Posted in 2015 (Europe), Blog

02/12/15: The Great Museum Expedition New Record

So I realize now that I didn’t actually write very extensively about my trip to NYC and DC, but I do consider the trip to DC to be an extended Great Museum Expedition,which of course first started when I went to as many museums in a day as I possibly could when I was in Hong Kong. Over the course of two days in DC, I visited … well, actually I don’t remember how many I visited. I think it was about three or four a day? Regardless, I definitely beat my own record this time.

Today started off unlike the previous Museum Expeditions because I know I’ll be back in Dublin come January and will have more time to spend in the museums. So of course, I used the chance to break my previous museums in a day record, but at least I also slept in. In Dublin, there are quite a few museums and libraries that also double as museums, so I started by looking at the National Museum of Ireland locations and choosing my ending place as the Chester Beatty Library. As with all best laid plans, they gang aft aglay, but this time not in a bad way and in more of a “well now I have a reason to do this again” kind of way. Armed with a pretty decent knowledge of Dublin City Centre and my bus route, I put some little stars on a Google Map and made my way into town.

Although it opened at 10am, I arrived at the first museum, the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History Museum, around 11am. For the first half hour of my trip through the museum, I was the only person there… I follow the NMI Twitter account, so I couldn’t help but Tweet at them this strange phenomenon a couple of times.

I’d previously gotten a reply from the Denver Nature and Science Museum while I was there and I wanted the chance to tell the museum what aspects I liked and what I thought of the exhibits. I didn’t spend much time in the History exhibits, I’ll admit, but I really enjoyed the Curator’s Choice exhibit because each artifact’s historical significance was highlighted in its information and there was often a quote from the curator himself about why he liked the piece or what it meant to him in relation to Dublin’s history. When I was walking through the third floor, I heard a rhythmic ticking and wondered if there was a temporary installation but, instead, I found a really neat clock! I took a video or two of it before going through to the next room, where I asked the at ending if the clock still chimed. He replied in the affirmative, so I walked through a couple rooms before coming back just in time to arch the clock mechanism chime for noon. I think it would’ve been cool to also see the bells themselves, but I understand that would be super loud and thought the clock was really cool regardless. As I was trying to leave, I found a dead horse skeleton, which I was not expecting…

My next stop was lunch, I tried to go to a place called Mandarin House because I found a review on Yelp that featured a photo of the salty Beijing noodles I have been searching for, but I ended up eating forlornly in the Centra across the street. After my not-noodles lunch, I walked to the shopping section because I wanted to catch a bus to my next location and I wanted to get my phone sorted out. The phone guy was super helpful and bumped up the amount of my top up so I didn’t have to pay for more data between now and when I go back to the US in six days, so that was super helpful.

Then I went and caught a bus to my next stop, the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. Turns out the NMI – Archaeology location was in the same gate as the National Library of Ireland, which we’d had a talk about during my course, so I figured once I finished at the Archaeology museum, I would go check out the Yeats exhibit there. The most fascinating and simultaneously gross exhibit at the Archaeology museum was the bog men, who had been found preserved in the peat bogs of Ireland. The first one I looked at was mostly a skeleton and I think I went through the bog exhibit backwards because after I read the info about the second and third bog men I saw, I began to realize that these weren’t just really old bodies preserved in the bog, they were really old murdered bodies that were preserved in the bog.

BOG MEN A photo posted by April (@apparentlyapril) on

There were two other American girls going through the bog men exhibit at the same time as me and I had a chat with them next to the final bog body, but at least it wasn’t the one with part of his face because I found him to be the most unnerving. They invited me to go to the National Leprechaun Museum, but I had only just arrived at the museum and wasn’t heading in that direction, but I told them I thought my friend was working there at the time. Later, Aoife commented on my Facebook status saying she sold them tickets to the museum!

Once I finished there, I got directions to the NMI – Natural History before heading across the courtyard (by going out the gate and then back in the other one) to the National Library of Ireland. They have an ongoing Yeats exhibit, which it really enjoyed. It reminded me a lot of the Alice in Wonderland exhibit I went to in NYC’s Morgan Library & Museum over the summer. I especially enjoyed the video room exhibit sections, but was somewhat disappointed that I couldn’t read the poems that were projected in light on the screens. Behind the screens, were the “hallways” that went behind the screen exhibit and you could see landscapes and paintings through the screens. Kind of hard to explain, sorry! I also enjoyed the exit activity of “What is your favorite poem?” Where you write down you favorite poem title, the author, and your name and post it up. Katherine McSharry, the NLI Head of Outreach, said during her guest lecture at UCD that they tally the answers at the end of the year. I chose To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell.

By this point in the day, I was definitely jonesing for a tea break, but also determined to museum it up in the last hours of the working day, so I walked over to the NMI – Natural History. As I was walking, I was thinking about my usual refrain regarding Natural History Museums: they’re usually the same. A standard natural history museum has mummies, dinosaurs, and space. Natural history isn’t really all that different around the world, but when I got to the NMI – Natural History I was surprised.

Oh DEER

A photo posted by April (@apparentlyapril) on

It reminded me a lot of the Pirates! In an Adventure with Science! scene where they meet the scientists.

Pirates!

I imagined the NH Museum was the kind of place where scientists in the early 1900s talked about dead animals. I made my way to the back and went through a closed door, which is a very uncomfortable experience for me, I don’t like to open closed doors – they’re closed for a reason! Went up the stairs and…. WOAH. At the end of the room was a sign saying this particular museum is frequently called the “dead zoo” and to that I say, yes accurate!

It was really impressive, though. I couldn’t get up to the balcony because, according to a very official sign and gate, there isn’t a good way to evacuate the balconies. A friend told me later they were doing a tour with teachers about three years ago when the staircase collapsed. No thanks, I’ll wait until they fix it up. (Dear National Museum of Ireland, please fix it up! I want to see the giraffe’s face!) After the Natural History Museum, I went to catch a bus to my final stop, the Chester Beatty Library, but I was really needing a tea pick-me-up, so I swung through the National Gallery Ireland and had a spot of tea there beforehand. A lot of the NGI is currently under construction and I’ll have to go back once more of it is open, but the paintings were lovely and I was somewhat surprised at the number of teens to young adults I saw in there on a Wednesday afternoon. As I was making my way through Dublin Castle’s grounds on my way to the Chester Beatty Library, I was seriously weighing coming back when I wasn’t so tired, it wasn’t so dark out, and when I would have enough time to go through Dublin Castle’s things. The decision was made for me, though, as I made it to the library just as the man was locking the doors. And that concluded (today’s) Great Museum Exhibition, with five museums visited! I realize now this blog post itself is the length of the essays I should’ve been doing instead of going on a Great Museum Expedition, but whatever. I had a good time and hope you’ve read this far! Especially because next week I’ll be home for Christmas holiday! I leave on Tuesday and I’m really excited because I’ll be home in time for my little bro’s birthday. And now, it’s time for me to say adieu and get back to those essays!

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