The Mutter Museum

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One of the main reasons why I wanted to visit Philadelphia was to see the Mutter Museum. It has been on my “must visit” list for far too long. I am happy to report that not only did I get to visit the museum, but, it lived up to my expectations. The museum is named after Thomas Dent Mutter who was a physician and Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (for the record I have never used the word “of” so much in one sentence).  Throughout his life, Mutter acquired a substantial teaching collection including human specimens and medical instruments. On his death, 1 700 objects were bequeathed to the College. Today, that number has grown to over 25 000.

Here is a run down of what exactly you’d find in the collection:

Wet Specimens – biological material preserved in a fluid (alcohol or water)
Skeletal Specimens – whole skeletons or bone fragments
Models – anatomical models used for teaching
Instruments – an array of medical equipment and apparatus

Continue reading “The Mutter Museum”

Philadelphia Museum of Art

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is an overwhelming institution in the best way possible. You could so easily spend an entire day here and not come close to seeing everything. I had been warned that this is a huge gallery filled with everything from 15th century European art to Picasso and Mondrian. Basically, if you want to visit a gallery that has a bit of literally everything, then this is the one to add to your list. Continue reading “Philadelphia Museum of Art”

National Portrait Gallery 

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On our final day in Washington we decided to finish our museum journey at the National Portrait Gallery. My main motivation for visiting was to see the portrait of Benjamin Franklin and pose with the same judgemental smirk on my face. Now my motives are clear, I want to quickly add that as soon as we entered the gallery, we discovered there was so much more to see.

The first gallery that caught my eye was the American Presidents Gallery located on the second level. At the top of the stairs is a huge painting containing four individuals and called “The Four Justices”. Depicted is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Sandra Day O’Connor. Like every label in this gallery, it was super easy to read and understand. This one in particular had a lot of history woven into an explanation of the artwork. Continue reading “National Portrait Gallery “

Eastern State Penitentiary

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Again I find myself so excited to write a review I just can’t wait to share! The Eastern State Penitentiary is such an incredibly fascinating heritage place. I’m going to start with a little bit of history then move into my experience of the site. There is so much I want to cover so I’m going to try my best to summarise as much as possible and hopefully persuade you to visit for yourself!

The Eastern State Penitentiary is regarded as one of the most famous prisons in the world. It was opened in 1829 and functioned as a prison until 1971. According to their website, this prison was the first true penitentiary, meaning a place designed to “inspire penitence”. As opposed to other prisons at the time, namely Sing Sing in New York, the Penitentiary favoured solitary confinement over physical punishment. Bit by bit the prison closed and eventually was left to ruin. The decision had to be made with what to do with the site. Some wanted it completely demolished but others argued it should become a shopping mall. On the eve of the decision, a group of historians and preservationists fought to keep the site as a reminder of America’s past. Luckily, they won and now it is a site of stabilised ruin. I will write so much more on this concept later but let’s get into the site itself. Continue reading “Eastern State Penitentiary”

National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum

si_and_society_logoI mentioned in a previous post that the last time we were in Washington we visited almost every Smithsonian. For some reason, the Air and Space Museum was not on our list. This is probably because my desire to see objects from space didn’t really develop until after we visited the Kennedy Space Center. To this day, I still haven’t experienced anything quite like seeing the Atlantis Space Shuttle. It continues to give me goosebumps. With this in mind, we made sure to  fit the Air and Space Museum into our schedule.

The day before we visited the National Museum of American History. There are both strong positives and criticisms about this museum I want to cover before delving into Air and Space. Continue reading “National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum”

Museum of the American Revolution 

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Although I am still releasing posts on Washington, I couldn’t resist writing about the Museum of the American Revolution. After our visit to the Mütter Museum (which will be posted about later) we were a little lost for what to do. This isn’t because there is nothing to see, actually it’s quite the opposite. You can’t take two steps in Philadelphia without seeing a museum. This is otherwise known as my kind of town.

We decided to visit the newest museum in Philadelphia, the Museum of the American Revolution. We are determined to leave Philadelphia with a better idea of what happened during the American Revolutionary War. At first I was a little hesitant to visit. I thought it was going to be another extremely patriotic museum that just focused on the Founding Fathers with little to no mention of anyone else. Of course they were mentioned, however, there was a great effort to integrate other groups into the narrative. Continue reading “Museum of the American Revolution “

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in September 2016. It continues to be one of the most popular and visited Smithsonian Museums in Washington. After visiting the National Museum of American History, honestly the bar was set quite low for what to expect. I will definitely write about that later. As opposed to some of the other Smithsonians, this museum felt innovative and up-to-date. Even before walking into any exhibition you could already start to see this through the architecture of the building itself.

I felt very fortunate to visit this museum with two friends from my museum studies course. We tried our very best to see as much of the museum as possible. It is an absolutely massive museum with three large floors of history and four floors displaying culture. I don’t think it would be possible to see everything in one day. This isn’t a criticism because being a National museum means, in my opinion, getting as much information out there for all to read/see. It is more beneficial to commit to either seeing a different section every time or walk through at a pace stopping to read what catches your eye. I had a lot of trouble deciding what to focus on for my review. There are just so many important elements and stories that have gone into the creation of this museum. Every floor is overflowing with significant events, important messages, and opportunities to reflect on the past and the pain and suffering that continues to scar this country. It is no easy feat to nicely wrap this up in a blog post. Continue reading “National Museum of African American History and Culture”