Happy Book Birthday: Museum Style

Wicked Accomplice Sheila Connolly’s Dead End Street, her seventh Museum Mystery, is released today!

deadendstreetHere’s the blurb:

When the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society discovers it owns some unique real estate, a deadly plot unfolds . . .

Society president Nell Pratt believes life is finally going her way. Everything’s running smoothly at work, and her love life is thriving. Then some unexpected news rocks her foundation. Two members of a local neighborhood rescue program, Tyrone Blakeney and Cherisse Chapman, inform Nell that her society owns an abandoned row house in a rundown area of Philadelphia and they insist on taking her to see the property before its date with the wrecking ball.

But soon after they arrive at the house, Cherisse is fatally shot and Tyrone is badly injured. The police believe it’s just random violence in a bad neighborhood, but Nell thinks there’s more to it and is determined to find answers before someone else becomes history . . .

In celebration, we Wickeds are thinking about museums. Wicked, what is the first visit to a museum you remember and what made it memorable?

Liz: Congrats, Sheila! Another one to add to the reading pile! The first museum I remember visiting is Boston’s Museum of Science when I was six or so. My parents were big on education, even during vacation, so off we went. It was a big weekend – we were staying overnight in the city and everything. I loved looking at the dinosaur bones, but cool as those were it wasn’t the most memorable part of the trip. What stands out to this day is the fire alarm that went off in our hotel in the middle of the night. My father slept right through it, and I remember standing at the window listening to all the sirens coming our way and wondering if we were going to make it out of the building. I don’t think there really was a fire, but it certainly was a weekend to remember!Lake Pit Hero

Edith: I’m excited to read this next installment, Sheila! I grew up near Los Angeles, and I remember going to the museum of the La Brea Tar Pits. In our family, we were fond of saying “The the tar tar pits,” since that’s what La Brea means. Anyway, the museum had ice age animal models and bones that had been preserved by the tar, as I recall. And that’s about all I recall.

Jessie:You never cease to amaze, Sheila! Congrats! The first museum I remember visiting was when I was in kindergarten. The thing I vividly remember about the place was an exhibit of human fetuses floating in jars. They were at all stages of development and it was really disturbing. It took me a long time to get so I wanted to visit a museum after that!

rembrandtBarb: Congratulations, Sheila! You’re an inspiration to us all. I have two memories of early museum visits and I honestly can’t say which came first. One was a class trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in elementary school. One skinny little kid, I wish I could remember his name, leaned all the way over an Egyptian burial urn, saw the desiccated body at the bottom, and dramatically threw up, much to the hysteria of the teachers, chaperones and museum guards. The second was also at the Met, seeing Rembrandt’s “Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer” just after it was purchased, which the internet helpfully tells me was in 1961, when I was eight. There was a long wait, and I remember coming up some stairs, and the painting just punched me in the face, it was so dramatic and alive. It was the first time I’d experienced the emotional power of fine art and I’ve never forgotten it.

Julie: Congratulations Sheila! Happy Book Birthday! I love this topic, though I don’t remember! I suspect it was the Science Museum in Boston, though we lived near Plymouth growing up, and I remember going to some smaller Pilgrim themed museums, which count. I am a huge museum fan, and here in Boston you don’t have to go far without tripping over history. I am loving the Design Museum here in Boston, which includes nomadic exhibitions all over the city. Expanding the definition of what a museum is –I love that.

Sherry: I love museums and the different aspects Sheila tackles in this series! I grew up in Davenport, Iowa and we were lucky enough to have a wonderful museum (it was opened in 1867 and was one of the first museums west of the Mississippi) and Davenport Municipal Art Museum (now the Figge Art Museum). I was always fascinated with the geological section of the museum and you could buy a bag of polished rocks! When we were allowed to do that it was like taking home a bag of treasures. The art museum has the archives for Iowa artist Grant Wood — the painter of American Gothic. I love that the cover artist for Edith’s Local Food series, Robin Moline, does some paintings in a similar style to Wood. You can see more of Robin’s work here. I was lucky to live in a town with two such fabulous places to go.

Readers: Do you remember the first museum you went to?

22 Thoughts

  1. My mother said she took me first to the Peabody in Salem, but I recall I went alone. I walked over from my grandparents’. I wanted to see the poor buffalo. That was not the first museum I visited, however.

    The first museum I went to was the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard. Our school classes usually went each year—there or the Children’s Museum. I was traumatized by seeing the 2 mummified Peruvian? indigenous people on display. They were posed with decorative items in a glass case at child-eye level. It was something that never left me. Years later, when I went to school there, my first house room was across the street from the museum, and I could see the stairwell that led to the rooms and the storage areas where they are now kept.

    The entire experience is too long of a story to tell here, but briefly: A visiting professor of Native American studies, an Apache elder, walked over with me, so I could find a way to manage visiting the collection for my own studies and a job she says I was destined to get. It seems maybe she was right. I was surprised at meeting her at the Native American Program potluck my first week, because she had admitted me to her PhD program at Santa Barbara, but I decided on theology instead of Native American religious studies.

    I wrote a poem about my life-long connection to the Peabody and that got me started on my theology course work. I finally had something to say.

  2. I seem to have an interesting strategy for promoting a new book: leave the country. Thank you for the mentions. I will put my time away to good use: I may learn to milk a cow. Or watch one give birth. Don’t have a story in mind for either, but I’ll work on it.

    First museum: the Museum of Natural History in New York and all those dinosaurs (and the giant hanging blue whale). Is that where they kept the mummies too? My grandmother lived in NYC when I was growing up, so we saw a lot of museums and department stores.

    1. My brother’s first museum story is from the Museum of Natural History, too. At about three, he ran from diorama to diorama, finally throwing up his arms in the center of the big room and shouting, “Mom! Dad! It’s a dead zoo!”

      1. Barb, I see you one three-year-old sibling story and raise you one. My mother was leading my little sister through the Greek/Roman statuary at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My sister checks out the unclothes statues and announces loudly, “oh, THAT’s a dingle-dangle.”

      2. I want to know the word stress: did he say a DEAD zoo, or a dead ZOO. The first implying a zoo of the dead, and the second that the zoo is dead, of course.

      3. I want to know the word stress: did he say a DEAD zoo, or a dead ZOO? The first implying a zoo of the dead, and the second that the zoo is dead, of course.

  3. Congratulations on your latest book, Sheila! I am adding this one to my ever growing list of wonderful books I must read. The first museum I remember visiting was The Smithsonian in Washington D.C. We took a class trip when I was in the third grade with one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Jones. I remember more about her outfit than the trip itself because she wore white go-go boots.

    1. I didn’t get to the Smithsonian until I was ten, but I still have vivid memories of the place (and not only because I’ve been since.)

  4. The Museum of Natural History in New York – seeing dinosaurs staring down at me and that long whale above my head. Loved it all.


    1. See my story about my brother under Sheila’s comment. The Museum of Natural history is an amazing place, and not just for kids.

  5. (Ha! I remembered my log in today.)

    Congrats again on the new book.

    I know I went to the Exploritorium, a hands on science museum in San Francisco at an early age. I couldn’t tell you when it was, however.

      1. Ooh, my friend Mel’s long time partner is one of the lead engineers. He gave my boys and me a special tour about twenty years ago. What do they remember? Mel’s red 66 Mustang!

  6. The first museum I remember visiting was a piano museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. I must have been about 5 at the time. It was attached to a piano factory, and my Dad had worked there as a piano demonstrator while he was finishing up his degree at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Some of the people there remembered him, so we got to go places the public didn’t get to go. I’d been taking piano lessons for a while, so they let me play on the biggest piano I’d ever seen. It was even bigger than the one we had at church (that was a steinway grand, so this one must have been one of those huge concert grands). The same visit we went to the Museum of Natural History, and I remember being frightened by the dinosaur skeletons.

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