Discover New York's Museums with Don WIldman 1st ed. - Page 2

How to Visit a Museum Visiting a museum is not rocket science—unless it’s a space museum—but after making a career of being a die-hard museum booster, I have some insights to share: • Think of a museum as a human place. Despite all the glass-encased objects, despite all the fancy signage, it is people who make museums. Those people are only as eager to tell their stories as you are to hear them. • Be an active museumgoer, not a passive one. Visit with deliberate purpose and intention. Do you want to know more about pterodactyls or to finally understand Cubism? Decide to learn. • Talk to the guards! Those folks stand in those galleries all day; ask them what their favorite painting is, you might be surprised. • When visiting a museum, especially for the first time, check its website for building layouts, current exhibitions and events. Prepare your spirit to be fed before the meal is served. It makes a real difference. • Museums are multifaceted—they collect, preserve, research and exhibit— but the average visitor only takes advantage of the exhibits! If you reach out to museum personnel— say, an expert in Egyptian mummies—via email (addresses are usually available on the website) they might show up to answer your questions in person. That’d be cool, right? • Wear comfortable shoes. It seems obvious...but you’ll be walking and standing a lot. Protect your soles! (Same goes for comfy clothing.) • Utilize the benches in the galleries. Sit down and allow your mind to wander. Meditation is good! • Eat in the café upon arrival; you’ll have more energy and it’ll give you a chance to finetune your visit. • Carry very little into the galleries, check everything you can. Free your hands and free your mind. 2 • Discovering New York’s Museums Greetings, fellow travelers! Thanks for joining me on my sprawling journey to New York’s amazing collection of museums. I’ve embarked – with the generous help of New York By Rail and I Love New York – on a statewide odyssey to explore the astonishing depth and breadth of this collective community, and along the way learn a few of the remarkable things it has to teach. As host of Travel Channel’s long-running Mysteries at the Museum, I have a vested interest in this realm. The show, presently in its tenth season, chronicles the heroic histories and twisted tales behind artifacts and relics displayed in galleries all over the planet. The success of this program proves that Americans—even cable television viewers—are deeply intrigued by the archived treasures found in museums. The Rockwell Museum's first conceptual Nationwide, there were 850 million visits to museums sculpture is a bronze tumbleweed by American artist Bale Creek Allen. It was last year alone! Museums are a huge part of our lives! created by taking actual Texas tumble­ As a New York resident, I’m continually floored by weed, casting it in bronze, and finishing this place—from art and culture to industry and tech, it with a dark red patina. New York State is where America first found her feet as a world power. To learn how this all happened, you’ll want to visit a museum—and New York has plenty to go around. According to the Museum Association of New York, there are more than 2,000 art, history, science and children’s museums in the state, not to mention zoos, botanical gardens and historic houses. From the Manhattan glamour of The Met to the sporting legends of Cooperstown to the rustic dignity of Grant’s In 1778, General George Washington Cottage in Saratoga Springs, museums and heritage ordered construction of an iron chain sites capture and reveal the magnificent, multi-cultural across the Hudson River at West Point to block passage of British war ships. The history and character of New York. You could spend a massive chain, made of 1,200 links of wrought iron, stretched 1,700 feet in lifetime seeing them all, and more museums would length, weighed sixty-five tons, and took be rising in your wake. I’m telling you, there’s so forty men a total of four days to install. much to see across New York State's 11 diverse See it at the Albany Institute of History vacation regions, the list is truly endless and so and Art. are the adventures that await you. There’s During magic in museums: they hold objects and experiences that will excite, WWII, challenge, and enlighten you and your family. while confined in a So, all aboard the Museum Express for a journey to new and German different states of mind right here in the State of New York. internment camp, GIs made this primitive bat from a tree limb. See it at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. –Don Wildman NY MUSEUMS BY RAIL