Euro Top 10: #4 – Free museums

 

No 4

#4 – Free museums

I am a firm believer that all museums should be free.

I know, I know – sometimes this isn’t possible.  Sometimes funding is short and demand is high and who wouldn’t want to make more money to preserve their paintings and sculptures and such?  But just as with other beautiful and important things in life, preserving greatness doesn’t mean nearly as much if the audience isn’t there to enjoy and learn from it.

10437515_957635109505_8900190354656654235_n

Rainy afternoon at the Tate Britain

 

That’s why I’m such a huge fan of the vast number of free museums in London.  On any given day, a person can walk into the British Museum and see the Rosetta Stone. They can go visit the Magna Carta or Shakespeare’s original manuscripts at the British Library.  They can take a free tour of the Tate Britain and follow a literal timeline of British art.  They can form their own opinions about censorship, ownership (as in the case of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum), citizenship (as in the Imperial War Museum – NOT free grumble grumble). Whether visitors take a free tour (offered at all free museums here and highly recommended!), stay for five minutes, or visit every day all day for a week, they can do so without barriers, without balancing the cost versus what they hope to get out of the experience.

10624705_957635069585_5598015040712940236_n

Guerrilla Girl costumes in the V & A – this group protests the extreme lack of female artists in art museums around the world, often talking about how there are many MANY more times more naked women in museums than female artists represented. I’m a big fan!

 

Museums have a lot to teach us – about where we came from, how other cultures live, what we can learn from the past as we plan for the future.  I think we’d all be better off if we hung out in free galleries a few hours a week, just reminding ourselves to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the world.

1383585_957635039645_884412990987177710_n

Period clothing at the V&A. Be still, my Darcy-loving heart!

 

The #4 is brought to you from… somewhere in France!

All photos are my own unless otherwise stated.

Click here to read the other posts in this series.

Starting summer strong

Summer opens up a million new ways to soak up the sunshine – even as work stays intense, weekends are filled with weddings and traveling, and patios serve up delicious food and drinks.

So I’m keeping moving this summer with some new, some old, and some totally free practices.  Here’s where you can find me this summer:

  • Playing softball with Social Boston Sports – we started the season as a group of free agents, but now we’re “Loose Change,” the friendly, talented, and generally awesome softball players who hit the fields by the Charles every Sunday evening.  After the season ends in two weeks, we’re moving to another field to keep the fun going as a real team!
  • Biking for the first time in years.  just got my biked tuned up and practiced riding it up and down the street today, without worrying about what my neighbors might think about a 27-year-old going in loops like a kid.  Next up, taking it on the bike path (once my lights come in!).
  • Free boot camp and outdoor exercise at Post Office Square – this is the awesome free one that I want to see YOU at!  Sara and I went today and it was awesome – basically group training, if not personal training.  The downtown location is perfect for me, the 7:15 start time gives me time for breakfast and a shower before work, and the trainers are really nice.  Not near you?  How about one of these other awesome outdoor exercise classes throughout the city?  
  • Running!  Just because our half marathon is over is no excuse to stop running.  I have two 5ks coming up, including Color Me Rad in July.  I also got in a good sunset mile run around my neighborhood last week – when the sun stays out so long, I might as well join it!
  • Dancing the night away.  I think I got about a year’s worth of exercise at Katey and Sal’s wedding, between all the shimmying and shaking and grooving.  So much fun, and dancing just makes me want to dance more… more… more!  Let’s dance!

What are you doing to keep moving this summer?

Whale poop and the meaning of life

You read that right.  Last week, I took my nerdiness to a whole new level when I willingly joined my friend Jessica for a lecture about whale poop.

Yes, it’s a thing.  It’s orange, it floats, and it stinks to high heaven (when it comes from a right back whale).  And it’s freaking amazing.

I never thought I could sit for an hour to hear someone talk about poop, but the scientist who spoke to us (Dr. Kathleen Hunt) was incredible.  Here’s a strong, smart woman, leading the way in scientific discoveries via POOP.  Can it get any better than that?  Here’s a crash course on why whale poop is so fabulous:

  • Mammal poop carries a ton of hormone information, and can tell scientists all about estrogen, testosterone, an animal’s reproductive status, and their stress levels.
  • Poop is a much better indicator of stress levels than blood samples, because taking blood always stresses animals out (how could it not?) while poop gives you an indicator of how what an animal’s hormone levels were like 1-2 days earlier.  This rocked my world.  Because of this, poop is better than blood.
  • Another earth-shaker – blood tests aren’t even an option for whales, since no great whales live in captivity (and you can’t trap a live whale for tests).  This is obviously true, but still crazy to think about.
  • The whale poop we talked about (from the right back whale) is actually collected by going near where the whale surfaced and scooping it up with a net.  Dogs can help with the search, as they can smell the foul stuff a nautical mile away.
  • Some animals are always a little bit high-strung (just like people!).  More on this later…
  • Not all stress is bad.  Mating is stressful, and being pregnant is stressful on your body, but you can adapt to those and other natural stress.  It’s the unexplained stress that you have to be careful about.

Continue reading

Lights, camera… Boston!

My life has been feeling a little more glamorous lately.  It may be my snazzy new haircut or the glow I get from running through the park at my 7:00 (AM!) boot camp, but I think I also owe a little bit of it to Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Bacon.

These boys, and good old Jeff Bridges (sorry dude – you were neither my Footloose hunk nor my 2 Guys, a Girl, and  Pizza Place crush) are getting ready to film a movie right across the street from our little old office in downtown crossing, Boston!  Just beyond the now-barren Borders (wah) they’re doing work on buildings, including the one right under us, and getting ready to film a new movie starting tomorrow- R.I.P.D.

I learned all this from the very helpful workman who gave out waaaay more information than he was supposed to – maybe he was excited about Ryan’s arrival, too.  Though even before we had the specifics, we knew something was fishy when the convenience store across the street suddenly (and I mean in less than 24 hours) looked like this:

Um, hello 2011?  I may have a record player, but I know no one is stupid enough to open a VCR repair shop where a bustling convenience store used to be.  Now this one, on the opposite side of the street is more believable, especially in this economy:

See that white building, to the right of the green awning?  That’s my entry way to the office.  Yep.  I;m practically a part of the set – and now I have a much better incentive to get up and stroll into that part of the office between my bajillion meetings.  Just to show my dorky side, I want to say that I love that they’re consistent with the building numbering – this really is 25 Milk Street.  Now, I’m trying to decide if it would be acceptable to create a Yelp! account for this fictitious (but documented!) locale.

This is the best celebrity dorkiness I’ve enjoyed since I attended that Wheel of Fortune taping.  I’m loving every minute of it, even before the stars show up.  I’m out of town for tomorrow’s taping, but I hope to catch them later.  Have you run into these dudes or any other celebrities in Beantown lately (or elsewhere)?  Spill!

Journey to the center of the earth

Yeah, that’s right.  I did it, and I came out on the other side (literally).

Nolan and I recently made us of my Mapparium Buy With Me right before it expired, and got to walk inside and hear about this old stained glass dome.  We got there right before the tour started so we didn’t get to explore the entire exhibit, but we did get to walk inside the three story tall stained glass dome at the Mary Baker Eddy Library.  This map is the only place on the world where you can see the north pole and the south pole at the same time. Trippy, right?  Supposedly, it’s the only way to see the distance of countries from each other on the world’s surface, but I find this claim misleading because the countries are backward – from the center of the earth, facing the US, Europe is to the right of North America, but if I was really inside the earth, it should be on my left… right?  The distances might be accurate, but the directions are off.

The maps on this globe haven’t been updated since it was created in 1935.  On the tour, they said that there are 65 new countries that have been formed since this map was made.  However, we were there on the actual day South Sudan became a country (Kat, you ready to learn a new country yet?), so it’s really 66 now.  It includes places like Siam, the USSR, and a bunch of African countries with colonial names.

Overall, definitely worth $6 on a hot afternoon.  A word to the weak and weary though – when they say that sound in this dome projects, they mean it for real.  It felt like every person was whispering right in my ear – and then when the baby on our tour started crying, it rang through my head like there were 10 of her.  We scurried out after that, hence, no pictures.

But here’s me in front of the Christian Science Church, where we saw one of the world’s largest organs (over 13,000 pipes!!), toured the really interesting architecture, and got a cool tour from a church member.   I’d actually recommend the (free) church tour almost more than the Mapparium, though you have to go in with an open mind because while no one will actively try to convert you, they will almost certainly share their stories of how they were healed.   The history and architecture makes it worth it, though.   I had no clue until this that the Christian Scientists have no clergy, but it’s a shame people can’t get married here, because the building is gorgeous (also air conditioned, which is a plus for hot days).  If you go, let me know what you think!