Wicked Wednesday–the Best Museum

Wickeds, rounding out “the best” Wicked Wednesdays this month, tell us about your best trip to a museum, gallery or other exhibition. It could be art, furniture, crafts, technology, or something else. Why was it so memorable?

Liz: One of my favorite museum trips was to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. It was the coolest place for crime junkies like us, taking visitors through the most famous crimes in history as well as crime through the ages, from way back in the days of the wild west – and pirates. I remember walking into the lobby and seeing Jeffrey Dahmer’s real VW bug – it was creepy and fascinating at the same time. Sadly, it closed down about two years ago. But the Newseum, also in DC, is a close second for awesome museum experiences.

The BraBall, by Emily Duffy.
Photo by Sibila Savage.

Edith: What would we do without museums? Liz, I saw the Newseum last week and took pictures of the rows of daily newspaper front pages – what a beautiful thing – but we didn’t go in. I have to say the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore was one of the most fun museums I’ve ever seen (I googled “Baltimore museum of weird stuff” to get the right name…). We saw a ball made of donated bras of all sizes and colors that was as tall as me (see the creator Emily Duffy’s web site).  A huge sailing ship made of toothpicks. Odd bird’s nests and body parts sticking out of the building’s outer walls. A magic schoolbus. And lots more. The experience was part Gaudi, part Dali, part whimsy, and all delight. I highly recommend a visit to AVAM.

Jessie: I recently took a trip to the International Spy Museum in Washington with two of my kids. It was such fun to see the buttonhole cameras, recording devices and propaganda posters from other eras. I loved crawling quietly through the ductwork of a pretend office building ceiling as part of an immersive experience.  Probably the most interesting to me personally was a photograph of a WWI era pigeon. Why was that, you ask? Because pigeons are part of the fun in the next Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder Flies the Coop!

Sherry: Jessie, I love that you are using pigeons in your next book! I grew up in Davenport, Iowa which had a wonderful museum and art gallery. In fourth grade they loaded us up on a train and took us to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. It was amazing. A heart that you could walk through and listen to it beat. A coal mine. Model trains. But best of all an amazing fairy castle doll house — the story of it is fascinating. Sigh. I’ve always loved doll houses. I was lucky to have parents that indulged my sister’s and my curiosity so we visited lots of museums as we traveled around the country. And now I live outside of Washington DC with its amazing selection of museums.

Julie: I have a museum date with one of my nieces on Thursday–we’re going to the MFA in Boston, one of my favorite places on earth. I’ve been blessed to go to museums all over the world and in this country, and have many happy memories. But my favorite? I always dreamed of going to Egypt, and nine years ago I realized my dream. To be in Egypt, and to go to the Cairo Museum where treasure are laid out all over the place–that was a treat on so many levels.

Barb: I had trouble picking the “best” with this question as I did all the others. Gun to my head, I’ll go with the David Hockney exhibit I saw with my husband and daughter in 2012 at the Royal Academy in London. Kate was there getting her Master’s degree and Bill and I came over for her spring break. I happened to read that there was a Hockney exhibit that would end while we were there. The exhibition was so popular our tickets were for 10:30 on a Tuesday night. I love Hockney and I love, loved the show. You can read what I wrote about it here. Second favorite: The Gee’s Bend Quilts at the Whitney in 2003.

Readers: What is your favorite museum, gallery or exhibition?

25 Thoughts

  1. I occasionally stop in at one of our small, local museums: Sumner Hall, Turner’s Creek, the local galleries. Chestertown, MD has a range of smaller attractions without the thick crowds the big city museums always seem to have.

    1. In retirement Bill and I have gotten pretty good at timing our arrival at museums–after school groups have left and before the after work crowd arrives.

  2. And we can celebrate the the small local museums too, right? My town of Middleboro has a Tom Thumb Museum (which is, appropriately, tiny), because his wife, Lavinia Bump, was born here, and the house they built during their heyday is still standing, though in private hands now. Our local police station began life as a grocery store over a century ago, and finally the department is moving to a different building. I’m hoping that the old one will be put to good use as another kind of museum (the town fathers and mothers are still discussing options). We all need to be reminded of our history.

  3. My favorite museum would have to be The Cloisters in upper Manhattan. My mother loved that museum and took us there when we were kids. I inherited her passion for it. When I lived in the city, I’d just go up and hang out there by myself. I once met a stained glass artist who told me there are two lives to a stained glass window – the life of the light coming through it, and the life of looking at it from the inside. That went right into a play I was writing, “The Quando Si Sposa Fund.”

  4. So many good museums! My youngest daughter lives in the DC area, and every time I visit I try to get to at least one or two more of the Smithsonian museums. Did you know there’s a US Postal Museum in DC? We saw the Postsecret exhibit there last year, and at Thanksgiving we were lucky enough to visit the Renwick Gallery while the Frances Glessner Lee Nutshell Studies of murder scenes was on display.

    When I go to Malice this year I’m hoping to stop in at the International Spy Museum. It was closed for awhile, so I’ve not been able to go yet. Anyone want to join me?

    1. I so wanted to see the Nutshell Studies, but when we are in the DC area we’re with my four-year-old granddaughter, and I didn’t think it would be appropriate!

      I call the Spy Museum the Bad Spy Museum, since the only spies we know about are the ones who get caught.

      1. I went to the Spy Museum with Eve Sandstrom (who writes as Joanna Carl) a couple of years ago and we had a ball. The ground floor was aimed at children, but it gets more interesting upstairs. Ooh, James Bond’s Aston Martin!

  5. It might be cheating, but I’m going with the Smithsonian. I did several (Art, TV, Space, Natural History) when I was just out of college and it was amazing. My girl has done the Holocaust museum (she recommends it, but bring tissues) and we both want to go to the African American museum in DC.

  6. Am I going to shock anyone when I pick the Disney Family Museum? I went there not too long after it opened with my parents, and they really enjoyed it, too. We didn’t plan long enough and had to hurry through the second half of his life. (Don’t get me started, however, on why it is up in the San Francisco area since he never lived up there!!!!!)

    A close second would be the Reagan Presidential library. After a friend dragged me there, I went back multiple times a year for a few years, often when I was going to a book signing in the area. My trips have slowed down considerably (I haven’t been in several years at this point) because the book store I would go to in the area closed down and they raised their prices when they got Air Force One. However, it is worth going for Air Force One. Pretty cool to see what it is really like.

    1. I didn’t know about the Disney Family Museum. Sounds intriguing. I haven’t been to the Reagan Presidential Library. We did get to the Nixon one when my son was at UCLA. And of course the Kennedy Library is right in Boston where we lived for years.

  7. Like many of you, picking one is impossible. The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry (which I was bused to for an 8th grade class trip) are certainly near the top. The History Center in Fort Wayne, IN, is a favorite because it is now located in the old City Hall where my daddy worked and I practically grew up. The Mustard Museum in Middletown, WI is a wonderful experience. And then there are all the off-the-wall little museums all over the country that I’ve bumped into one way or another. And all the archeological and art museums in Peru. I love them all!

    1. I love the Art Institute and have been several times, but I haven’t been to any of the others. I vacationed in WI last fall. So sorry I missed the Mustard Museum!

  8. One of my favorites is the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. It was amazing to see so many of my favorite Edgar Degas & Vincent van Gogh paintings in one place.

  9. One of my most memorable museum visits was to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village over 30 years ago. It was for a conference. I enjoyed a cocktail party in the museum while looking at a gigantic space filled with tools and gadgets, a run through Main Street of Greenfield Village seeing things like Lincoln’s one-room schoolhouse and the general store. The Museum of Textile History in Lowell donated most of their clothing collection to the Henry Fold Museum and my mother’s wedding suit from Bonwit Teller was one of those donations. I definitely want to go there again.

  10. My family LOVED the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago too!! It was awesome. I also really enjoyed the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. We were in the tiny apartment where she wrote Gone With the Wind. We recently went to the Downton Abbey Exhibition in NYC. LOVED IT!!

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