Growing up a short train ride from New York City, some of the greatest museums anywhere were practically in our back yard, but, in a way, the easy access made them less exciting….The Museum of Natural History….AGAIN?! But my Pop loved to learn and wanted to share that love of learning, so, intentional or not, he made museum visits an adventure by escaping our back yard. We went to see wooly mammoths in Nebraska and Albany, NY. We visited the Circus Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin. My favorites, by far, were the trips to Washington DC. Without a word he would scoop me out of my bed before the sun came up. I vaguely remember stirring in my sleep when the cool, dewy, early morning air hit my face and I bounced in his warm arms as he carried me to the family station wagon. I would wake a few hours later as we drove along the NJ Turnpike, somewhere in Southern New Jersey, on our way to the Smithsonian Museums and National Mall in Washington DC!
Somehow, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History never got old. How could it when outside there was a life-size triceratops named Uncle Beazley, that you could climb on and slide down his tail? The National Mall had a beautiful old carousel that I could ride for hours if given the chance. The Air and Space museum was always full of wonder, with gliders, planes and rockets magically suspended from the ceiling and a gift shop with space suits, “Astronaut” freeze-dried ice cream (yuck) and more kites than the ceiling had room to display. Washington DC is now home to many more museums that didn’t exist then, so picking a favorite now would be difficult, but back then there was a favorite that still holds a special place in my heart because of one very special day.
The National Museum of American History (formerly History and Technology) was my and Pop’s favorite! It housed an old fashioned ice cream parlor, an enormous pendulum that swung with the earth’s rotation, trains, classic cars and ever changing exhibits that could fascinate, anger, impress and created in me, a desire to both honor the past and be part of creating a better future.
Now, this particular visit to DC began with my mother wanting to visit an art museum and my Pop and I wanting to go to History and Technology so my mom and brother headed to the art museum while Pop and I headed to H&T with plans to meet up later. You see, the long running tv show M*A*S*H had recently ended and there was an exhibit at History and Technology that included parts of the set. I had watched M*A*S*H with Pop, but I was young so much of the show was lost on me at the time. It’s funny understanding and perspective can change, regardless of age, when you truly get to experience a place and time versus watching it on a screen or reading about it in a book, even if it is just a set. Entering the exhibit was like entering one of the tents on the show. We walked past the cases full of costumes and props. As we came upon the shows operating room I suddenly felt grateful to be holding my daddy’s hand (he fought in WWII) and that my older brother never had to go to Vietnam. It was this exhibit, this time with Pop that, although I didn’t know it at the time, planted the seed, my desire to create experiences in a safe space that teach, change perspective, begin dialogue and beg to be shared.
As planning continues, Broadsides & Brews gets more exciting, with hidden items, “Easter eggs” to find and fun, historical facts included as a basis for much of the experience that we are so excited to share with you!