The Anne of Green Gables Museum

If you’re an Anne-with-an-E fan, then of course, Green Gables is the number one place on your list to visit. But if you’re a Lucy Maud Montgomery fan, then you’ll definitely want to visit the Anne of Green Gables Museum. It’s a little misnamed, I think, but it makes sense that they’re pulling people in with Maud’s most famous character.

Anne-Green-Gables-Museum

Really, though, the museum honors L. M. Montgomery’s life. There, you’ll find the organ she played for many weddings, the living room where she married her husband, and the room where she stayed with family on her visits back to Prince Edward Island.

LMMontgomery-First-Editions

Inside-Anne-Green-Gables-Museum

Aunt-Emilys-China

It’s a more intimate look at her life, and I loved seeing the actual pieces of furniture and first editions and art on the wall. Before visiting PEI, I read the biography The Gift of Wings to find out more about Maud’s life. Combine that with visiting the home that is still maintained by her family connections, and I felt like I really knew her. At least, more than just as the name on the covers of my books.

Anne-Green-Gables-Silver-Bush

Another reason the Anne of Green Gables Museum was so interesting, though, is that the house itself was the inspiration¬†Silver Bush — as in Pat of Silver Bush,¬†one of the non-Anne books. In Pat of Silver Bush, we meet Pat Gardiner who loves her home more than anything, really. I love that Montgomery made homes just as much a character in books as the people. It’s something that definitely influenced me as I grew up. I knew Green Gables, New Moon, Silver Bush, the little house on Lantern Hill, the Blue Castle, just as well as I knew Anne, Emily, Pat, Jane, and Valancy. So it thrilled me to see this house.

Silver-Bush-Window

Silver-Bush-Side-Door

So definitely go to Green Gables, but I’d also recommend stopping here.

(And bonus – the Lake of Shining Waters is right across the street. Non-bonus – we didn’t get a picture of it.)

Parks, Museums, Squares, and Desserts: Just Another Day in NYC

My conference didn’t start until about 2 pm on Wednesday, so we decided to go to the Guggenheim. I was a little surprised that it was the first place Mikey mentioned that he wanted to see. He developed a love of Frank Lloyd Wright last fall on a trip to Chicago, so it makes perfect sense. Since we were staying on 79th Street in the Upper West Side, all we had to do was cross the park and walk up a few blocks to the museum. Sounds simple enough. All we had to do was follow this path.

Oh wait, we had breakfast first. Omelettes at Sarabeth’s. They were delicious. I love all the buildings in the Upper West Side with their stoops and their details and their hydrangeas.

And then we got into the park. It was still vibrant green from the rain the night before.

We came across Shakespeare’s Garden.

We wandered around some more up some paths and down some others, and then we came across Strawberry Fields. Ooops… somehow we had gotten off the direct path and went more like this:

Time to backtrack a little. This time, it took us past one of my favorite parts of Central Park, the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace.

The great thing about getting lost in Central Park is that getting lost is part of the charm of the experience. Some day, though, I’d like to know exactly where I’m going in Central Park. We eventually made it across the park and up to the Guggenheim. I told Mikey that we didn’t really need to pay to go inside because the best part was the outside and the lobby (which, coincidentally, are the only places where you can take photos), but he wanted to see the whole thing, so we did.

I actually really love the design of the Guggenheim. We rode the elevator to the top and then walked down the spiral, and it’s perfect. It doesn’t feel overwhelming and you don’t get lost. When you look over the ledge at the very top of the building, though, it is kind of surreal. I wish I could have taken a photo to better explain this, but there’s a bench and a drinking fountain in exactly the same place on each level of the spiral. So when you look down and see them all at one time, you almost feel like you’re watching a loop. It’s really cool. After we finished the loop, Mikey and I went our separate ways. He went to the Met, and I walked up to my conference at Columbia University.

Mikey and I met up again for dinner at a delicious Greek place. It was really good, despite the fact that I somehow ended up with a spider down my shirt (shiver). We decided to attempt the Top of the Rock again, so we headed back down to Midtown. This time we knew exactly where we were going. When we got there, there was a long line of people (see, it would have been so empty if we had gone in the rain), so we chose to skip the rock (and buy some tickets online for Thursday) and head to another New York City landmark, Times Square.

This place. I have such mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I really hate crowds like this. Actually, I love them for about 10 minutes, but then I really hate them. On the other hand, I really love neon lights and the electric daylight that radiates from the whole area for a few blocks down the road. I mean, even the McDonald’s is glitzy.

And it is kind of fun to watch all the people. There was a big group of them waiting for their picture to appear on a jumbo screen.

Seeing all of the billboards for different plays made me really wish we were going to one. We thought about it, but the timing was just wrong for us. To be honest, because of the conference, I didn’t have tons of spare time. Oh well… next time. But we did see a familiar face among the billboards.

Here’s where I name drop for a second. I totally know (well, knew) the person on Bette Midler’s left, Will Swenson. When I was in junior high, I used to do a play at Hale Center Theater on Sunday nights. His grandparents owned the theater and he was in the play with me for a while. I had a huge crush on his younger brother (who was also in the play). I hadn’t thought about Will in years, so I looked up what he’s been up to lately. Turns out, he’s got a pretty impressive Broadway resume. It’s nice to see people make good.

After walking around so much, it was time for dessert. I used my trusty little Urbanspoon app to pick out a little cafe on the Upper West Side near our hotel. It was called Cafe Lalo, and it was utterly charming. Plus, it had an amazing display case of delicious treats. It was so hard to choose just one.

Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel. But we didn’t go straight to sleep. We turned on the tv to relax a little, and since my little brother was in charge of the remote, we ended up watching…

some robots in disguise.

Church History Museum

Considering these two facts 1) I grew up in Utah and 2) I am Mormon, I’m a little surprised that I’ve never been to the Church History Museum. At least, that I remember. I think it’s probably because of these two reasons: 1) I’ve never been that interested in church history and 2) I’ve never really liked church-y art (with some exceptions). So the museum never had much of an appeal to me, but when I was downtown a few weeks ago, I decided to check it out.

To be honest, I still have mixed feelings about it as a museum. It tells the story of the church, but in the same way that I’ve heard all my life. I kept expecting the information placards to tell me about the artifacts or the art, but instead they told me how they fit into the history of the church. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just different from what I expect in a museum. I’m used to something more objective rather than… didactic, for lack of a better word. But the museum is actually chalk full of really interesting things and it’s got all sorts of great exhibits. Let’s take a look. First of all, here’s the facade of the museum.

I love all the carvings. I especially love that it includes the scripture, “The glory of God is intelligence. ”

The museum starts with the early beginnings of the church and tells the story of the first vision and then how Joseph Smith and his brother were killed by a mob at Carthage Jail. Here are their death masks.

And here’s the pocket watch that saved John Taylor’s life.

Then the story progresses to tell about how all the Saints gathered in Winter Quarters after being expelled from their homes in Illinois and Missouri. I loved this painting of all the wagons gathered on the other side of the Mississippi.

The next few exhibits included a lot of artifacts from their journey across the plains. I really liked this part. I loved seeing what possessions the pioneers chose to carry with them along the plains when they could take so little.

Then they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and settled it. They mapped it out in nice even squares with the Salt Lake Temple in the center (but it took 40 years to build). They built chapels and stores and came up with their own monetary system.

They had a section on temples and some of the craftsmanship that goes into them. Remember when I mentioned the amazing murals painted by Minerva Teichert at the Manti Temple? They had one of the studies she drew in preparation for it.

Speaking of Minerva Teichert… the second floor of the museum is full of art, including some paintings by Minerva Teichert. She is still one of my favorites.

I love the patterns in the dresses and the soft, muted colors.

Right now, the museum is full of entries into its Ninth Annual International Art Competition. I browsed around for a bit. I wasn’t expecting to find much that I like because of the whole not liking church-y art. I thought there’d be mostly stuff like this:

Yeah… not so much my cup of tea. And to be honest, there was a lot of art there that wasn’t really my cup of tea. But then I’d come across art like these that I really liked.

(The photo didn’t quite turn out of that one, but it’s amazing. It’s completely made of paper cuts.)

The museum also had an exhibit about each of the presidents of the church, including different objects from their life. It was really fascinating to see the past 150 or so years represented and the change in technology. Even though I went into the museum feeling a little skeptical, I actually left feeling a lot more interested in church history, especially in the first years of settling the valley. Maybe I’ll have to find a book or something. Or just go back to the museum some time.

The Dinosaur Museum

Amanda invited me to visit the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point with her and the Nicholases on Monday. When I was a rhetoric associate for an anthropology class up at Utah State, I read a paper about the Dinosaur Museum. It’s kind of amazing to me that I still remember it after six or seven years. So I wasn’t too surprised that the first room at the dinosaur museum is dedicated to physics experiments. Mike commented that it was as if they gathered all the attention-getting experiments from the first day of a Physics class before they bore them with the math. He can say stuff like that because he’s a math professor. But for someone like me who only took astronomy (and basically wrote sappy poetry about planets and stars the whole time), it was pretty fun to see science in action. And the kids liked it, too.

Then you walk through a room of tiny stars. I couldn’t get a good picture but I would like to have a room like that in my house some day. Just starry. Finally you get to start seeing dinosaur stuff.

Along with ancient sea creatures…

and flora. I loved the flora. It was so pretty and delicate.

Finally we got to the Jurassic period with all the huge dinosaurs. Has anyone ever used the word dinormous before? Can I claim that? Well, these dinosaurs were dinormous! (ok, so it’s kind of a terrible word.)

At the end of the museum, there’s a quarry where the kids can excavate their own dino bones while the parents watch on. These kids really like to dig.

The paper I read for that anthropology course (an Intro to Museum Studies class) had to evaluate the museum. I remember the student gave it pretty high marks, and I have to agree. For a science museum, that is.*

*Just kidding. Science is awesome.