, which led to a stronghold for the Mob. The Great Depression brought about the repeal of Prohibition and ended the need for bootleggers and speakeasies, but the Mob had already laid deep roots and continued to thrive.

“The Feds Fight Back” focuses on law enforcement’s response to the growing Mob influence and rising crime sprees post-Prohibition. The exhibit highlights J. Edgar Hoover and his group of G-Men, known initially as the Bureau of Investigation, later as FBI. Originally, the agents weren’t allowed to carry guns or make arrests, but because of two sensational crimes of the era that led to murders in both cases, the G-Men were permitted to carry guns, make arrests and cross state lines to chase down suspects, as it isn’t within local police’s authority to do so. When the G-Men couldn’t get a Mob member through a serious criminal offense, the government brought in the T-Men, agents of the U.S. Treasury, who took down Mob members for tax evasion. (I find that quite funny and interesting.) Finishing out the third floor is “The Tentacle Spreads”, which focuses on the Mob’s endeavors after the Prohibition. With the end of Prohibition, people no longer needed to obtain alcohol illegally, so the Mob found other ways, such as gambling  and dealing drugs, to make a profit.

First up on the second floor is “The Kefauver Hearings”, which includes a short 10 minute video in the actual courtroom used for the hearings in Las Vegas. The Kefauver Hearings provided many Americans with their first glimpse of organized crime’s influence in the US as the hearings were televised live on national television. The hearings concluded that the Mob existed, which was denied by some, including J. Edgar Hoover.  “Open City” is another Las Vegas centered exhibit. Due to gambling being illegal in many states, mobsters focused on Las Vegas as the place for their ventures since Nevada legalized gambling. See a variety of items on display, including showgirl outfits and a small display of cheating methods, and learn how casino owners skimmed money to avoid taxes.

“Spinning A Deadly Web” explains how the Mob has a hand in everything, from politics to world affairs. Last exhibit on the second floor is “We Only Kill Each Other”, which focuses on how the Mob lifestyle affected the individuals, their families and innocent bystanders. Visitors can view a variety of weapons used for hits, and images of some of the Mob’s most notorious hits.

The first exhibit encountered on the first floor is “Bringing Down the Mob”, which focuses on the joint efforts of law enforcement to convict the mob. The exhibit highlights some of the newer technologies in the 1970s, such as wire taps and listening devices, to get incriminating evidence on criminals. Also, there is a small section on undercover work. “Weapons Training” is an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to test their skills and judgement in the virtual world. (It’s quite fun, you get to shoot bad guys, but also weird cause other people are just watching you act silly.) Right next to the this exhibit is “International Organized Crime” that explains about crime in the 21st century; modern crime transcends traditional boundaries and is a more global affair.

Next is “Memories of the Mob”, which contains a room full of pictures relating to the Mob members and their families. “100 Years of Made Men” highlights the most notorious figures from 100 years of Mob history; a brief story for each figure is included. Last, but not least is “Hollywood and the Mob”, which details how Hollywood has merged fact and fiction pertaining to the Mob to create fascinating stories for public entertainment.

My travel buddy and I spent about 3 hours exploring the Mob Museum, but as usual others may take more or less time depending on interest level. The museum contains lots of reading material, but it was pretty crowded when we went, so it might take some more time if you want to read everything. (I skipped some of the more crowded sections as there was just too much people.) The price of admission at the door is slightly steep in my opinion, so try to look for deals, or at least buy online in advance to save some money. Anyone interested in Mob or organized crime history, or just history in general, will have great time at the museum. The museum has several videos and plenty of interactive exhibits, but is much better suited for adults and older children as there is a lot of reading involved. Las Vegas is known as Sin City, so it’s only befitting that its history is deeply entwined with the Mob’s, and where better to learn about both then at the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, or better known as The Mob Museum.

Benjamin Franklin Museum

The weather is getting warmer and the summer is coming soon, I hope to see more places this year, but we’ll see how that goes. Any who, continuing on with my previous adventures in Philly…

Benjamin Franklin Museum, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Benjamin Franklin Museum is open 7 days a week, from 9am to 5pm. Admission to the museum is $5. The museum is part of Franklin Court, which was Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia residence from 1763 until his death. Franklin Court contains the “Fragments of Franklin Court” exhibit, a Printing Office and the courtyard, which all are accessible to visitors. (My one-tracked mind latched onto to the museum as the main event, so I was unaware about the additional exhibit and the printing office. I suppose they are also part of the reason as to the small crowds when I visited.) The museum is accessible by car and public transportation. There is no onsite parking for those who intend to drive, but there are various parking lots within a mile of the museum. For those who wish to use public transportation, take the SEPTA Market-Frankford Subway, the blue line, to the 2nd Street station or 5th Street Station (they’re about equidistant from the museum) and then walk a few blocks to reach the museum. Visitors can see the other attractions at Franklin Court if they have time, or walk a little further to visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. If it’s too much history for one day, then stroll around the corner to the museum at Chemical Heritage Foundation (which I highly enjoyed).

The Benjamin Franklin Museum is located underground, beneath Franklin Court. The museum is one floor and contains five exhibits exploring the different aspects of Franklin’s life. Right at the start of the museum, visitors can find Skugg the squirrel, who is a sort of scavenger type-like guide for visitors; he can be found sporadically throughout the museum, pointing out fun tidbits. The first exhibit is “Ardent and Dutiful”, which focuses on Franklin’s personal life. Visitors can learn about his family, his friends, his hobbies and even his household expenses. Franklin suffered from gout, due to excessive eating of red meat and drinking wine, hence he wrote a story about a conversation he would have with his personified gout; visitors can view a clip of the story at this exhibit.

The next exhibit is “Ambitious and Rebellious”, which focuses on Franklin’s life as a printer. Franklin bought the Pennsylvania Gazette, oftentimes contributing pieces to the newspaper under various alias, and made it one of the most successful newspapers during his time. The exhibit contains some of the tools that are needed for printing. Following is “Motivated to Improve”. This exhibit highlights various inventions and ideas that came about because of Franklin, such as bifocals, the “Franklin Stove”, universities, lending libraries and home deliveries by the postal system.

Most people have heard the story of Franklin flying a kite with a key during a thunderstorm, thereby discovering electricity. “Curious and Full of Wonder” focuses  on his other experiments with electricity and science, in general. The last exhibit is “Strategic and Persuasive”, which showcases Franklin’s time as a diplomat. Included in the exhibit is the “Join or Die” cartoon used to encourage the American colonies to unite against British rule. The museum ends with a small segment on Franklin’s efforts to write an autobiography that he never finished.

My travel buddy and I spent about 45 minutes at the museum, but the timing will vary from person to person. Admission to the museum is reasonable for the amount of material that is on display. Adults and children will both enjoy a visit as there is enough information to keep the adults busy and equally as much for children to touch and interact with, thus it’s a good place to bring the whole family for a visit. If you’re visiting Philadelphia, it is only appropriate to take some time to learn about Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and “The First American”, and a great place to start is at the Benjamin Franklin Museum.

Museum at the Chemical Heritage Foundation

 Life’s been a bit hectic lately, so I’ve been busy attending to it, and neglecting this a bit, but now I’m back… Considering that I’ve lived in NYC all my life, and that Philadelphia is only 2 hours away, it’s a pity that I’ve never been there until last summer when I took a spontaneous trip to Philadelphia. Philly has so many things that I want to see, but on the top of my list is one that is less well-known…

Museum at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

img_6660

The Museum at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm; on the first Friday of the month, from March to December, the museum is open from 10am to 8pm. (I think they’ve changed the hours since I went as I distinctly remember them not being on open on the weekend, which is why I went on a Friday.) Admission to the museum is free, but they  have a suggested donation of $5. The museum is accessible by both car and public transportation. Should you decide to drive, which you may have to if you’re coming from out of state, note that the museum doesn’t have onsite parking, but there are plenty of parking garages within a mile. Public transportation to the museum is pretty simple if you are already in Philly: take the SEPTA Market-Frankford Subway, the blue line, to the 2nd Street station and then walk a few blocks to reach the museum. There are plenty of other things to do around the area, such as the Benjamin Franklin Museum, which is right by the museum, and if you walk a little further, you’ll be at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

img_6594img_6595img_6596 img_6597img_6598img_6600 img_6603img_6604img_6605

The Chemical Heritage Foundation is an institution that promotes and preserves the understanding of the history of science; it consists of a library, museum, archive, research center and conference center. The Museum at CHF is a rather small museum within the Foundation, but is comprised of 4 exhibits, 3 of which are permanent and 1 is a rotating exhibit. The main exhibit “Making Modernity” provides an overview of how chemistry is part of everyday life. “Making Modernity” is broken into 11 different sections that focus on different aspects of chemistry. The first section is  about the origins of chemistry and what people considered as chemistry. The next section is “Materials for the Masses”, which shows the contributions chemistry has made to society, such as synthetic fibers and plastics. “Tools for the Task” focuses on the tools used in chemistry, such as beakers, balances and other specialized glassware.

img_6609img_6607img_6610 img_6612img_6614img_6615 img_6617img_6618img_6619 img_6620img_6621img_6622

The largest section is “Empowering Technologies”, which focuses on how chemistry helped overcome the limits of time, space and speed through the developments of batteries, light bulbs and computer chips, respectively. There are 4 smaller sections in the middle of the room that highlight the more sophisticated tools, such as microscopes, spectrometers and various types of chemical detectors. Also in the middle of the room is a video column that has an interactive panel and a video on the periodic table.

On the second floor are the last two sections of the exhibit, “Becoming a Chemist” and “Chemists and the Wider World”. “Becoming a Chemist” contains a variety of notes and books related to the field. The section also contains some games and lab kits that were available to children. “Chemists and the Wider World” focuses on how chemistry is portrayed in the arts, how chemistry became a more unified field with the introduction of chemical symbols so that all scientists know that C stands for carbon or O for oxygen, how chemistry has impacted the world-both the good and the bad, and how chemistry continues to evolve.

The rotating exhibit that was on display when I visited was “Science at Play”, which was on view from October 2015 to September 2016. The exhibit highlighted the various toys and kits that came about to encourage kids to explore science. Chemistry kits and miniature laboratories came about in the early 1900s and became mass produced consumer goods. Early kits predominantly featured boys on the covers, but as more females became involved in the sciences, girls started appearing on the covers, too. The exhibit also contains other toys that came about due to science, such as the View-Master (I had one way back when, I adored the thing.)

The museum has two other exhibits,  “Transmutation: Alchemy in Art” and “The Whole of Nature and the Mirror of Art”. Unfortunately, I missed these two exhibits as they aren’t directly connected to the main exhibit, so I didn’t even know there is more to see. (If you decide to visit, remember to look out for these two, they are elusive.)

My travel buddy and I spent about an hour at the museum, but as always others can spend more or less time depending on their interest levels. (My buddy took about half the time that I did, so the time allotted is just an estimate.) Admission to the museum is free, so it’s a great place to drop by, take a look and learn a little chemistry. The museum is more suitable for adults and older children as there is plenty of reading involved, and the museum isn’t really interactive so it may not keep younger kids interested for long. When people think of chemistry, they think of a laboratory with flames and boiling liquid, but that’s not all it is,  just visit the Museum at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and find out how chemistry is actually a part of the everyday.

Salem Witch Museum

Last Massachusetts post from May, met my own expectations of posting within half a year of visiting. Yay! This post would’ve been much more relevant  if it was posted around Halloween, but still a fun visit…

Salem Witch Museum, located in Salem, Massachusetts

img_6261

The Salem Witch Museum is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm; with extended hours during the summer and the month of October. Admission to the museum is $11. The museum doesn’t have its own parking lot, but there are several parking garages with nominal fees that are within walking distance should you desire or need to drive. If you are already in Salem, walking to the museum is the best option. The Salem Witch museum is a bit out of the way from the main tourist area, but it is right next to Salem Common, a wonderful outdoor space with monuments and a gazebo where one can just sit and enjoy some sun and grass.

The Salem Witch museum is divided into two sections, and both are guided: the first section is a presentation where visitors take a seat and watch for an allotted time, and the second section is with a live museum guide.  (I’m not exactly sure about their photography policy, but I don’t think they allow it, so there’s no other photos in this post.) The first section is a presentation of the Salem witch trials where visitors get to experience the trials through a combination of narration, lighting and 13 dioramas. The trials lasted a little over a year, but they resulted in the death of 20 innocents: 19 people were hanged and 1 was pressed to death by rocks, and even 2 dogs were hanged by association. If you’ve read The Crucible by Arthur Miller, you will realize that the characters in the play are actually real people who had a part in the trials, such as Abigail Williams, Tituba and John Proctor. The second section is an exhibit called Witches: Evolving Perceptions, where a live guide explains how witches evolved from pagan midwives who used healing herbs to the modern day witch with the green skin. A bit of pagan history and Wiccan Religion is also covered. Lastly, the guide explains about the phenomenon that is “witch hunting”, which is brought on by widespread fear and a trigger that leads to a scapegoat deemed as the “witches” of society. Through this explanation, one understands that the Salem witch trials isn’t an isolated event, this phenomenon has happened again and continues to happen in society, e.g. McCarthyism.

My buddies and I spent about 1 hour at the museum; the presentation section is about 30 minutes long and the live guide section is about 10 minutes long. One should allocate an additional 10 minutes to waiting on line to get a good seat for the first section as the ticket is timed, and the doors don’t open till then, but if you don’t particularly care, you can just head in when the doors open. For the second section, the group is split into two groups (your ticket will have either A or B) as the exhibit area is smaller and can’t accommodate the large group, so while one group is in the second section, the other group can hang out in the gift shop. (Their gift shop easily fitted the second group of people. Also, what a good way to entice visitors to buy something at the gift shop.) The museum is a fairly good family trip idea, but younger children may not respond so well to the dark setting and lighting.  As Salem is most famous for the witch trials in 1692, a good place to learn about it and more about Salem is at the Salem Witch Museum.

Peabody Essex Museum

Salem, Massachusetts is best known for the Salem Witch trials that occurred in 1692. The city does have a witchy-theme, but that’s not all there is to Salem. Salem has plenty of other non-witch related places to see, one such is…

Peabody Essex Museum, located in Salem, Massachusetts

IMG_6264

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm; every third Thursday of the month, the museum is open till 9pm. Admission to the museum is $20, and an additional $5 for Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House. If you are already in Salem, the best way to get to the museum is by walking there. If you are traveling from outside of Salem, getting to the museum by car would be the best option; the museum doesn’t have its own parking lot, but there are various lots with relatively cheap rates nearby. The PEM is located in the tourist section of Salem, so there are plenty of other things to do within walking distance to make it a fun and worthwhile day trip.

The Peabody Essex Museum consists of three floors of art, and visitors can go about however they like, as there isn’t a set route to take. My main reason to visit the museum was to see the Chinese house, thus I paid the extra amount and started there first. Yin Yu Tang was built around 1800 in southeastern China, and was inhabited by eight generations of the Huang family. It was dismantled and reassembled at the PEM, and is presented as it was last inhabited in the 1980s so that visitors can learn about the architecture and culture of China. The house is two stories tall, and is decorated with a variety of objects that are original to the house that show how the Chinese lived. Yin Yu Tang has a no photography policy (thus no photos), but it comes with an audio guide for visitors to listen to as they explore to better understand the house and the decorations. Yin Yu Tang is significantly different from western style houses, and it’s worth the extra money and time to take a look.

IMG_6007IMG_6006IMG_6000 IMG_6002IMG_6008IMG_6010 IMG_6011IMG_6012IMG_6016

The first exhibit that I visited after Yin Yu Tang was on Chinese art, “Double Happiness: Celebration in Chinese Art”. The exhibit highlights the role art played in special occasions, such as seasonal festivals, religious ceremonies, birthdays, weddings, and the remembrance of the dead. The various items on display allow visitors to get a glimpse of life in China. Following is an exhibit on Native American Art, “Raven’s Many Gifts: Native Art of the Northwest Coast”. The exhibit contains art from the indigenous people of the Northwest Coast that was made throughout the past 200 years.

IMG_6019IMG_6021IMG_6022 IMG_6037IMG_6025IMG_6026 IMG_6031IMG_6030IMG_6029

“Asian Export Art: China” is located in three different rooms and all focus on porcelain. Porcelain is a ceramic material that resembles a shell’s translucent surface; porcelain making originated in China, and thus was heavily exported by the Chinese. The three different exhibits all feature a variety of porcelain objects, from figurines to vases to plates and bowls.

IMG_6042IMG_6043IMG_6044 IMG_6046IMG_6048IMG_6051 IMG_6052IMG_6057IMG_6055

The Art and Nature Center is split into two exhibits: a permanent exhibit and a special rotating exhibit. In the permanent exhibit, visitors can see birds, fish, and mammals that are found in nature; very similar to exhibits that one sees at natural history museums. (I haven’t really thought about it, but the stuffed animals we see at natural history museums are a work of art; someone has to make the animals and the displays).  The rotating exhibit was “Sizing It Up: Scale in Nature and Art”, which was on view from October 10,2015 to September 18, 2016. This exhibit focused on art that explores size and proportion, and has some interactive elements to engage visitors. I don’t really get contemporary art (or art in general), but I particularly liked the pieces where the artists manipulated everyday small objects to be larger than life, such as the donut piece above(third row left); it’s odd, but interesting.

IMG_6060IMG_6061IMG_6063 IMG_6072IMG_6069IMG_6077 IMG_6074IMG_6079IMG_6080

Moving on to the second floor is the “East India Marine Hall” that commemorates the members of the East India Marine Society, who were among the first Americans to bring back art from their travels. The exhibit features a variety of cultural objects, paintings and portraits of the members of the society. Following is an exhibit on American art, “American Art: Traditions Transformed”. The pieces featured in this exhibit are made using numerous different types of material, and are for domestic purposes with innovative twists. “Intersections: Anila Quayyum Agha” is another special rotating exhibition that is on view until October 16, 2016. The exhibit, which is inspired by traditional Islamic architecture motif, contains a single lantern that lights up the room in a geometric pattern that is quite beautiful to behold.

IMG_6083IMG_6084IMG_6093 IMG_6092IMG_6096IMG_6097 IMG_6100IMG_6104IMG_6105

Continuing on the second floor is “Japan on the Move”, an exhibit that features Japanese art from 3000 years ago to the present. In addition to figurines and paintings, the exhibit also contains a small collection of Japanese ceramics. There are two additional “Asian Export Art: China” exhibits on the second floor. The first of the two focuses on silver. China actually traded items for the silver, and then turned the raw material into a more refined form, silverware, that was then exported back to Europe. China had skilled silversmiths that copied Western pieces to exact likeness, but for a fraction of what it would cost to produce in Europe. (The beginnings of outsourcing to Asian countries?) The other exhibit focuses on other types of exported items, such as furniture, paintings, and decorative objects (it has a no photography policy, thus no photos; the exhibit is small and can be easily missed if you don’t look for it.)

IMG_6108IMG_6110IMG_6113 IMG_6115IMG_6116IMG_6117 IMG_6119IMG_6118IMG_6120 IMG_6121IMG_6122IMG_6124 IMG_6125IMG_6127IMG_6128

“Asia in Amsterdam: The Culture of Luxury in the Golden Age” was a special rotating exhibit that the museum had on view from February 27, 2016 to June 5, 2016. The exhibit explored the impact that Asian luxuries had on Dutch art and life in the 17th century. The exhibit was separated into several galleries with different themes that highlighted the influence the Asian amenities had. A variety of different objects, ranging from paintings to books to textiles to furniture, were on view.

IMG_6129IMG_6130IMG_6132 IMG_6133IMG_6137IMG_6136

First up on the third floor is an Indian art exhibit, “MegaCity: India’s Culture of the Streets”, which contains several vibrant paintings. There is also an “Asian Export Art: Japan” that focuses on porcelain and lacquer from Japan. Ceramics from Japan were only accessible to Europeans through trade with the Chinese or Dutch due to Japan’s self-imposed policy of isolation because of the rapid spread of Christianity in Japan.

IMG_6139IMG_6148IMG_6141 IMG_6142IMG_6145IMG_6146 IMG_6153IMG_6154IMG_6155 IMG_6157IMG_6158IMG_6159

Finishing out the third floor was the special rotating exhibition, “Rodin: Transforming Sculpture”, which was on view from May 14, 2016 to September 5, 2016. Auguste Rodin is such a celebrated sculptor due to his ability to capture the emotional and psychological complexities of human beings. The exhibit had a variety of iconic sculptures and works in progress, and also live performers (not sure what they were doing, they seemed to be dancing). Visitors were able to see replicas of Rodin’s most famous works, such as “The Thinker”, “The Kiss”, and “The Gates of Hell”.

img_6160img_6161img_6164 img_6165img_6175img_6178 img_6181img_6183img_6188

There are two additional exhibits on the first floor, American Art and Maritime Art, that I missed at the beginning. (They are isolated from the others and tucked away, so you might not notice them unless you are looking at the guide map.) The first I saw was on American Art, which all appear to furniture pieces and self portraits. One object that got my attention in this exhibit was the “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” sculpture, which is based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Courtship of Miles Standish. Apparently Longfellow’s narrative poem is quite famous as is the sculpture. The Maritime Art exhibit had a variety of ships and paintings relating to the sea on display.

My buddies and I spent about 3 hours at the museum; the Chinese House took about 45 minutes to explore, so if you choose not to see the house, you will need approximately 2 hours to see the museum, but as always, others may take more or less time depending on their interest. I’m not a big fan of art museums and try to avoid them when possible, but the Peabody Essex Museum was pretty exceptional, and well worth the time and money spent there. Art lovers will definitely have a great time at the museum, and the PEM is a good family day idea, as there are some exhibits that are for the younger crowd. When you’ve done all the touristy, witchy things that Salem has to offer, stop by the Peabody Essex Museum and embrace a bit of the high culture in the area.

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery

This past weekend has really felt like summer with the excessive heat, so I am really thankful that I have air conditioning. Anyways, let’s think back to better weather, maybe around late May. During Memorial Day weekend, my buddies and I went to Massachusetts where we visited Boston for a bit, but our final destination was Salem. The first place we saw was…

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, located in Salem, Massachusetts

IMG_5978

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. This schedule is applicable during the summer only, check their website for hours if you visit during any other season. Admission is $8 (save $1 if you buy the tickets online; not sure if it needs to be printed or not as I didn’t buy the tickets ahead of time.) Count Orlok’s is accessible via car and walking. If you decide to drive, there is a parking garage nearby that costs 25 cent an hour (I’ve never seen such inexpensive parking rates); you can leave your car there and explore the city for less than $5 for the whole day. Walking to the museum is an option if you are in the touristy area of Salem (near the train station). I was lucky and got a buddy to drive me around, thus I am unclear about the public transportation in Salem.  Salem is only a half hour train ride from Boston via the commuter rail, and has plenty to do, so it’s a great day trip or overnight stay idea.

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery has a no photography policy, so there’s only the exterior photo. (I’ll try to make it short.) Count Orlok’s is a cinematic monster museum that features a variety of wax figures from horror, science-fiction and fantasy films spanning from the 1920s to about 2010. Notable wax figures include Count Dracula, Frankenstein and the clown from Stephen King’s It. (Turns out I haven’t seen as many horror films as I thought I did, so the other figures are most likely notable too, but just not to me.) The museum includes plenty of information about the films. For example,  I learned that House of Wax (1953) was the first 3-D film from a major American studio. (I had no idea 3-D movies existed quite so early.) The museum creates a spooky atmosphere using dim lighting and an eerie soundtrack, which adds to the experience. In addition to wax figures, the museum also contains some autographed photos of actors who starred in the films, the life masks of famous horror celebrities, head props and even a replica of Dracula’s ring.

I spent approximately 45 minutes at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. I read everything and looked at all the exhibits super thoroughly (since I can’t rely on my pictures, I had to memorize as much as possible), so I spent quite a bit of time, but as always other visitors may take more or less time. The admission price is pretty decent for what the museum has to offer, there’s enough to see to keep me occupied, and the spooky atmosphere made it more enjoyable. Horror movie fans will definitely want to make a visit, as will anyone who enjoys wax figures. Adults and older children will probably enjoy the museum, not sure about children and anyone who scares easily. Nothing jumps out or pops up, but consider if you can handle what is offered before visiting, every person scares differently. Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is a great place to see some iconic creatures from various horror films and learn about the history of horror films, so drop by and see how these creatures came to life and became the stuff of nightmares.