Museum Impressions, JFK Presidential Library and Museum

June 13, 2019

In previous posts, I wrote about museums I have visited during my childhood and adolescence. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is one that I visited both during my childhood and later when I attended the New England Museum Association conference in 2014.

In addition to visiting the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, I also visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in my younger years with my grandmother and the rest of my family. Later when I attended the New England Museum Association (NEMA) conference in 2014, the Presidential Library and Museum hosted the Opening Party that took place on the evening of the first day of the NEMA conference and was hosted by the Gowrie Group. When participants arrived at the Museum, we had the opportunity to not only enjoy drinks and appetizers but we also were able to explore the exhibits dedicated to John F. Kennedy’s presidency and his legacy.

One of the exhibits that I saw during the Opening Party was the Oval Office exhibit. In the exhibit, it contains film footage from 1963 related to the civil rights movement including but not limited to the April civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama and President Kennedy’s June 11, 1963 televised address to the nation on civil rights. On display there is a selection of personal items President Kennedy displayed in the Oval Office as well as a replica of President Kennedy’s desk, the HMS Resolute desk. The desk was originally designed and built by William Evenden at the Chatham dockyard in England which was ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who wished to install a safe and block his leg braces from view. During the Kennedy administration, Jackie Kennedy discovered the desk and she returned it to the Oval Office because of President Kennedy’s love of the sea and interest in naval history.

Since visiting the JFK Presidential Library and Museum last time, I decided to take a closer look at their website to see any developments at the Museum. In addition to the Oval Office, the other permanent exhibits that are in the Museum are Young Jack catch glimpses of Kennedy as a boy, a student, a decorated war hero, and the touchstones of his early life; 1960 Presidential Election; The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy; JFK Meets the Press which focused on his press conferences and everything in the exhibit expressed the narrative that Kennedy was the first president to conduct live televised press conferences; The Peace Corps, the hallmark of his administration; White House Corridor: Gifts from Heads of State; Ceremonial Room which is dedicated to President and Mrs. Kennedy’s social and diplomatic occasions that celebrated American history, culture, and achievement; Lift Off! The U.S. Space Program; Robert Kennedy’s ‘s Attorney General Office; First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy which covers her early life and her achievements as First Lady; and State Visit to Europe which took place during the summer of 1963.

There is also an archives at the Museum to do research about Kennedy and his presidency, and individuals can make an appointment to visit the research center. The Museum also offers a variety of education programs for teachers, students, adults, and families. For instance, teachers can look through information including but not limited to school visits, curricular resources, civic education programs and materials, New Frontiers newsletter, a mailing list for educators to receive periodic updates from the Department of Education and Public Programs, and professional development opportunities. I personally appreciate that there is a mailing list for educators to receive information from the Museum because they have an opportunity to learn more about updates in education programs which encourages them to book return visits, and as a museum educator I know the significance of repeat and new visits.

As an individual who was born and raised in Massachusetts, I was especially made aware of the history of President Kennedy. In a blog post I wrote about my visit to the Kennedy Museum in Hyannis, I pointed out my family’s encouragement of learning about history especially learning about President Kennedy. I feel a connection to history and to the history of Kennedy as a result of the encouragement I had. I recommend visiting the website, and the Presidential Library and Museum if you have the opportunity to do so. There is a lot of information that I cannot include in the blog post and below I have links to both the Presidential Library and Museum and my last blog I wrote about President Kennedy.

Resources:

https://www.jfklibrary.org/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2018/11/29/patron-request-museum-impressions-john-f-kennedy-hyannis-museum/

Museum Impressions: Museum of Science, Boston

May 30, 2019

I have been to a number of museums during my childhood and in current years. This week’s post is a museum I visited during my childhood: the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts. I visited the museum with my family and one of the exhibits that stood out to me was the history of roller coasters. The exhibit took place inside of an IMAX theater where visitors sat in front of a screen that not only showed a documentary of roller coasters but the chairs we sit in simulate being on a roller coaster. Another exhibit that I found interesting was Museum of Science: Then and Now exhibit. The Museum of Science: Then and Now is a permanent exhibit that shows visitors how the museum evolved over the last 180 years to meet the changing needs of society through interactive displays and artifacts. It tells the story of the Museum of Science beginning in 1830 when a group of doctors and lawyers met in Boston to establish the Boston Society of Natural History, which quickly amassed a collection of specimens from across New England and around the world. Then the exhibit continued with various changes and the museum’s plans for the future. I recently visited the website and saw what they currently have to offer for the visitors.

The Museum of Science in Boston’s mission, according to their website, is to play a leading role in transforming the nation’s relationship with science and technology. One of the current events occurring at the Museum that stood out to me was Red Sox weekend since I grew up in a Red Sox family and I thought it is an interesting partnership that I have not seen before in other museum programs. The Red Sox and the Museum partnered together to host a fun-filled roster of activities combining the spirit of baseball with the learning opportunities of STEM. During the weekend, visitors can participate in activities including a Sox-themed Design Challenge where they can build and test prototypes to solve a problem. Their aim is to produce baseball-inspired STEM material for the members of Red Sox Kid Nation and collaborate on family-friendly programs, activities, and events throughout the year at Fenway Park and at the Museum; at Fenway, they offer the mascots Wally and Tessie’s STEM workbook for kids to use. It takes place this weekend on June 1st and June 2nd, 2019 from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

It is impressive how much is offered at the Museum of Science in Boston. For instance, they have live presentations, drop-in activities, IMAX Films, Planetarium Shows, 4-D Films, Butterfly Garden, Thrill Ride 360°, Summer Courses, and Duck Tours. The Museum offers a number of live demonstrations every day, most of which are free with Exhibit Halls admission. A couple of examples of the live demonstrations include live animal presentations, live animal story time for preschoolers, science magic, and the amazing Nano Brothers juggling show. The Museum offers a variety of hands-on activities daily, and encourage visitors to stop by during program hours and stay as long or as little as they like; a few examples of the drop-in activities are Astronomy After Hours, Design Challenges, and hands-on laboratory.

The Museum of Science also screens IMAX films in its theater, the Mugar Omni Theater, which has the world’s largest film format is projected onto a five-story-tall IMAX® Dome screen. This theater wraps audiences in larger-than-life images of flora, fauna, and faraway places, and a state-of-the-art digital sound system completes the immersion effect. The current screenings show Cuba through the eyes of Cuban artists, historians, and scientists, the Great Barrier Reef, and Volcanos. In the museum, there is a planetarium called the Charles Hayden Planetarium where visitors can explore our universe and beyond with one of our many space science Planetarium shows, like Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun and Explore: The Universe.

Also, the museum offers screenings of 4-D films which combines the visually captivating high-definition capabilities of a 3-D film with in-theater special effects such as wind and snow. A couple of examples of 4-D films are Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles: 4-D Undersea Adventure and Small Foot 4-D Experience. Based on the hit PBS Kids show Splash and Bubbles, the film follows Dunk who has lost his lucky pebble and his best friends Splash, Bubbles, and Ripple want museum visitors to join them in the search. In Small Foot 4-D Experience, a yeti discovers a human and tries to convince the rest of the yeti community that humans, or small foot, exist.

The Museum also has a Butterfly Garden that overlooks the Charles River and offers an opportunity to get close to a variety of living butterflies from New England and across the world. Visitors can explore the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly by learning about the four stages of a butterfly’s life and exploring the terrariums with a variety of live specimens that offer insight into the butterfly’s relationship to its animal and insect ancestors. In the Thrill Ride 360°, participants can twist and turn in the simulators with full-motion, 360-degree pitch, roll, and spin technology, and surround sound as they can either design their own roller coaster and ride it or ride in the pilot’s seat to fly over Boston’s famous landmarks. The summer courses are offered to students entering grades 1 – 8 who can choose from a variety of hands-on, week-long courses with topics ranging from bugs to robots to food chemistry.

Museum visitors can also participate in Duck Tours departing at the Museum of Science’s entrance. The tours give visitors a great overview of the city, show many unique neighborhoods, and take people into the Charles River for a view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines. I have participated in a few Duck Tours in my lifetime, and a couple of times were with my family; one with just my siblings and parents and another time was a family reunion with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother to celebrate the life of our grandfather who passed away earlier that year. The most recent Duck Tour I participated in was with my now husband for one of our dating anniversary celebrations. I enjoyed not only learning about the history of Boston but spending time with my loved ones and interacting with the people of Boston.

I could go on and on about what is offered at the Museum of Science in Boston but it would be an extremely long blog post for this week. Therefore, I recommend checking out their website to learn more about what they offer throughout the year.

Resource:

https://www.mos.org/