Oct 5, 2010

Take Your Brain on Vacation - Visit a Museum

Take your brain on vacation – visit a museum. On Saturday, September 25, H. Lee White Marine Museum, the Mexico Museum and Casey’s Cottage at Mexico Point Park will participate in the Smithsonian Magazine’s sixth annual Museum Day. They will join over 1,300 museums and cultural institutions across the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico who will be opening their doors free to those who present a coupon downloaded from the Smithsonian’s Museum Day Web site.

No matter where you find yourself on September 25 you are sure to be near a participating museum or venue. Visit www.smithsonian.com/museumday to learn more about the program and to download the coupon. Visitors who present the coupon gain free admission for two people at participating museums and cultural venues. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address.

On September 25, the Mexico Historical Society’s Museum will hold an Open House from 10 to 3. The Mexico Museum tells the story of the Mexico area and recently the Museum took on a new look with all new displays.

And, Casey’s Cottage at Mexico Point Park will be open from 2 to 5. Casey’s Cottage was a carriage house for Mexico Point Inn that was transformed into an 11th century manor house by Dr. William Casey, a professor of sociology at Columbia University, and Severin Bishof, an artist of note. The walls, floors and ceilings have carvings, etchings, and quotes from the 11th century.

Also participating is the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego detailing the maritime history of the Central New York. Centerpiece of the Marine Museum's holdings is the National Historic Landmark veteran of the WWII Normandy Invasion, the U.S. Army LT-5 tugboat. The Museum also maintains two floors of rooms that showcase a fascinating array of nautical artifacts from the 18th through the 20th centuries.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Approximately 30 million people from around the world visited the Smithsonian in 2009.

To my way of thinking any day is a good day to visit a museum. Museums have been around since ancient times. They are wonderful repositories of history, art and culture. There is always something to learn. One of the oldest museums was in Alexandria in Egypt that included the famous Library of Alexandria. Private individuals started most early museums with entrance allowed at the whim of the owner. Like today they were repositories of history, art and literature.

The first museums that allowed public access opened in Europe during the 1700s, the Age of Enlightenment. One of the earliest museums was the Royal Armory in the Tower of London that opened in 1660, followed by other museums in major cities across Europe. However, access for the public was often limited with permission sometimes difficult to obtain.

During what is called the Age of Museums from the late 19th century to the earliest 20th century there was a boom in museum building. Today everyone lives within a short drive of a museum. There are museums dedicated to one specific topic like the Jell-O Museum in LeRoy and those like the Smithsonian that cover all facets of human culture. While admission to some of the larger museums is expensive they often offer free admission on specific days or evenings. Most have reduced rates for families, seniors and groups.