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Snap Selfies #AtTheMuseums for Better Insight

What is more fun than a treasure hunt? How about a treasure hunt that includes snapping selfies—and has the added bonus of maybe learning more than you knew before?

Here is how it works: Pick up a flyer from the Welcome Center, find a Selfie Spot (there is at least one in each museum), snap a picture, and discover the story behind the spot. And have FUN!

Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
Have a Seat!

The D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is filled with art in all forms—even a place to sit.

The Museum commissioned Massachusetts artist and woodworker Tom Shields to create this unique bench for the Contemporary Gallery. Shields excels at creating functional sculpture from discarded chairs. The whimsical bench seats 8 to 10 people and visitors are invited to sit on the sculpture while contemplating the artwork in this space.

Tom Shields revealed when he delivered the bench: “The world I see is flat. I have two eyes which both wander and never see the same thing at the same time. This creates a monoscopic vision and negates the judgement of depth. This has influenced my life since I was born and that influence is most apparent in my art. This unique visual trait is what led me to pursue woodworking, painting, and drawing at a young age.”

Tom Shields (American, born 20th century). Seventy Two Legs, 2010. Wooden bench

 

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum
There Be Dragons!

The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum is home to the eclectic art collection of George Walter Vincent and Belle Townsley Smith. The Smiths collected art from around the world and had an affinity for Asian art, assembling one of the largest collections of Chinese cloisonné outside of Asia.

The Smith Museum also has beautiful and creative pieces on which to rest the dragon headed bench created by William F. Stock (American, 1864 – 1950) is one of many benches and chairs found throughout the region. His obituary read: “Thousands upon thousands of Connecticut Valley residents have rested on one of his carved benches, worshipped in a pew which he beautified beneath capitals and friezes from his hand, done their banking in a building he helped decorate or at least walked past Maple Street or Long Hill houses he enriched by his carving.”

This fantastic bench was created specifically for the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, likely around the time of the museum’s establishment in 1896. Stock was born in the United States but spent his early years in Germany. He returned to America in 1893 and worked in New York City and Boston before coming to Springfield. For some time, he worked under the famous cabinet maker George A. Schastey (American, 1839-1894) whom George Walter Vincent Smith also employed.

The small creature holding a shield, who is perched on the banister of the main stairs in the lobby, may also have been carved by Stock or an associate.

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum
Let there be light—BEAUTIFUL light! 

The Tiffany windows that allow light to illuminate the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum are very rare. They are the only Tiffany windows specifically created for a museum that are still in place—in their original function as windows. The only other known windows made especially for a museum were at the Henry Field Memorial Art Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago and those windows have not survived.

The magnificent architectural design of the building, including the windows, is the product of museum founder George Walter Vincent Smith’s artistic sensibility, and more broadly, the Aesthetic Movement in American art. Aestheticism was a cultural phenomenon of the late 1800s that promoted beauty as an artistic, social, and moral force. George and Belle’s intense interest in collecting decorative arts fits well into this artistic culture and lifestyle movement. Fortunately for all of us, the Smith’s believed in sharing their collection and built this museum, with its beautiful art and attention to detail, for the public to enjoy.

Springfield Science Museum
There is a T-Rex behind you!!

The two-story-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex located in Dinosaur Hall is wrong! But still, we love the life-

Springfield Science Museum, Springfield, MA.

size replica of the 20-foot-tall meat eater who lived 65 million years ago. When this model was created, scientists were pretty sure the dinosaur’s upright posture was correct. However, scientists continually re-evaluate ideas based on new research. We now know that this dinosaur walked more like a chicken, with its tail off the ground to work as a counterbalance to its head. We have learned also that dinosaurs might have had feathers!

The Springfield Science Museum is itself evolving. As we move forward this year with needed structural renovations to this beloved museum, we are also working on updating and revitalizing our exhibits. That revitalization will include a more accurate depiction of a T-Rex. But until then, this giant model is a piece of history in and of itself.

Springfield Science Museum
What’s In that Fallen Log?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? That is a wonderful philosophical question. However, there is ALWAYS “someone” there to hear—whether they are eight-legged, six-legged, four-legged, two-legged, or no-legged. And the brand new interactive exhibit “Fallen Log” at the Springfield Science Museum is a wonderful tool for learning all about those many “someones” who are present in the forest at all times.

After you snap your selfie, climb into and around the fallen log and see what you can discover about who lives there.

“We believe the best way to learn about the habitat supported by a fallen log is to crawl right in,” said Dave Stier, Director of the Science Museum, referring to the fact that the log is a structure visitors play in, around, and on. “The log is also filled with nooks and holes and doors to open so children can discover for themselves who is living inside.”

Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum Of Springfield History
Stand Up for Equal Opportunities with Thomas Thomas!

Springfield has a long history of civil rights participation—not the least of which happened in the era of the Civil War when John Brown and Frederick Douglas considered Springfield an important hub of pro-human rights activity. After the war, Springfield residents Thomas Thomas (American, 1817-1894) and Eli Baptist (American, 1820-1905) founded the Union Mutual Beneficial Society in 1866 to provide financial assistance for African American entrepreneurs. Each of these successful businessmen had experienced discrimination when trying to secure financial loans, so they created their own institution to help others succeed.

The Archives of the Wood Museum of Springfield History contain all kinds of documents that help us better understand the history of the city and region. In addition to information about Thomas and Baptist, for instance, the first book banned in America is housed in the archives—Springfield founder William Pynchon’s The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption, 1650 was considered heretical as it questioned philosophies of the prevailing religion. Visitors can explore the Library and Archives Tuesday–Friday: 11 am–4 pm.

Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum Of Springfield History
Time to Skate with Barney!

Everett Hosmer Barney (American, 1835-1916) was known as the man who put America on skates, thanks to his invention of clamp-on skates. Instead of putting on a whole skate—boot and blade attached as one—you could just clamp a blade to your own shoes and go! He was a proficient skater and was even featured demonstrating a figure eight on skates in the 1900 book A Handbook of Figure Skating Arranged for Use on the Ice, 1907, written by George H. Browne. The patent Barney received in 1864 for these cool skates was the first of many.

Once you get a selfie together with Barney on skates, take a look at another one of his inventions in the case nearby.  Awarded a patent in 1868, this perforating machine could stamp the amount due on a check, or the words canceled and paid.

Looking a little further in this gallery, there is a Knox automobile that was built in Springfield specifically for Barney: the 1899 Knox.

Barney was not just an inventor and co-founder of the Barney & Berry Skate Company, he was also a great philanthropist—giving money and land to the City of Springfield. Most impressively, he gave his estate to help form the largest park in the city: Forest Park.

He also built the Barney Mausoleum, which young Ted Geisel (American, 1904-1991) must have seen while he was a child. As a grown up, many speculate that Ted, aka Dr. Seuss, remembered the curved stairway of the mausoleum when he drew the many zany, curvy, and spectacular stairs in his beloved books for children.

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum
Think Pink Ink with Dr. Seuss

If you can tear yourself away from the Seuss Bakery and Moose Juice Factory and find your way to Readingville, you will find the Selfie Spot in front of the VOOM mural from The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. If you recall, that is the book in which the famous pink spot grows from a ring around the tub to a full-on color change for the snow-covered neighborhood. That is until the Cat in the Hat saves the day by releasing Little Cat Z’s VOOM.

Pink shows up also in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, where the Yink likes to drink pink ink. The pink theme helped inspire the pink railings, lampposts, and Seussian arch surrounding the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum
In Horton’s Garden 

More than 3 million people have found their way to Springfield since 2002 when Lark Grey Dimond-Cates installed the National Memorial Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden and set us all on the way to creating and opening The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. The number one question of our visitors for fifteen years was, “Where is the Dr. Seuss Museum?” Of course you are now standing in The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, which opened in 2017. Until Dr. Seuss’s family learned about the museum, we were planning a single-story children’s museum experience, but when the family— Lark Grey Dimond-Cates and Leagrey Dimond, his step-daughters and Ted Owens, Dr. Seuss’s great-nephew—stepped forward with items from Dr. Seuss’s private life which they wanted to share with his fans, the Museum doubled in size.

The gallery you are standing in now was developed by Dimond-Cates, who wanted to share the process behind those amazing bronze sculptures in the garden. No matter the weather, you can snap a selfie with spring green and bright sunshine thanks to this beautiful wall mural!

And if you walk across the gallery, you can read from the baby book Dr. Seuss’s mom, Nettie Seuss Geisel, kept about young Ted, from birth until he turned 18. Dimond-Cates found it, and she and her sister, Leagrey Dimond, wanted to make sure The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum had it to share.

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So remember the “rules”: Pick up a flyer from the Welcome Center, find a Selfie Spot (there is at least one in each museum), snap a picture, and discover the story behind the spot! Although selfie sticks are not allowed inside the museums, we welcome you to take photos with your camera or phone and to post them on social media with the hashtag #AtTheMuseums. Don’t forget to keep a safe distance from other people and museum objects. And, of course, have FUN!

The Selfie Spots will change, come back and add to your selfie collection and to your knowledge.