Virtual Museum Impressions: Peabody Essex Museum

October 29, 2020

Since it has been a while, I decided to plan another virtual trip to a museum. In a previous visit to Salem, Massachusetts, I was not able to visit the Peabody Essex Museum and decided to write about my virtual experience. According to their website, the Peabody Essex Museum is a museum of international art and culture that is dedicated to connecting art to the world. Also, the staff and board strive to create experiences that transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the world through exhibitions, programs, publications, media, and other related activities.

During my visit to the Peabody Essex Museum, I took virtual tours of their exhibits that were available on their website. Each tour has a 360-degree experience within their spaces powered by Matterport Lightshed Photography Studio; to move around in the space, I clicked on the rings and used the mouse to zoom in/out, and to look all around. The exhibits I explored were Jacob Lawrence: the American Struggle, Asian Export, Fashion & Design, Maritime, Where the Questions Live, Art & Nature Center, and Powerful Figures.

Jacob Lawrence was a leading modern American painter and the most prominent black American artist of the time. In the exhibit Jacob Lawrence: the American Struggle, his pieces were his responses to the fraught national political climate and according to the exhibit panel he wanted to visualize a more complete American history through word and image. The exhibit is a series of 30 paintings that interpret pivotal moments in from the American Revolution and the early decades of the republic between 1770 and 1817; his goal was to revive the struggles of the founding fathers and underrepresented historical figures in his art for his day and for future generations.

A couple of the paintings include ones that interpret the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s Ride. Each painting included a quote from historical figures or primary sources on the side panels next to them. For instance, his interpretation of the Boston Tea Party had a quote from a song of 1773 which stated:

Rally Mohawks!

            Bring out your axes,

            and tell King George

            we’ll pay no taxes

            on his foreign tea…

While exploring the exhibit, I thought that the interpretations were interesting and visually striking especially since I was used to seeing paintings like the Signing of The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull as an example of historical interpretation in art. I believe Lawrence achieved his goal with his painting series and I enjoyed the virtual experience.

The Peabody Essex Museum not only provides virtual tours but there are also at-home programs inspired by the museum. For instance, there is a program called PEM Pals that is located on PEM’s YouTube channel. PEM Pals is a weekly program dedicated to art, stories and learning for children under the age of 5 and their caretakers; each new episode are streamed at 10:30am Eastern Standard Time on Wednesdays. There is also Drop-In Art Activities that provides video tutorials to create various projects including but not limited to: milk jug elephants, egg carton ladybugs, cotton swab tree painting, plastic bottle chandelier, map making, and bubble bottle. Another example of at-home programs is Explore Outside in which participants are encouraged to go outdoors to investigate the world with nature-based activity sheets for bird watching, neighborhood tree trek, and scavenger hunts.

One of the exhibits that are available in person with a sample of objects from the exhibit available online was The Salem Witch Trials 1692. It is on view from September 26, 2020 to April 4, 2021. The exhibit explored the hysteria that involved more than 400 people and led to the deaths of 25 innocent people (men, women, and children) between June 1692 and March 1693. There are many unfounded theories about the Salem Witch Trials about how the hysteria started, and interest in the Trials still persist to this day. If you are able to see it in person, I recommend visiting this exhibit.

I hope to visit the Peabody Essex Museum in person one day. To learn more about the Museum, check out the links below.

Happy Halloween!!

Links:

Peabody Essex Museum

The Salem Witch Trials 1692

Learning from 1692 by Dinah Cardin

Virtual Tours

Museums I Visited While I Was in College: Springfield Museums

Added on August, 8, 2019

For this month’s patron request, I am going to share memories of museums I visited back when I was in college. If you would like to learn more about Patreon and make your own requests please visit my Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/lindseysteward . One of my previous blog posts had my memories of visiting the Salem Witch Museum as Historical Society Club Treasurer in college, and to learn more about the experience check out the link here after reading this post. Another museum I visited during college was Springfield Museums which was not far from where I went to college in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Springfield Museums is in downtown Springfield and provides access to five museums under one admission. According to their website, the Museums inspire exploration of our connections to art, history and science through outstanding collections, exhibitions and programs. The mission was apparent during my visits to the Springfield Museums. My first visit was during another Historical Society trip, and the museums I remember visiting were the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts and the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History.

The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum is an art museum which holds the eclectic collections of George Walter Vincent Smith (1832-1923) and his wife, Belle Townsley Smith (1845-1928) in an Italian palazzo-style building established in 1896. Their collections include but not limited to examples of Japanese lacquer, arms and armor, ceramics and bronzes; and one of the largest collections of Chinese cloisonné outside of Asia. Also, the collection contains significant American 19th-century paintings (especially landscape and genre), Italian 19th-century watercolors, a fine assembly of Greek and Roman antiquities, a rare plaster cast collection, objects created for 19th-century International Expositions and examples of lace and early textiles.

The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts was established in 1933 and located in an Art Deco style building. It includes a comprehensive collection of American, Asian and European paintings, prints, watercolors and sculpture and representative examples of drawing, furniture, metalwork, textiles, glass and ceramics. Inside the museum, it houses a comprehensive collection of European Art (French, Dutch, and Italian) and the Currier & Ives (active 1834-1907) Collection is the largest holdings of lithographs in the nation.

The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History is known for its local history research facility. Also, the museum is known for its comprehensive program of changing exhibitions, its diverse educational offerings, and the wide-ranging collections that illuminates the history of the Connecticut River Valley.

I visited the museums not only as part of a Historical Society trip but for classes as requirements for my studies at college. I took a culture course on France and French Caribbean, and one of our assignments included a visit as a class to the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts to see and discuss the French art collection. Another course I took was an art course in which I visited the art museums to use resources available to complete assignments.

At each visit to Springfield Museums, I visited the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. The Garden celebrates Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, in the city in which he was born and raised. After Dr. Seuss’ death, his wife, Audrey, authorized the museums to create the memorial which features bronze sculptures of his characters. At the time of my visits, it was the only connection to Dr. Seuss that the museums had in its campus. When I was still a college student, they were still working on establishing a museum dedicated to his life and work.

Now there is a museum called The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum that is devoted to Dr. Seuss. According to the website, it features family friendly, interactive exhibits that explores his Springfield roots and provides opportunities to experiment with new sounds and vocabulary, play rhyming games, and invent stories. The museum also features a recreated studio and living room of Geisel’s, and never been publicly displayed art, family photographs, and letters.

Since there is so much to see, I did not see everything in the museum system. For instance, I have not seen exhibits in the Springfield Science Museum. It houses permanent collections of Natural Science, Anthropology and Physical Science. The Science Museum also includes Seymour Planetarium which consists of the historic Korkosz Starball, the oldest operating star-projector in the United States. I recommend if one can do so to visit the Springfield Museums and see the vast collections; be sure to dedicate a lot of time to see as much as possible.

Resources:

https://springfieldmuseums.org/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2018/10/04/patron-request-museum-impressions-salem-witch-museum/

Patron Request: Museum Impressions, JFK Presidential Library and Museum

June 13, 2019

For this month’s patron request, I am going to give my impressions about John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. In previous patron requests, 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. If you would like to learn more about Patreon and make your own requests please visit my Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/lindseysteward .

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/

Patron Request: Museum Impressions, John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum

Added to Medium, November 29, 2018

For this month’s patron request, I am going to give my impressions about John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. In previous patron requests, I wrote about museums I have visited during my childhood. This time I have written about a museum I visited while I was in college and my cousin was visiting from Italy, and she wanted to see places and museums in the Boston and Cape Cod area during her visit. If you would like to learn more about Patreon and make your own requests please visit my Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/lindseysteward .

Growing up I went to Hyannis with my sisters to visit our maternal grandparents in the town of Centerville. My sisters, my cousins, and I would spend time at our grandparents’ house playing dress up in our grandmother’s old clothing, visit the Penny Store to buy candy, and went to the beach to feed seagulls. At least one of the times we drove around Hyannis, we passed by the beach area where the Kennedys sailed their boat. It was not until I was in college that I knew of and was able to visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. I remember walking through the exhibits and seeing the legacy that Kennedy had left behind especially in Hyannis.

It has been a while since I havevisited the museum, and I decided to explore their website to see what theyhave been up to since I was there. A number of exhibits were placed in themuseum over the years and a couple of current exhibits are Robert F. Kennedy: Ripple of Hope and Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe. The Robert F. Kennedy: Ripple of Hope exhibit, that is assembled incollaboration with RFK Human Rights Foundation, highlights an impromptu speechhe gave before a large group of distraught onlookers the night Martin LutherKing, Jr. was assassinated in April 1968 just weeks after Kennedy announced hisbid for the presidency. The Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe exhibit features intimate,behind-the-scenes images of John F. Kennedy, his wife, Jacqueline, and theirchildren, Caroline and John, taken by Kennedy’s personal photographer. Inaddition to the exhibits, the Museum offers a number of educational programsespecially for children. 

The Museum’s education programs teach students from preschool through high school the value of civic engagement by beginning with President Kennedy’s legacy and then organize age-appropriate experiences, infused with critical thinking skills, a key tenet of civic engagement, into the lessons. In the preschool program, preschoolers from Cape Cod Child Development Program/Head Start have learned the importance of family and community. Early elementary students participated in lessons with a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) theme. Fourth and fifth graders have learned to “use their voice” in their lessons to communicate with local, state, and national officials. Meanwhile, middle school students learn how the Constitution impacts the presidency, through both the election process and the president’s responsibilities. High school students participate in the Federal Budget Simulation, working in collaborative groups to organize and defend their funding of the fourteen discretionary accounts in the federal budget. There are other programs that are outside of the school programs offerings.

For instance, the Museum has the Art Curator Program and Camp Kennedy. TheArt Curator Program, with four participating high schools, allows students toshowcase their knowledge of President Kennedy’s legacy through art, with piecesthat they create and then showcase in an exhibition. Camp Kennedy, which isheld in the summer, is a one day camp open to students who will begin grades 2,3, and 4 designed to engage the youth of our country in exploring Kennedy’slegacy of leadership. The lessons in the camp help campers develop criticalthinking skills, civic engagement, and science, technology, engineering,mathematics and art (STEAM). John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum offers a variety ofpublic programs that are relevant to the mission and Kennedy’s legacy.

Museum programs at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum include lectures, screenings, book signings, receptions, live webcast viewings, family events and exhibit openings. A few examples of upcoming events include “JFK and the Cold War: Video Presentation of speaker Dr. Sergei Khrushchev” which is a screening and discussion of the Video Presentation of speaker Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, son of former soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, discussing JFK’s and Khrushchev’s relationship, and challenges of the cold war and their relevance to today. Another example is “Brian Murphy, Author of Adrift: Lecture and Book Signing” which is a lecture and book signing event with Washington Post Journalist and author Brian Murphy who will discuss about and sign copies of his new book Adrift: A True Story of Tragedy on the Icy Atlantic and the One Who Lived to Tell about It. The next example is “The Cahoons and the Kennedys: Discussion” which discusses the Cape Cod folk artists, Ralph and Martha Cahoon and the Kennedys’ interest in collecting their works. The Museum is also working on an expansion project to create more space in the museum for its programming.

The renovation project includes construction of a 50-seat state-of-the-art auditorium and media room with a 100 seat community room and configurable tables and chairs that will support Museum-wide programming. On their website, they ask for donations that will support the transformation of the Museum’s antiquated lower level, contemporary educational curricula, advanced media capabilities, and collection and artifact growth. By accomplishing the previously listed goals for the renovation, the Museum is working to create a modern venue where they can better serve the community and continue their work to inspire active and informed civic engagement thereby ensuring the JFK legacy, and the Museum, remain relevant and sustainable for generations to come. There has been a lot of changes since I last visited the museum, and I hope this museum continues to move forward in educating visitors about civic engagement and Kennedy’s legacy.

What are your impressions of the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum?

John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum: https://jfkhyannismuseum.org/

Patron Request: Museum Impressions, Salem Witch Museum

Added to Medium, October 4, 2018

In honor of the month of Halloween and this month’s patron request, I am going to give my impressions about the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. This museum is another one of the museums I have visited during my childhood but my memory of this experience is limited because I did not see a whole lot of the place at the time. I did visit the museum years later with the Historical Society club at Western New England College (now University). In addition to these memories, I will also give my impressions of the Salem Witch Museum based on what I observe on their website to see how much has changed since I visited.

When I first made the visit to the Salem Witch Museum, it was in the 1990s and I was with my parents and my sisters. We waited in the lobby of the museum until the group we were in was able to sit in the auditorium to learn about the Salem Witch Trials. As my family waited for our turn, I remember looking through the brochures and saw pictures of the statues depicting the townsfolk. I was scared since in my imagination I thought that the creepy statues were going to move around in the dark room. Once our group was able to go in after the previous group left, I did not want to go in so one of my parents went into the gift shop with me until the rest of the family joined us. It was not until I was in college when I returned to the Salem Witch Museum.

The Historical Society club I was a member and treasurer of decided to visit the town of Salem during one of our day trips we typically go on a couple times a year. When I finally went inside of the Salem Witch Museum’s auditorium, I felt silly that I was scared of the statues since it turned out that they were only statues as a recording tells the history of the Salem Witch Trials while lights were used to give spotlights for the stationary statues. After the presentation, we went into the exhibit that shared the history of Wicca and the depiction of witches over the centuries. Then we visited the gift shop before we left to see more of Salem. Our advisor who was also one of my History professors expressed his concerns that the recording used outdated information and the Witch Trials overshadowing other significant narrative in Salem’s history especially Salem’s maritime history. While he did express his concerns, we did visit a couple of places that were related to the Salem Witch Trials such as the memorial to those who were killed and the Witch House where one of the judges who tried a number of court cases during that period. We made visits to other places in Salem in addition to the Salem Witch Museum and places related to the 1692 Salem Witch Trails.

There are many places we visited in Salem as a group which are easily overlooked because of the popularity of the Salem Witch Trials. For instance, we visited the Salem Maritime National Historic Sites where a number of historic buildings, wharves, and a replica tallship tell stories about how Salem residents helped build the foundation for one of the most powerful national economies. Another example of places we visited is the House of Seven Gables is a house built for Captain John Turner and remained within the family for three generations, and was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The House of Seven Gables published in 1851. It has been a long time since I visited the town of Salem, and now I look at the website for the first time in years and I am impressed.

On their “History/Education” page of the website, there is a section on witch hunts that gives varying examples of witch hunts throughout history and modern history. An equation is presented at the top of the page that reads out “Fear+Trigger=Scapegoat”; in other words, it means that when fear is triggered a scapegoat is used to express one’s fear that causes harm to individuals treated as scapegoats. During the Salem Witch Trails, it was the fear of the devil that was triggered by the community which led to many innocent people to be tried and killed for being witches. A modern history example listed on the page is the fear of infection which was triggered by AIDS and unfortunately the gay community was used as a scapegoat for the AIDS epidemic. The page allows visitors to submit their own examples, and I think it is an interesting way to illustrate how the Salem Witch Trails have occurred.

The website also provides a self-guided tour page that allows visitors to see locations around Essex County and a few key sites in and around Boston that are related to the events of 1692 Salem Witch Trials. Individuals can click on the town and city names on the map or on the left side of the page to not only see pictures but to read about the sites in these locations. There are descriptions of the sites from the witchcraft trials which can still be seen today, including original houses, foundations, grave sites, and sites marked by historic markers. If one is interested in learning about witches and maritime history, I recommend visiting Salem when one has the opportunity.

Also, if you would like to learn more about Patreon and make your own requests please visit my Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/lindseysteward

Announcement: Next week will be my 100th blog post so stay tuned for a special blog post!

Resources:
https://salemwitchmuseum.com/
https://www.nps.gov/sama/index.htm
https://7gables.org/

 

Patron Request: Museum Impressions, Abigail Adams Birthplace

Added to Medium, September 13, 2018

This post is made possible by the contribution from Patreon, a membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service as well as ways for artists and writers to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to patrons. Is there a museum you would like me to write about? Do you want to talk about a book you are currently reading? Head over to my Patreon page to find out how you can support the website and blog.

After writing about my impressions of Plimoth Plantation, I was asked to write about my impressions about another museum I have visited during my childhood. I visited the historic house, the Abigail Adams Birthplace, while I was a teenager. The Abigail Adams Birthplace is owned by the Abigail Adams Historical Society in North Weymouth, Massachusetts. She was also the wife of the second President of the United States, John Adams, and the mother of the sixth President, John Quincy Adams. This visit was one of the significant visit to museums while I was growing up because it proved to me that my passion for history and museums is not a phase I would move on from; it would become a lifelong passion.

In my post about Plimoth Plantation, I pointed out that my passion for history and museums began with visits to museums like Plimoth Plantation. The living history museum was not the only museum I visited during my childhood. A lot of the museums I visited were with my family and with school field trips. When I went with my family, we used library passes for free or reduced admission to museums. There was an example of a visit to a museum that we happened to come across.

My mother, sisters, and I were driving through Weymouth to meet with family who lived in the area. On our way to a family gathering, my mother and I discovered the Abigail Adams Birthplace and because there was no parking lot we immediately pulled over to take a quick tour of the house. My sisters at the time were not as keen to see it so they decided to stay in the car. I remember there were a lot of trees surrounding the house and a small sign that indicated it was the birthplace of Abigail Adams. I remember thinking that we were lucky the house was open and that we were allowed to take a tour of the house. One of the guides told us the history of the house, and my mother and I soaked up the information we were given. We did not realize how much time had passed until my sisters eventually decided to come into the house. All of us did not stay for too long since we still needed to reach our family’s house for our family gathering. Since my visit there, I explored the website to see what the Birthplace is like today.

Other than the exterior of the Birthplace is painted differently than what I remembered, I discovered that the property surrounding the Birthplace did not change too much since I last visited the place. There were still a number of trees surrounding the house and a cemetery next to the house. It has been years since I visited the place so I do not know how much of the interior has changed. Based on the few pictures I came across, the interior seemed to be even more wonderful than I remembered. The pieces of furniture and various objects reflected the time period Abigail Adams lived in the house, and still gives me the sense of nostalgia I felt when I explored the house and other museums for the first time. This sense of nostalgia is combined with the knowledge I gained on history and public history, and I see the potential of the Birthplace and appreciate the Abigail Adams Historical Society’s efforts as it moves forward to preserve the home and maintain its relevance in the 21st century. When I explored the website, I was happy to see information and resources provided to capture visitors’ interest in Abigail Adams and the house she grew up in.

In addition to the biography of Abigail Adams, there are quotes from the letters she wrote to her husband John Adams. Also, there is also an archives of news related to the Abigail Adams Birthplace from the renovation work in 2012 to the 200th commemoration of Abigail Adams’ death that will take place on October 28, 2018. The website also gives a brief history of the Birthplace from when it was built in 1685 to its renovation in 1947 when the Abigail Adams Historical Society took ownership of the property. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a modern renovation on the Birthplace which was made possible by the Weymouth Community Preservation Committee grant, and the website included a video and a slideshow of the modern renovation process.

With this modern renovation, it opens up to the opportunities of more year round programming. I think that it is great the renovation took place since when I visited the Birthplace I was lucky that the house happened to be open on that day and I do not remember if the guides gave us information on when their open hours are for a future visit.

I hope that as they move forward in providing more programming, there would be information about field trips and provide more resources. The Abigail Adams Historical Society seems to be going in that direction because there are pages available to provide this information but they are left blank. They also engage with audiences on their Facebook page promoting their programs as well as sharing programs of their colleagues in other historical societies.

The Abigail Adams Birthplace website revealed that their open hours are typically on the weekends from 1pm to 4pm. It is five dollars per adult and one dollar for children under twelve years old. Private tours are also available and need to be planned two weeks in advance.

There is so much potential in this Birthplace, and based on what I see so far Abigail Adams’ childhood home is on its way to preserving its relevance in the 21st century.
If you can, please see this house for yourselves!
Resources:
http://www.abigailadamsbirthplace.com/

Patreon Request: Museum Impressions, Plimoth Plantation

Added to Medium, April 12, 2018

When individuals contribute to my Patreon page, there is an opportunity to send me requests for what one wants me to write about. My most recent patron has requested I write about my impressions on a museum I have visited during my childhood. I visited many museums as a child but I chose Plimoth Plantation because it was one of the earliest museums I went to that inspired my love for museums.

Plimoth Plantation, located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, started in 1947 by a young archaeologist named Henry Hornblower II with help and support from friends, family and business associates. It started with two English cottages and a fort on Plymouth’s historic waterfront, and since then the Museum has grown to include the Mayflower II, the English Village, the Wampanoag Homesite, the Hornblower Visitor Center, the Craft Center, the Maxwell and Nye Barns and the Plimoth Grist Mill. This living history museum offers personal encounters with history built on thorough research about the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community in the 1600s.

Today, Plimoth Plantation provides an engaging and experiential indoor and outdoor learning environment on its main campus, at the State Pier on Plymouth’s waterfront, and at the Plimoth Grist Mill on Town Brook. It has permanent exhibits tell the complex and interwoven stories of two distinct cultures, the English and Native American.

I have mixed feelings about Plimoth Plantation because of the nostalgic feelings I have towards the museum as well as admire the concept of living history interpreters engaging with visitors. At the same time, as a museum professional, I am concerned about the situation surrounding the museum’s staff policies. Visitors should have an immersive experience without its quality being hindered. I hope Plimoth Plantation figures out how to resolve the issues that the museum’s staff brought to their attention so the museum can have an appropriate work environment and by extension improve the visitor experience. When I recently visited their website, I not only noticed features that I did not participate in while I was growing up but I thought were interesting.

I personally have not been to Plimoth Plantation in recent years but I decided to take a look at their website to see what the living history center has to currently offer. One of the things I noticed, for instance, was the virtual field trips they offer on their website. On the Virtual Field Trips page, it includes two videos that provides virtual experiences of traveling through the English Village and the Wampanoag Homesite. Also, there is a web activity that gives opportunities for participants to become history detectives, and figure out what really happened at the First Thanksgiving. I liked that there are opportunities for individuals not located close enough to physically to see what Plimoth Plantation has to offer. It serves as a great introduction to Plimoth Plantation whether or not one is close enough to travel to the museum. My experience visiting Plimoth Plantation was a different one especially when I was a child.

My first experience visiting Plimoth Plantation was when I came with my sisters, mother, and my maternal grandmother. I remember walking through the Village and meeting other visitors in the meeting house. Later I saw some pictures from that visit, and each of the pictures showed my sisters and I having an opportunity to use the broom to sweep one of the houses. Another picture I saw was of myself appearing to be giving a lecture which reminded me of the story my mother told me: I pretended to be a minister and encouraged visitors to sit down and participate in the mock service, and then I greeted each individual with handshakes. I went back a number of times during my childhood and then visited as a young adult.

Years later during college I visited Plimoth Plantation with the Historical Society club. As the treasurer on the executive board of the Historical Society, I planned the financial aspects of the trip. Once all the details were settled, all of the Historical Society members and other college students interested in attending drove to Plymouth.

As I learned more about the museum field during college and graduate school, I became more aware of how museums are run. Since I wrote a few blog posts about current conditions of the workforce in the museum field, I am glad that the museum staff members are pointing out the unfair work conditions and they want things to change. Our field is working towards improving conditions but we do have a long way to go. Plimoth Plantation is an example of our need to work harder towards better working conditions for all museum professionals.

I came across an article from the Boston Globe written by Robert Knox last month called “Plimoth Plantation and its ‘Pilgrims’ at odds” about Plimoth Plantation and its current relationship with its living history interpreters. In the article, Knox stated that union members were driven to create a union due to the persistent understaffing, low pay, and deteriorating working conditions and their consequences for visitors’ experience and safety. Knox also provided background information about the stories of what the staff had to face which led to the formation of the union. Negotiations began last year with meetings twice a month, but instead of seeking compromise and consensus the museum hired a high-powered law firm to handle the negotiations rather than giving workers modest raises.

Situations like what is happening at Plimoth Plantation is part of the discussion of why there are many museum professionals leaving the field and we should continue to work towards making our working conditions better for all of our museum professionals. It makes me sad that one of the museums I have visited during my childhood has gone down this road, and I hope things improve especially for the museum workers so we all can focus on creating engaging visitor experiences.

Have you visited Plimoth Plantation? If you have, what was your experience like? What were your impressions?

Would you like to make a request? Do you want me to write about my impressions of a specific museum(s)? I have a Patreon page where you can sign up for monthly support, and you can have your requests added to the blog. The link can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/lindseysteward

Resources:
https://www.plimoth.org/
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/south/2018/03/23/plimoth-plantation-and-its-pilgrims-odds/iG7mDoQ2W2wd7JHkbYhlsL/story.html
https://www.plimoth.org/learn/just-kids/virtual-field-trip

UPDATE: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Originally posted on Medium, April 25, 2017. 

As promised, I am giving you all an update on the response to the exhibit I created and discussed about in the blog entry Looking Back, Moving Forward: How to Create an Exhibit on Limited Resources. I created an exhibit for Trinity Church in Wrentham displaying the Church’s over 150-year history with the Easter theme; the exhibit has photographs and objects related to the Easter season. Also, I included photographs of the exhibit in the blog post. You can find the original blog post here: https://medium.com/@steward.lindsey/looking-back-moving-forward-how-to-create-an-exhibit-on-limited-resources-f99d2f3e56f6. It was decided that the exhibit will be displayed throughout the Easter season.

After the exhibit was completed, parishioners who attended the Good Friday service could see the exhibit for the first time. The rector made an announcement during the service, and in the next couple of services, that I had created the exhibit and is available to be seen in the Parish Hall. Parishioners gathered around the exhibit to thoroughly read the exhibit labels as well as look at the pieces. They enjoyed learning about Trinity’s history and appreciated the efforts put into the exhibit. A few comments included it is evident that I had put a lot of time and effort into the exhibit.

One of the common comments stated that they were surprised with how many people have been in Trinity’s choir. The comment was referencing a photograph I chose to include in the exhibit. I included a picture of a boy choir that was taken outside in 1909. While it does not indicate when in 1909 the photograph was taken, it is supposed to epitomize a depiction of Trinity parishioners 46 years after Trinity Church’s first year as a parish.

This reaction to the exhibit tells me that they appreciate the exhibit and enjoy learning about their church’s history. It is also gives me further encouragement to create another exhibit to display Trinity Church’s collections.

What Museums Mean to Me: My Relationship with Museums when I was a College Student

Originally posted on Medium. November 17, 2016.

In my first blog post, I wrote about how my love for museums has begun as a child and I will share how this love has continued since then. Recently I read the latest edition of Journal of Museum Education in which the articles focused on the relationship between museums and universities, and how that relationship can be improved. In an article written by the guest editors Beth Maloney and Matt D. Hill, they briefly discussed the articles in the journal and expressed hope that this journal will be able to be used as a source for successful collaborations. As I read this edition, I thought about my own experiences in museums as a college student, and I believe there is potential in creating more successful collaborations with colleges and universities. My career in museums began when I was in college; I was involved in Western New England College’s (now University) Historical Society as both a member and treasurer. Also, I went on a couple of trips to museums for one of my courses. Of course, I gained more experiences in museums as a graduate student at Central Connecticut State University.

While I was a college student at Western New England College, I was the treasurer of the Historical Society which is a club that encouraged visitations to various museums in the area and in neighboring states. I volunteered to be a treasurer for the Historical Society when no one else wanted to take over since the last treasurer left the organization and because I was also a treasurer for Western New England’s Campus Chorus so I already had the experience; I was then given the previous slips and forms to reorganize the organization’s budget, and since then I was re-elected as treasurer each year it was not until a few months before I graduated from college that someone was willing to take on the role. As a treasurer, I was responsible for organizing and maintaining the club’s budget for various materials such as pens and t-shirt as well as expenses including hotels, museum fees, and food for Historical Society trips. We planned trips to various museums including Springfield Museums, Old Sturbridge Village, The Pequot Museum, The Salem Witch Museum, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, The House of Seven Gables, and The Breakers Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. I also planned the trip to a couple of places in New York including Hyde Park and Martin van Buren’s home with the Historical Society. During the four years I was both a member and treasurer of the Historical Society, I went to various museums in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. This experience not only taught me about running an organization whether it was a college organization or behind the scenes look at how a museum is run but it also was a source of many wonderful college memories I look back fondly on.

I attended museums while I was taking courses at Western New England, but unfortunately there were not many opportunities for going to museums in many of my classes and I was a History major. Much of my History courses at the time were taken in the classroom with limited possibilities for exploring museums; my freshman seminar course gave an overview on possible career paths we could take as History majors and invited professionals (also WNE alumni) to discuss their work outside college, and a few of them were museum professionals. While my History courses had guest speakers come into the classroom, a few of my other courses could have a couple of visits to museums. In my art history course, I was able to visit the Springfield Museums to complete an assignment. My France and French Caribbean culture course also had class at the Springfield Museums where we visited art galleries featuring French artists and had discussions about the artists and their works. After I graduated from Western New England, I continued to visit museums and became more involved with museums.

While I was in the graduate program at Central Connecticut State University, I continued to visit museums and this time my visits were more focused on developing my career in the museum field. I started my museum experience by having an internship at Connecticut’s Old State House during the summer where I assisted with one of the last school programs of the school year where over a hundred students participated in various activities including an I Spy activity which kids designed their own spy glasses using paper towel rolls and walked around the Old State House playing I Spy. Also, I assisted with public programs including the Farmer’s Market, and Conversations at Noon (lunchtime lecture series with guest lecturers presenting in the Old State House gallery). I also created an Animal Scavenger Hunt as a summer activity for kids to find pictures of animals in the Education Center based on clues I wrote. In many courses I took while in graduate school, my classmates and I were encouraged to complete projects and we collaborated with museums and organizations to gain exposure for our collaborations. For instance, for my Museum Interpretation course we were split into small groups to write a proposal for an exhibit that will be featured at the Connecticut Historical Society; my group’s proposal we collaborated on writing, about the split between in and outside the kitchen and featured a few pieces from their collections in our presentation, was approved by the decision committee at CHS with some changes suggested. We then collaborated with University of Connecticut art students to design the exhibit. This exhibit became Cooking by the Book: Amelia Simmons to Martha Stewart and it was opened from January 18 to April 13, 2013. During graduate school, we were also encouraged to attend conferences. I attended a few New England Museum Association conferences which were held in various cities in the area and have various opportunities to have sessions and ceremonies at museums. I continue to attend museums even as a museum professional to enjoy the exhibits and to continue developing my skills as a museum educator.

I am thankful for each of the opportunities that I gained and I hope that wherever I end up I will be able to take the lessons with me. We should be able to develop a better relationship with universities, and show them that we have resources they can use in teaching in the classroom and aid in their students’ career paths. Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving everyone!