The Arts Deserve A Holiday
Per usual Wikipedia proves it is the website I would hang out with at a bar or a party, hanging on its every word. Cheers to the random factoids! With a few clicks I discover there are 139 types of museums (yeah, yeah, roughly 139 because it is crowd-sourced) including beer museums, bank museums, bible-themed museums, biographical museums, bus museums, and business museums. That’s just the Bs! So now I can cheers you with a hearty, happy International Museum Day and give you a rundown of one particular type of museum I hope to see plenty of this summer: the outdoor museum. As the weather heats up and we all give our wanderlust free reign, let’s make these our mutual destinations.
Open-air museums are an absolute favorite of mine. These facilities let you take in art, sculpture, and culture the way Mother Nature intended. From historic sites to cabinets of curiosity that live amidst the elements, there are so many intriguing places to visit that enliven our cultural sensibilities without trapping us indoors for hours to get the experience.
Visit the ruins with the volcanic Vesuvius in the background. Though much of the original mosaics and art found at Pompeii are off-site for conservation purposes, walking down these ancient streets still feels incredibly immersive. It is an eerie and solemn experience, but full of beauty too. Learn more at pompeionline.net.
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas
Gasp-worthy casino signage from by-gone days. This self-styled boneyard is perhaps the coolest place in Vegas — according to me. Night tours show off the signs to their best advantage. Find more information at neonmuseum.org.
Preacher turned artist, Howard Finster made a four-acre garden compound after the voice of God told him to create 5,000 works of art. He ended up making more than 46,991 pieces before his death and you can visit them all in Summerville, Georgia. Here’s the website: paradisegardenfoundation.org.
I know it isn’t a museum but the car lover in me knows it is only a matter of time!! A riff on Stonehenge, this outdoor museum in Alliance, Nebraska, is the brainchild of artist Jim Reinders and shows itself to be surprisingly lovely despite the contrast of rusted auto chassis to amber waves of grain. Get ready to press the pedal to the metal and go by visiting its website, carhenge.com.
Storm King Art Center
500 acres to wander, run and play in–all the while coming across amazing sculpture after amazing sculpture. Several of the most famous sculptors of the last century have left their work in Mountainville, New York, and it continues to draw artists and appreciators with its open-air charm. Explore all Storm King has to offer at stormking.org.
Naoshima Art Island
I wish! If dreams do come true, I will one day visit this island off the coast of Japan. A remote safe harbor for sculpture, architecture and art, “Ando” Island seems like a place out of a dream. Visiting might take a bit of coordination but when it comes down to it I think there could be no better “art getaway” than sitting beside a Yayoi Kusama pumpkin and watching the tide roll in. Most of the art on the island was installed by Benesse Corporation.
Also known as Nuestro Pueblo or the Towers of Simon Rodia in acknowledgmentW of their maker, the Watts Towers are a series of 17 sculptures (the tallest of which stands at 99 ft) built from 1921-1954 in Los Angeles, California. A National Historic Landmark, the towers are adorned with found objects galore–ceramics, seashells, mirrors, toy dolls, and plastic bottles–and are an example of both outsider art and naive art. Learn more by visiting wattstowers.us.
International Museum Day — Take a Field Trip
Started in 1977, International Museum Day reminds us of the important role museums play in developing our societies. Museums are where our cultural heritage is stored. Worldwide, whether housing art, objects, inventions or ephemera, museums are our time capsules and vaults.
Want to understand a society–what it values and what it wants to preserve? Then look at its museums. Then look at the museums that don’t exist and should. Then consider all the museums that are just getting started or have opened recently and the reasons for that. The picture that forms really shows you something about a time, place, and people. So power to the museums and all the amazing objects that they house — past, present, and future.