Any fellow museum addicts here?
I have a confession to make. I am a museum junkie.
A proud and unrepentant one.
And it all started after being scared witless. But let me go back a few years. Ahem, a lot of years now.
Once upon a time, when I was six, my family took a vacation to Salem, MA. And I never forgot it. Even though I was young, I retain vivid memories of Salem: Our view out the window of the Hawthorne Hotel, quizzing the tour guide at the House of Seven Gables, and seeing mustard seeds for the first time at the Lighthouse.
But, alas, the trip also had a dark side. The Salem Witch Museum made an extreme impression on me. Maybe it was the fact that we were ushered into a dark room and told to stand in an illuminated circle in the center. Or it could have been the first display: two red eyes gleaming in the dark accompanied by a loud voice declaring the devil exists. And possibly it was the tableau of Giles Cory being pressed to death.
Yeah, that definitely left a mental mark.
In hindsight, I’m positive that my life as a museum junkie traces straight to that vacation. I experienced a Great Awakening on that trip. One that cemented my love of old houses and left me jonesing for more historical experiences.
I was the kid on school field trips who loved visiting the state capital, Plymouth Plantation, and this place called Old Sturbridge Village (more on that in a moment).
During my college years in Washington, DC, I was in museum junkie heaven. I became an intern at not one, but two Smithsonian museums. The Museum of American History and the National Zoological Park. Yes. The experience was cool and amazing. When I graduated with bachelors’ degrees in Anthropology and Psychology, I had a lofty dream that I could work at one of my beloved museums.
I was so clueless!
The first job I applied for when I returned home laden with financial debt was at Old Sturbridge Village. After I was soundly rejected, I didn’t become too bitter even when I settled for a “real” job working for an insurance company (27 years and counting). I still have my rejection letter from OSV too. Over the years, I applied for other museum jobs and was also turned down.
Fine. I don’t have a Masters or a PHD. I get it.
So if I couldn’t get a job in an actual museum, I did the next best thing and dragged my husband, henceforth known as Scar, to OSV.
This was my special place. One that I’d been visiting since a field trip in the fourth grade.
On that first trip together, Scar strolled onto the lush town green and looked around at the lovingly preserved historic buildings. The scent of wood smoke hung in the air while the blacksmith’s hammer clanged. The water-powered mills crushed grain into flour and sawed wood into boards. Upon entering a building, costumed historians would politely greet us and provide the historical background of whatever it was they were doing.
This was my happy place and I couldn’t wait for him to love it as much as I did.
His next words remain forever etched in family lore.
“This is nice. But where’s ye olde whore house?” he joked.
My joy shriveled a bit after that. Clearly, history was lost on him. Though I do continue to tease him so I’ve gotten some mileage out of that comment.
Okay, so as it turned out, he didn’t love museums.
But there was hope. I had children. If I started young maybe one of them would fall in love too. As it turned out, one of my kids caught the museum bug! Witness my fellow museum junkie in those early years.
Over time, I purchased memberships at several museums including Old Sturbridge Village, Mystic Seaport and The Springfield Museums. I joined the last one in 2016 as a “happy birthday to me” present. Younger Son and I jointly hold these memberships which often baffles the staff who incorrectly assume we are married when sending out mailings. Um, no!
Lucky for me, Younger Son still enjoys museums as much as I do. It’s our thing. We schedule our vacation time around which museum we want to visit next. Scar and my Older Son (who hates anything with the word museum in it), grunt, go back to their respective computer screens, then wave us on our way.
See, we know the secret. We have all the fun.
Your turn to share – what places have made a lasting impression on you? Any fellow museum junkies here?