Re: New-seums

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I've heard that about the Constitution Center before. In part I think it stems from building new museums for the sake of having new museums, without much other justification for it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:14 PM
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The Boston Children's Museum recently renovated and was greatly improved, but with kids I think whiz-bang interactivity is kind of the goal, so maybe you'd group this with science/nature museums.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:14 PM
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i think the national holocaust museum in D.C. does a pretty good job of it. there is some interaction, but not too much.

oh and as for the constitution center in philly, i went with a kid who absolutely loved it. the success or failure of these efforts may depend on who the audience is.


Posted by: upyernoz | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:14 PM
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Yeah, the Holocaust Museum does a good job. I'm trying to think of other history museums that do this well (I know I've seen some), but I can't think of any.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:16 PM
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The historical exhibit at the Dachau concentration camp is very well done, as is the Topgraphie des Terrors exhibit in Berlin (though I have not seen its latest incarnation). On the same theme, the Yad Vashem memorial and museum complex in Jerusalem. Maybe something about holocaust inspires curators to particular care and seriousness?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:16 PM
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There's the University of Pennsylvania Museum, but that may be too close to a science nature museum to count.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:17 PM
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The ICA in Boston, which is kind of new, is thankfully free of bullshit interactivity in the permanent collection, which is small but not-so-bad is what my runon sentence will say in the comment I'm writing now about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:19 PM
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I used to think I'm too old or too young for the interactivity museums. Too old to enjoy them myself, too young to have kids of my own to take there. Except I'm not that young any more.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:20 PM
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So Becks, did you make one of these?


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:21 PM
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Well then you'd better get crackin' on finding a nice girl so you can settle down and have some!


Posted by: eb's mother | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:21 PM
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The Musee Carnevalet, if you can read a bit of French, is a fairly good old-style museum on the history of Paris (though I think it leaves out a lot of recent history). The Museum of London is new-style and I found it really dull. The Docklands museum was more interesting, probably because it was aimed at a smaller audience that was actually interested in the redevelopment.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:23 PM
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I remember some bullshit interactivity at the ICA when I went last year, and it was bullshit because it didn't even work. (Maybe it wasn't part of the permanent collection, I don't know.) Behold our marvelous contemporary future where our marvelous touch screen doesn't detect your fingers!
The parts that were just sculptures and paintings were cool. Also a nice view of the harbor. Would you consider the giant fart picture to be whiz-bang interactive?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:23 PM
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there is some interaction, but not too much.

The cattle car strikes the right balance.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:24 PM
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I liked the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel where MLK was shot, a lot. (Just shot once or twice, though.)

They weren't too whiz-bang, though. I'm just sharing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:24 PM
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The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Actually, I went to a tiny little museum in Abilene, KS, the last time I drove to the West Coast, the Museum of Independent Telephony, which was really kind of a brainbender, thinking about what the telephone meant to small-town America in the first part of the 20th century. But I'm a sucker for museums, especially dusty, weird ones.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:24 PM
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Oh, and 7 is disqualified anyway because the post says non-art museums.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:25 PM
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In England I went to the Museum of Automata, which made me super happy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:28 PM
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I'm a sucker for wax museums, have been since I was a kid.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:30 PM
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With the exception of the aforementioned holocaust museums, I think it's easier to make an exceptional museum devoted to a narrow topic than to something big like "newspapers". A couple of examples I can think of:

1. The North Bridge historical monument and the associated national park, at the site of the inaugural battle of the American revolution. It succinctly conveys the details of the battle, but also puts the clash in the context of the growing tension between colonies and Crown.

2. The Paulskirche museum in Frankfurt, Germany. It takes a fairly obscure event (the 1848 provisional parliament that met in the church) and uses it to tell the story of German unification, the origins of the Kaiserreich, and the stillbirth of democracy.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:30 PM
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There's a museum of Catalan history in Barcelona that did have a fair amount of technology and the options of interactivity that I really liked quite a bit. You could listen to speeches and songs and stuff. Could be too academic for a lot of people; there was a long pamphlet with explanatory text that you could take with you through the exhibits which I appreciated. If you're interested in things like identity and regionalism and nationalism, it's great. (As of 2001.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:30 PM
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17: I ♥ automata!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:31 PM
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On the other side of the spectrum, I read somewhere that it wasn't until the late 90s that the Natural History Museum in Vienna finally got electricity.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:32 PM
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I miss the Computer Museum. That place was like Valhalla when I was a kid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:33 PM
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Apparently, I was thinking of the Vienna art history museum.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:34 PM
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23: Lots of sword fights and feasting going on?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:35 PM
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25: amidst the computers, yeah! I mean, how can you beat that, really? It was across Fort Point channel, and you'd have to sail there on a ship made of dead men's nails and also core memory.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:36 PM
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Mount Vernon and Fallingwater are OK in their own way, although one can question whether they're "museums." I haven't been there in years but the museum at Point State Park in Pittsburgh did a reasonable job with eastern frontier life/the French & Indian War.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:38 PM
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My guilty pleasure is factory tours. Love 'em! I can't resist seeing how stuff get manufactured. Extrusion, casting, cutting, stamping, kilning, blowmolding--I love it all. I envy mechanical engineers who get to tinker with this stuff.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:42 PM
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I've heard good things about the interactive exhibits at the Nat'l Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati, but I haven't been there myself. Maybe things like slavery and the Holocaust inspire curators to bring their A game.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:44 PM
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28: When I was in China I, for reasons I won't go into here, toured a number small regional power plants. We're talking coal-fired boilers fed by shovel. Pretty damn interesting, though not particularly safe.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:46 PM
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Maybe things like slavery and the Holocaust inspire curators to bring their A game.

Jesus sees a silver lining in every cloud.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:47 PM
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You were in CHINA??


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:47 PM
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The Egypt Museum in Cairo has, like, no technology whatsoever. Its got 4000 year old mummies next to 40 year old, yellowing, typed explanatory cards.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:48 PM
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28: there's a show called "How It's Made" that is three 10 minute segments per consumer object, invariably featuring stamping and conveying and featuring humans only insofar as they are a cog in the process: every spoken is from the faceless narrator. It also has ridiculous bleepy zero royalty electronic music. It is utterly, utterly compelling.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:49 PM
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32: SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!


Posted by: M/tch M/ls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:51 PM
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My guilty pleasure is factory tours.

Love these too, but the social reality of factories can really suck. At a globe factory outside Chicago, at first I was fascinated by the process and all the globes on a conveyor that snaked around the ceiling, but then it was impossible not to notice that all the nonwhites were in the grimy factory and nearly all the whites were parked on their asses behind desks in the front office.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:52 PM
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I was going to mention the museum at Dachau, but I see Knecht has already gotten there in 5.

I would add, as was apparently not apparent to some of the tourists there when I visited, that it is generally considered inappropriate to do vacation pictures of your group next to the photo display of the emaciated prisoners. It's been a good 15 years, at least, and that's still really bothering me.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:52 PM
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11: Funny--The Museum of London was the highlight of my trip, after the Tate Modern. I thought it did a great job of condensing 10000 years of history and pre-history into 3 hours.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:53 PM
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The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a fair chunk somewhat lame interactivity, but relies more on explanatory placards and posters and is pretty dang interesting, due in part to how fascinating and wide-ranging the subject turns out to be.

The Gallileo museum in Florence is entirely non-interactive and just unbelievably awesome. They have an orrery collection there that drool-inducingly fabulous, and eye-poppingly gruesome sculptures of failed pregnancies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:54 PM
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Old mines are pretty interesting. I recommend the copper one at Falun (Sweden) and the salt one at Wieliczka (Poland).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:55 PM
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Jesus sees a silver lining in every cloud.

When life gives you brutality and death, make, uh... Okay, forget that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:55 PM
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I said orrery, but I meant armillary sphere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:57 PM
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When life gives you brutality and death, make, uh...

A gin and tonic?

When I drop four cubes of ice Chimingly in a glass, and add Three goes of gin, a lemon slice, And let a ten-ounce tonic void In foaming gulps until it smothers Everything else up to the edge, I lift the lot in private pledge: He devoted his life to others.

Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:58 PM
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42: Freudian slip?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 1:59 PM
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I will further add that one of the things that made the biggest impression on me at Dachau was reading the historical progression in the newspaper pieces on display and being struck at how innocuously (maybe subtly is the better word?) it all started, with what initially seemed harmless appeals to patriotism in the face of economic downturn ("Buy German!") through to the ultimate horror. The juxtaposition of the admonishment of "Never Again" with the recognition of how easy it is for again to happen.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:00 PM
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I remember some bullshit interactivity at the ICA when I went last year, and it was bullshit because it didn't even work.

That's always the problem with interactive stuff and using technology in the galleries. It breaks or otherwise stops working and need maintenance and looks like shit in the meantime. I've never really cared for non-collections-based museums, though I can see some of the exceptions people have noted as being worthwhile. The urge to increase the number of interactive technology in the galleries of museums that do have collections, though, seems like a trend that will not be stopped, at least at the mainstream institutions.

Glad to see the positive comment on the Boston Children's Museum. I've sent it to people there.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:01 PM
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By the way, the google snippet for the Contitution Center reads:

The National Constitution Center, located on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, is the worlds only museum devoted to the US Constitution and its relevance to ...

I just don't know why no other country in the world would have a museum dedicated to the US Constitution.

I'm glad I passed up on visiting it when I was in Philadelphia recently.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:02 PM
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43: Where's that from? Ephesians? Corinthians?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:04 PM
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A gin and tonic?

Oh, of course. I don't know what came over me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:04 PM
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The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a fair chunk somewhat lame interactivity, but relies more on explanatory placards and posters and is pretty dang interesting, due in part to how fascinating and wide-ranging the subject turns out to be.

You gotta give it up for scrimshaw.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:04 PM
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You gotta give it up for scrimshaw.

Whales gotta give it up, anyway. Poor whales.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:06 PM
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When I was in China I, for reasons I won't go into here,

Give us a hint!!

Where you wearing one of those new suits that Phelps is promoting?!????!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:07 PM
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Poor whales.

The NBWM has a whale skeleton hanging from the lobby ceiling (or at least it used to, I haven't been in seven years, it may have been moved.) Pretty awesome.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:09 PM
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Give us a hint!!

Does not have funnel cakes.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:12 PM
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so a place with no baking soda.....let me think.

Is m/tch's real name Anthony Bourdain??!?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:15 PM
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53: There's a museum in Edinburgh that has a hanging whale skeleton from a whale that washed up dead on a beach, I think. Indeed pretty awesome.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:16 PM
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55: Nope, Bourdain's a smug asshole.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:18 PM
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My best learning experience in a museum was at the university of Kostenai, Kazakhstan, becaue it gave a fview of how the locals thought of themselves. Dioramas, paintings, and wax models of Russian settlers arriving in covered wagons, trading with and also pointing guns at the wax nomadic peoples of the region, whose skin was unnaturally red. A few yurts/teepees of those folk, and similarly familiar artifacts. Farming implements from the noble taming of the priaire and planting of wheat in an inhospitable environment. Stuffed animals that look rather like bison. A tribute to the coming of the railroad, adnthe extinction of local peoples and large game that inevitably follwoed. Ninetteneth century rifles and pistols. Ninettenth century newspapers, books, and very warm wool sweaters. Even the inevitable tribute to the settlers' ethnic diversity, with a menorah, random documents in German and Turkish, and some Chinese calligraphy. Except for the captions being in Cyrillic, it could have been a regional museum in South Dakota around 1975.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:22 PM
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57:

exactly.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:23 PM
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i kid.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:24 PM
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53: Wow, I remember that from when I was a kid. Totally impressive. In a similar vein, the High Desert Museum outside of Bend has an excavated sagebrush plant hanging from the ceiling, with the entire root mass plated in metal (maybe silver, I can't recall).


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:24 PM
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I enjoyed the video presentation that goes along with the The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch at the Rijksmusem. Over at the low-tech end, the trolley museum in Silver Spring is fine for kids of a certain age, and the Museum of the Rockies is good for elementary schoolers.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:25 PM
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The Lewis & Clark Museum in Great Falls, Montana is excellent. It's relatively newish (for a museum), has some interactivity stuff, but focuses more on showing you what life was like for members of the expedition, their tools, methods for survival, etc. I was there about seven years ago and it has always stood out in my mind as a very above average museum experience.


Posted by: JDS | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:26 PM
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There's mixed-media, which can work pretty well, documents and ship pieces and dioramas all together,
and there's "interactive" which is an utter failure always if it's electronic (thus cheap and designable by the minimally skilled) and often really cool but expensive to maintain if it's mechanical. Computer-controlled mechanical stuff takes more thought, and I've seen it done well maybe twice. Why would you go to a building for interactive electronics?

I would drive hundreds of miles to see windows made. Are there any glassworks in the US that give tours?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:32 PM
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Are there any glassworks in the US that give tours?

They don't make windows, but Blenko Glass lets you see glass being blown into vases and what-not.



Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:47 PM
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LW, if you really must see glass being rolled into windows, Flachglas AG in Bavaria invites visitors to tour the factory.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:49 PM
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That's my hobby. Support your local glassblowers. I want to see the very large tanks and the long sheet of glass gradually cooling. A method no longer used was to float the glass on molten iron. I don't know how the stiffening sheet was pulled or pushed at a constant rate.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:53 PM
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Are there any glassworks in the US that give tours?

IIRC, the Corning Glass Museum puts on some sort of factory tour in the Steuben glassworks.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:53 PM
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66: That's much more than a few hundred miles, and I wouldn't recommend trying to drive there either.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:54 PM
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Huh. Good to know, thanks, I may need to be in Germany in the fall.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:54 PM
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Steuben isn't window glass either, I suppose. I think Pella does a factory tour, but I'm not sure that's the factory where the glass gets produced.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:54 PM
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67: Are they not making float glass any more? What replaced it?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:56 PM
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I can eat glass, it doesn't hurt me.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 2:59 PM
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I think electric, where the glass is heated by passing a current through it. Not sure, though. I heard that it was not possible to get either a perfectly smooth surface (the slightly rippled look of prewar windows) or an extremely thin sheet with float, though this is word-of-mouth from an older glassblower. I don't know of anyone in, or any literature from, the world of engineers who design the machines that make bottles and other 3-piece mold objects. Those must be some processes that are hell to tune up.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 3:03 PM
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A method no longer used was to float the glass on molten iron.

Another was to float the molten glass on a bed of mercury. There are several nice Superfund sites that got their start this way.

I may need to be in Germany in the fall.

Unfortunately, that factory is in the middle of fucking nowhere, convenient to nothing except an endless supply of high quality quartz sand.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 3:16 PM
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58: There is (or maybe was) a preserved ancient Viking village in Norway that completely explained the urge to go abroad, see the sights, and kill anyone who annoyed you.

I can't imagine survivng a long winter in one of those little dark huts without going start raving bonkers.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 4:35 PM
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Reading suggests that there were many attempts to make float glass (including on molten iron and on mercury) that were all msotly unsuccessful. In the 1950s, Pilkington finally got it working using molten tin and various bits of cleverness, and that is the method still in use.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 4:43 PM
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Oh, I completely forgot. Skansen - open-air Swedish museum in the middle of Stockholm - is awesome.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 4:43 PM
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It may seem perverse tp spend $$ on a museum in DC, but we found the International Spy Museum to be surprisingly good, with some decent interactive exhibits (I liked the aerial photograph interpetation one best.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 4:46 PM
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Not museums per se, but I have never been disappointed in any mine tour I have ever gone on.
There used to be a good zinc mine one in northern New Jersey, Franklin?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 4:48 PM
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I have been informed, to follow up a bit more on 2, that the Boston Children's Museum makes a point of emphasizing interactive exhibits and features that are not based on electronic technology, the idea being to offer kids real stuff to play with. I did know, but didn't mention, the additional fact that it is one of the few children's museums in the U.S. (three, to be precise) to actually have and display objects as part of a permanent collection.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 5:44 PM
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There is (or maybe was) a preserved ancient Viking village in Norway that completely explained the urge to go abroad, see the sights, and kill anyone who annoyed you.

I've been to something like that! In Bergen. There was this one tiny little boxlike hut-type-dwelling that really confused me because it was covered with this really intricate carving all over the interior. I was staring at it thinking "Tiny little horrible hut=poor. Wildly labor-intensive ornamentation=rich. What gives?"

So I asked a guide, who looked at me like I was stupid and said "It was dark for six months every year." And I thought for a bit about it, and pictured Joe Viking Peasant getting bored in October and carving his intials on the mantlepiece, and then an ornamental border around them, and then... until suddenly it's April and his hut looks like it's been attacked by cuckoo clocks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 6:39 PM
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This is fascinating for me to read, since I work at a collections-based science museum, and we're in the middle of building a new wing. We break ground on Earth Day.

Has anyone seen the Native American Museum in Washington? The designers we're working with also did that one, and I've never seen it. I've heard mixed reviews from coworkers on the content and layout.

Thanks for the market research survey, Becks! I didn't even have to send in an Ask the Mineshaft.

If I were to describe some of the features of the new wing, would you all give me feedback? I'm a small cog in the wheel and don't have any real say as to how the new wing will turn out, but I'd be interested to know your opinions on some of the plans.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 7:41 PM
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Yay! Feedback! Before you say anything, interactive things involving simple machines=good; touchscreens=bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 7:48 PM
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84: interactive things involving simple machines=good

Yeah, Like big rocks to hammer on stuff with.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 7:59 PM
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Thanks!

interactive things involving simple machines=good; touchscreens=bad

Right, I got that. But we'll probably have some anyway; designers love them. But this project is actually relying a lot more on video, using large plasma/lcd screens, projectors, and/or smaller screens in panels or kiosks. It's too didactic still, by most modern standards.

We want interactives because we want to get the visitors involved, but a lot of visitors just want to push a button. They often don't really care what the result means.

Let me give you the premise of the new wing:
The working title is the Nature Research Center. (We're fundraising now, and I hope to good goddamn they change the name soon. We keep meeting about it and getting nowhere.)

The idea is to present cutting edge science research and get visitors involved as citizen scientists. Help people understand what's good science vs. junk science, how science works (at least among the natural sciences, which is what our research department specializes in), how we use science in our daily lives, why collections are important, etc. We're partnering with UNC and other universities & RTP companies to bring in researchers for educational programs and lab activities.

The building is four stories. It will include a large projection theatre in the shape of a sphere spanning all four floors. We're calling this the Daily Planet and it will showcase everything from orientation programs to lectures from scientists to ambient nature scenes for special events.

On the first floor are intro exhibits (still being imagined and debated), a cafe, and a store. On the second and third floors are exhibits and labs. There are three working research labs--staff and guest researchers will use these, and visitors will be able to sometimes watch them and speak with them. There will be three to four visitor labs where visitors can learn techniques and do some actual research (data gathering, for the most part, but probably there'll be some "canned" activities too). Some of this is social research, being watched by evaluators to see if and how it will work.

Fourth floor is a conference center. There will also be a public radio station in there somewhere, a parking deck on the block, offices for museum staff and other government workers, and maybe a rooftop garden. Whew!


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:14 PM
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Help people understand what's good science vs. junk science

Good luck with that. For a museum to compensate for the systemic failures of primary and secondary education is an ambitious mission indeed.

In all seriousness, I could imagine translating some of the classic lessons of How to Lie with Statistics into science museum-style pedagogy. To keep it interesting, you would have to structure the exhibit in such a way that the visitors first see some superficially persuasive evidence, but then they have the blinders lifted from their eyes and see how the statistics have suckered them.

It would also be great if you could find a way to convey (1) the concept of a controlled experiment; (2) the difference between correlation and causation (with a nod to multicollinearity).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:39 PM
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What I'm hearing in this thread is that museums with emotional hooks--Holocaust museum, Dachau museum, MLK museum--do well with Unfoggedites.

Also museums that focus on one specialized area of knowledge--gadgets, spies, Vikings, scrimshaw. Museums we saw as kids and whales also rate mention.

We have whales in our current facility--several hang in the coastal hall. But should we have more in the new wing? We've done whales to death. Unless we haven't. That's the kind of conversations we're having right now.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:40 PM
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What I'm hearing in this thread is that museums with emotional hooks

Uh, no, I don't think it's the emotional hook that appealed to the commenters in this thread. It's the fact that the exhibits were objectively well-conceived. I've seen others with powerful emotional hooks that were rubbish, for example, the old DDR-era exhibit at Buchenwald.

OTOH, the unfoggedariat is hardly representative of what will play in Peoria.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:47 PM
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The whale museum and the scrimshaw museum are the same museum! It also has cool paintings and histories of Cape Verdean whaleships and a 3/5th size whale boat. It has added a second whale skeleton since the upthread commenters were there. It is an excellent museum.

You know what interactive thing rules? Those contour maps where various features light up when you press buttons. Those are rad.

I also sort of like quizzes you can win, because I like winning, even if they're touchscreen.

The Gallileo museum (technically Museum of the History of Science, I believe) is just incredibly awesome, but I wouldn't imagine you could replicate than without just an unbelievably rich one-of-a-kind collection, so either that's a bad model or you should just pull a truck up to the front door of the original in Florence and five-finger it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:49 PM
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That Florence museum is the one with all the old contraptions? I remember thinking both that it was awesome, but that it would be even more awesome if I understood more of it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 8:58 PM
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91: the contraptions, yes. Yeah they had an unfortunate habit of leaving the really cool stuff out of the english guidebook.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:07 PM
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Add another one to the 'Holocaust museums tend to be well thought out these days' list: the Ort der Information at Berlin's central Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe is incredibly well done. It has a room with photographs and maps that has telephones you can pick up and listen to further information about the pictured sites, but that's about as interactive as it gets.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:08 PM
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that's about as interactive as it gets

Yes, the Kinderspielstaette "Ich werde Einsatzkommando" with the animatronic crematorium was shelved due to PR concerns.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:16 PM
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factory tours

Ooooh, yeah. I have fond memories of the Crayola crayon factory tour, the Herr's potato chip factory tour, the Hershey chocolate tour, and yes, the Corning Glass Works tour. Unfortunately I know that at least two of these have become less hands-on and interesting due to liability concerns. Boo hiss!

To wrenae's comments, I will say that one of the more fun science exhibits I went to was something that was sort of like panning for gold, except it wasn't gold. I can't remember what they encouraged the children to be looking for -- I think it may have been crushed walnut shells. Oh wait, now I remember, it was all about erosion. So you got the fun side of getting your hands wet and shoving little piles of ground-up shells into small mountains, and then the additional fun of pulling a lever or pump and watching the "river" overflow its banks and destroy all your hard work. Parents even liked it because it wasn't actual dirt -- the shells were very easy to rinse of your hands, so it's not like you left the exhibit a mess.

The Mutter Museum gets a lot of love, especially from antsy teenagers who like gross-out exhibits. Unemployed Unfoggitarians take note: They're hiring a new director.

I also have warm memories of the Mercer Museum, which I usually recommend to woodworkers. I don't remember this alleged "fire engine suspended from the balcony" and "compete gallows," though.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:23 PM
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94: There's a part in Maxim Biller's story "Auschwitz sehen und sterben" where a group of Jewish kids on the all-the-concentration-camps tour comes up with that game pretty much on their own.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:31 PM
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Sifu and I were just talking about ways to make a Mütter Museum more interactive. Feel how heavy this bag is? That's how much extra weight you'd be carrying around if you had that impacted colon! You've seen a wax model of a toothpick in the eye, now experience it for yourself!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:38 PM
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||

Sure, the academic roller coaster is stressful. But the key is to figure out before you get your PhD who's job you're going to steal.

Blume is set.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:38 PM
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The Mutter Museum has some kind of cancerous growth removed from Grover Cleveland on two non-consecutive occasions. I should see that museum.

Maybe the oddest museum I've seen is the chamberpot museum in Munich.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:42 PM
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I should see that museum.

Bah, sorry I didn't think of it when you were here. Everybody else: Meetup in Philadelphia for the way-too-graphic-medical-exhibits tour!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:45 PM
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I'm sure I'll be in Philadelphia again at some point. Those 2000 objects extracted from people's throats probably aren't going anywhere.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 9:51 PM
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My takeaway lesson from my trip to the Mütter Museum: wow, you can get syphilis in so many more body parts than I thought.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-11-08 10:00 PM
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The Gallileo museum (technically Museum of the History of Science, I believe) is just incredibly awesome

I used to work for the Oxford equivalent [on an astrolabe project]. A place well worth a visit. That was just incredibly interesting, all the time.

If there's one thing cooler than looking at all the astrolabes and funky calculating devices, it's being able to play around with the astrolabe or funky calculating device.

I'm a bit rusty now, but at the time, I learned how to do pretty much everything with an astrolabe -- tell time, trigonometric calculations, calculate latitudes and longitudes, hours of sunset and sunrise, direction of Mecca, etc. Ancient analogue computers are very cool. The mathematics behind their construction is incredibly sophisticated, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 12:35 AM
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direction of Mecca

Careful, foreigner. They're watching.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 12:40 AM
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The whale museum and the scrimshaw museum are the same museum!

Did anyone say they were not? I may not have visited in a while, but I did work on a project for them, cataloging photographs from whaling trips to Alaska and clothes made out of reindeer hide. Which, as I think I've mentioned before, stinks to the heavens when left in a box for 100 years.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 10:07 AM
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98: UND is in Grand Forks, which is less cosmopolitan than Fargo and which was also, like New Orleans, almost destroyed by God for its lewdness. If Blume goes to Grand Forks she should avoid lewdness.

ND does have a large population of Russian Germans, and the state capital is named Bismarck (as was Bix Beiderbecke).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 10:25 AM
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105: no, you didn't. I think wrenae might have thought so.

106: whichever. I think she just relishes the chance to knock off that ABD guy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 10:35 AM
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For Blume, who is entirely too lewd, living in Grand Forks for 30 years would be a valuable discipline.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 10:46 AM
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