Tag Archives: museums

Expo Barbie

I finally managed to get a post out before the end of the month, so there’s hope that a second post will come along this month. Cross your fingers everyone. Anyways, continuing on in Montreal…

Expo Barbie located in Montreal, Quebec
(Barbie Expo)

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Expo Barbie, or the Barbie Expo as us English speaking folks call it, is open Monday to Wednesday from 9am to 8pm, Thursday to Friday from 9am to 9pm, Saturday from 9am to 6pm, and Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Admission to the Barbie Expo is free, but they do accept donations that will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Barbie Expo is located within Les Cours Mont-Royal, a shopping center in downtown Montreal, so it is easily accessible by walking, driving or public transportation. Walking is the best option if you happen to be within the surrounding vicinity of downtown Montreal as you can save money and take in the sites as you walk to the Barbie Expo. If you are further away, one option is to drive, but you will have to pay for parking in the underground garage of Les Cours Mont-Royal (not really sure how much as I didn’t have a car). Another option is to take public transportation; there are several bus stops nearby, so the bus is a good idea, or take the 1 train to Peel metro station, which has an exit into the building ( however, Les Cours Mont-Royal is kinda maze like though, as I remember having trouble finding the station entrance within the building when I was trying to leave afterwards). Other museums to visit nearby to make it a fun day out include the McCord Museum and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, or just explore Les Cours Mont-Royal and shop till you drop (if that’s your thing).

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Expo Barbie encompasses quite a large section within Les Cours Mont-Royal, so there are many barbies within the exhibit. The Barbie Expo is advertised as an exhibition of haute couture, so plenty of the barbies on display are wearing clothing from leading fashion houses such as Giorgio Armani, Bob Mackie and Oscar de la Renta. There are barbies dressed as people from the entertainment industry, such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Heidi Klum and even a doll of Elvis Presley. The barbies also dress up as fictional characters from movies, such as Rose from Titanic, Katniss from The Hunger Games, and Sandy from Grease. There are many more custom-made, one of a kind barbies on display that shouldn’t be missed. In addition, the barbies feature in a few dioramas that add more color and movement to the exhibit. And if you’ve ever wanted to be a barbie, there is a full-size barbie box that you can take a photo in.

My usual travel buddy and I spent about 45 minutes at the Barbie Expo, but as always, other visitors will take more or less time depending on their interest. (We ran into this lady who’s been visiting for about an hour each day for several days already to take a photo of each and every barbie, which is way more than my allocated 45 minutes.) The Barbie Expo is free, so it’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Anyone interested in barbies and/or fashion will want to take a trip to the Barbie Expo, as it’s probably the largest collection of barbies in one setting that is accessible to the general public. The Barbie Expo is a good family day trip idea for families with girls as they tend to be more interested in barbies than boys, but why not take the boys too, they might enjoy it as well. Barbie is one of the most iconic toys in the world, and she now has her museum, so go marvel at the walls and walls of barbies at the Expo Barbie.

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Insectarium de Montréal

February is a short month, so it’s going to be a short post. This post was originally going to be combined with another, but then I felt it was unfair to not highlight each place, so I decided to split them apart. Next up in Montreal…

Insectarium de Montréal, located in Montreal, Quebec
(Montreal Insectarium)

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The Insectarium de Montréal is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm, and is closed on Mondays. Admission to the Insectarium is 20.50 CAD, which is approximately 16USD, but it also includes the admission to the Montreal Botanical Garden. The Montreal Insectarium is part of the Space for Life, which means that there are a variety of packages that visitors can choose from to visit one, two or all of the museums.  The Montreal Insectarium is also included in the Montreal Museum Pass, so consider that option if you plan to visit Montreal for at least three days and there are other museums that are of interest. The Insectarium can be reached by walking, driving or taking public transportation.  If you are already near the Space for Life complex, than walking is a really good option, but if you are further away, say downtown Montreal, then look for a different option to get there as it’s quite a long walk. If you plan to drive, note that there is parking available, but it costs 12CAD a day, however you are allowed to park in any of the lots available at the Space for Life complex. It public transportation is your choice, both the Montreal metro and bus will get you to the Insectarium de Montréal, so check out the Montreal transportation website for more information. Visit the other museums at the Space for Life complex to make it a fun day out.

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The Insectarium de Montréal is located in a small building that consists of the first floor and the basement. All displays have explanations in both English and French, so most visitors will be able to understand the information. The insectarium contains two exhibits, “We Are the Insects” and “Atta Ants”. “We Are the Insects” is the bigger of the two, and takes up part of the first floor and the whole basement level.  (It’s very befitting to use the basement since bugs are typically found underground.) The first floor section of the exhibit  gives a brief overview on insects, such as the characteristics of an insect, and how insects are classified and named. Descending into the basement level, visitors can learn about the different habitats that insects can live in, when the various insects are active, the wide range of food that bugs dine on, the arsenal of self-defense mechanisms that bugs use to survive, the seduction techniques that bugs employ to reproduce future generations, and the organizations around the world that are working to protect insects. The Insectarium also has a short film playing in the basement level, however the film was in French, so I didn’t see it, thus I’m unsure as to how long it is or what the film is about. The second exhibit “Atta Ants” focuses ants and their social organization. (I didn’t spend too long as I’m not the biggest fan of ants, I was worried some might crawl on me.)

My usual travel buddy and I spent about 30 minutes at the Insectarium de Montréal, but we did skip the film and aren’t the biggest fans of bugs, so it might take another 15-30 minutes to go through thoroughly. However, as always, others’ visit times will vary depending on their interest in the subject. Admission to the Montreal Insectarium seems expensive at first, but don’t forget that it includes admission to the Montreal Botanical Garden, so it’s pretty decently priced. People who like bugs will definitely want to visit as you are surrounded by bugs in all directions. The insectarium is a good family day trip idea as it has some fun displays that are geared toward children and some that are more informational for the adults. Bugs are all around us, but often we don’t pay enough attention to them except to note what an annoyance they are, so why not take the time to learn more at the Insectarium de Montréal.

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.

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.

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.