Museum Day

Also called International Museum Day, this is celebrated all over the world on May 18. Museums have been special to me since I was a child, for more than one reason.

When I was young, my family wasn’t particularly well off, and most outings we took cost us no more than the gas to get there. I couldn’t guess how many hours I spent in the Rochester, New York natural history museum. There were three floors containing old frontier type buildings and dioramas of Native Americans and other things. But my memories of those are hazy because the room I always wanted to go to was the one that showed the area when it had been under water, I suppose during the last Ice Age. There were giant sea creatures, trilobites, and undersea plants. I could stand and look at those for hours. The same thing happened when we went to the natural history museum in New York City when I was eleven. My folks wanted to see all the different floors; I just wanted to stay in the room with the dinosaurs. I suppose they must have dragged me away at some point, but I don’t remember anything else.

The other reason I’m fond of museums is that when we were in a part of the place that I didn’t care about, I wanted to just rush through and get back to something interesting. At the time, it drove me crazy that Dad stopped and looked at everything, and read every sign, and pointed things out, but what he was teaching me was to stop and learn about other things – to take my time. When I got old enough to understand, I loved him for the quiet lesson.

There are, of course, many different kinds of museums. There are history museums, science museum, art galleries, and those housing anything someone considered worthy of collecting. Celebrate today by visiting a museum. It’s bound to be interesting!

The British Museum – a favorite place

Quotes about museums

Give me a museum and I’ll fill it.–Pablo Picasso

When I was growing up, my mother would take me to plays and museums, and we’d talk about life. Those times helped shape who I became.–Jill Scott

When in a museum, walk slowly but keep walking.–Gertrude Stein

A country that has few museums is both materially poor and spiritually poor…Museums, like theaters and libraries, are a means to freedom.–Wendy Beckett

An art book is a museum without walls.–Andre Malraux

… what is important is not so much what people see in the gallery or the museum, but what people see after looking at these things, how they confront reality again. Really great art regenerates the perception of reality; the reality becomes richer, better or not, just different.–Gabriel Orozco

I don’t want to sound pretentious, but I love art, I like to go to museums, and I like to read books.–Rainn Wilson

The historical museum has to be very conservative and careful in its choices. The modern museum, on the other hand, has to be audacious, to take chances. It has to consider the probability that it would be wrong in a good many cases and take the consequences later.–Alfred H. Barr, Jr.

Museums are managers of consciousness. They give us an interpretation of history, of how to view the world and locate ourselves in it. They are, if you want to put it in positive terms, great educational institutions.–Hans Haacke

Museums should be places where you raise questions, not just show stuff.–William Thorsell

The best museums and museum exhibits about science or technology give you the feeling that, hey, this is interesting, but maybe I could do something here, too.–Paul Allen

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Museum Day

September 24 is Museum Day. Sponsored by the Smithsonian, it is a day when many museums across the U.S. are free to visit. To see if there is one near you, go to the Museum Day Live! page and enter your information.

I have always loved museums. When I was young, my parents spent hours taking me to the Rochester Museum and Science Center over and over again (which was free, way back then). When they added a planetarium, I was in heaven! I remember visiting the natural history museum in New York City when I was young. My parents had to drag me away from the dinosaur exhibit to see the other things the museum offered. A year ago or so, I spent a day in the British Museum. You could spend a week there and not see everything.

There are, of course, all kinds of museums, from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to art galleries to small, specific museums, like the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London, or Madame Tussauds wax museum or the Lego Museum. And don’t overlook local town museums with artifacts from times past in that area. Everyone is bound to find a museum somewhere to delight them.

So celebrate today by going to a museum, or perhaps watching one of the Night at the Museum movies. It’s fun and you might learn something new.

British Museum
British Museum

Quotes about museums.

Do not fall in love with people like me. I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments…–Caitlyn Siehl

Museums have no political power, but they do have the possibility of influencing the political process.–Richard Fortey

I wonder if we are seeing a return to the object in the science-based museum. Since any visitor can go to a film like Jurassic Park and see dinosaurs reawakened more graphically than any museum could emulate, maybe a museum should be the place to have an encounter with the bony truth.–Richard Fortey

Langdon had often suspected his attraction to the art world as a young boy sprang from his love of museums’ wide open spaces.–Dan Brown

There are moments when one feels a desperate gratitude for museums, whatever their own ambiguous histories. Their objects from lost cities lead us back to who we are.–Amy Davidson

To preserve the past is to save the future…–Nanette L. Avery

That’s why we have the Museum, Matty, to remind us of how we came, and why: to start fresh, and begin a new place from what we had learned and carried from the old.–Lois Lowry

Museums and art stores are also sources of pleasure and inspiration. Doubtless it will seem strange to many that the hand unaided by sight can feel action, sentiment, beauty in the cold marble; and yet it is true that I derive genuine pleasure from touching great works of art. As my finger tips trace line and curve, they discover the thought and emotion which the artist has portrayed.–Helen Keller

Museums are managers of consciousness. They give us an interpretation of history, of how to view the world and locate ourselves in it.–Hans Haacke

A society – any society – is defined as a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions: public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.–Robert Reich

Museums are good things, places to look and absorb and learn.–Alan King

Sometimes, you just have to clear your head and get out to see other things. It is very important to be nourished. I love to go to museums and galleries…–Marc Jacobs

London has fine museums, the British Library is one of the greatest library institutions in the world… It’s got everything you want, really.–David Attenborough

I’m one for rushing off to museums at the crack of dawn, eating fabulous things on terraces for lunch, and enjoying long dinners on balmy evenings.–Jane Birkin

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