Friday, October 25, 2013

Museums, Museums, and What? Is This Whole Town a Museum?

We are perpetual museum-goers and in fact visited more than 80 on our last motor home trip. In three weeks  we've now visited nine: a new record already in the making.
The Maturango Museum in Ridgeport, California, a sweet little high desert natural history museum, was closed because all the volunteers were inventorying the gift shop. But that didn't stop us from enjoying the outside portion, including, metal sculptures as you see here, a sundial that told the time using the shadow of your body when you stood on the proper month, and a labyrinth. Finally we called them, explained our interest, and LO! the volunteer manager let us in a back door.

Then it was on to Palm Springs which seems like the whole town is one big museum. (Here we are with Marilyn Monroe.)We also decided it might be the gayest place in America. The banners on the main drag (pardon the pun) all proclaimed Rainbow Pride in preparation for the annual Pride Parade the first weekend in November.  Palm Springs was the hideout destination for many of Hollywood's quintessential creatives like Rock Hudson, Liberace and many more. We enjoyed a delightful little backyard cactus garden (aren't gardens museums of sorts?) and enjoyed the street art. We also had a great time with our friends Steve and Lisa who gave us a tour of the sights (and sites) and took us to dinner at a fabulous restaurant full of gay men. Unfortunately the art museum there was closed and this time no one was willing to make allowances for our bad we went on to Prescott, Arizona.

There we toured the Sharlot Hall Museum where our friend Karen Carlisle used to work. It's a delightful rambling historical museum with a great transportation component, lots of nooks and crannies to explore and the original territorial governor's mansion. It was named after Arizona's first official state historian who had the foresight to preserve the governor's mansion and a great many artifacts from pre and post settlement eras. We were delighted to enter the gift shop and encounter a whole wall of books relating to women in the west. We wondered if it was the work of our friend Karen, former co-owner of the Alaska Women's Bookstore.

The next day we hit Phoenix and the Heard Museum. Liz has been interested in seeing this institution for over forty years since she was an anthropology major at the University of Washington. This fascinating collection started with Hopi katsinas, then grew to embrace international themes such as "Home" and "Water". We enjoyed an exhibit of Georgia O'Keefe's work from New Mexico, and a presentation on cochineal, a dye from New World insects that resulted in royal British colors changing from purple to red when it found it's way from the New World to the Old. Particularly riveting was a most sympathetic exhibit of the "Indian Boarding School" experience. The air conditioning was particularly sharp there, perhaps reflecting the discomfort the kids must have felt being torn away from the warmth of familial familiarity. Our dear friend Bette Story helped us get to this superlative museum and we got to ride the Phoenix light rail as an extra treat.


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