The past few weeks have been emotionally and mentally challenging for many people. As graduate students, we have to maintain a good work and study performance while juggling our Covid colored social lives and personal care, in addition last week many experienced the stress related with the election. This week I would like to invite our readers to share pictures of the objects in your homes that helped you relax, ground and move on.
Send a picture (1 or 2) of your “something relaxing” to email@example.com. Include your name and where you currently live.
As usual, I will be the first person to share. Last week, I felt that I was attacked by news coming from everywhere, academic work deadlines gave me anxiety and personal life was troubled. While I was journaling one day, I got an idea that I should create a collage of my emotions. I mapped my emotions, connected them with other forms of art, like cutouts of paintings and drawing and added words. I extracted the words and phrases from the quotes by my favorite philosophers, poets and other artists. While creating this kind of art, I felt calm and relaxed.
And happy grand opening day to the National Museum of the United States Army! Here’s the link to watch the opening ceremony, which will be livestreamed this afternoon at 1 p.m.
National Museum of the United States Army
There are various exhibits set up, including a soldiers’ gallery, which has the stories of men and women from many historic periods. Other exhibits seem broadly organized by period, covering the colonial era and Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Army’s role in WWI, and all the way up to modern warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq. The individual soldier seems to be of particular focus, giving voice to their particular narratives and experiences.
Experiential Learning Center, National Museum of the United States Army
The museum is also in the process of preparing an experiential learning lab, in which visitors must work collaboratively to help the Army solve a humanitarian crisis; this experience helps reinforce geography and STEM skills.
The museum is also ensuring the health and safety of staff and visitors, with efforts such as timed tickets and contactless ordering from the cafe.
COVID-19 safety measures, National Museum of the United States Army
The National Army Museum is also offering virtual events, for those visitors who are unable or uncomfortable to visit in person. There are two upcoming (free!) virtual book talks:
November 19, 7-8 pm EST. Book talk with Marc Gallicchio.
December 17, 7-8 pm EST. Book talk with Paula Tarnapol Whitacare.
Personally, I’m super interested in the Curator’s Corner episodes, which feature artifacts of interest in each episode. The first episode features Sgt. Gary Uchida’s canvas travel bag during WWII. Here’s that episode:
It is certainly interesting to see how the museum is diversifying and offering these events, and the efforts that are being made to ensure that museum visitors and staff can still enjoy the museum safely. It is certainly some good news to see a new museum opening up, and a great way to celebrate Veterans Day. Thank you to all who served, and are serving now!
The National Parks Service also partnered with many educational organizations, including museums, to celebrate National Fossil Day. While physical gatherings were out of the question, many natural history museums around the country offered virtual webinars and activities. Fortunately for us, many of the National Fossil Day festivities are still available online for our enjoyment.
Looking locally, the Harvard Museum of Natural History hosted a series of four free webinars with Harvard paleontologists. Visitors had a chance to get to know the researchers and learn a little bit more about the life of a fossil hunter. The talks covered the process of preparing fossils for study, caring for collections, studying ancient organisms, hunting for specimens, and interpreting fossils. Participants and students had the opportunity to engage with polls and even ask questions despite the digital format. For anyone interested, the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s NFD presentations are available here.
Nationally, many museums offered similar webinars and talks, as well as other activities. The Michigan State University Museum hosted a poetry session with Jay Artemis Hull, a Michigan-based poet who draws inspiration from fossils, rocks, and nature. The Texas Memorial Museum shared fossils from their collection, along with a story time for younger viewers, and a tutorial for creating a fossil with common kitchen staples.
The Museum of Science, Boston took a different approach by raising funds for museum operations with Cliff the Triceratops, one of only four nearly complete triceratops skeletons in the world. Visitor gifts will be matched and donors of $50 or more receive a pair of limited edition Cliff socks. They are super close to reaching their goal of $10,000!
While many museums still remain closed, and those that are open are limited in their operations, virtual events like National Fossil Day allow museums to keep in touch with their communities. The Harvard Museum of Natural History talks brought fossil loving adults, like myself, together with families and classrooms over a shared interest in natural history. Though I still miss the ability to go look at fossils myself, virtual National Fossil Day helped me feel connected and engaged, if not even more eager to go visit museums.
This bone is from a domesticated cow (Bos taurus) that lived and died on a beef cattle farm in Dudley, Massachusetts, which is about a thirty-minute drive from my house. It is an axis or C2 vertebra, which means it was the second vertebra in the cow’s neck. It connected to the atlas vertebra at the base of the cow’s skull and allowed the cow to turn its head. The main hole in the center of the bone protected the cow’s spinal cord, while smaller holes around the bone allowed nerves to connect to the main cord. The bone sustained some postmortem damage, perhaps nibbled by mice and deer as a calcium supplement before I found it in the woods.
The bone reminded me of Georgia O’Keeffe‘s paintings, which often feature cattle bones and other western motifs. Her art balances death and life, as longhorn skulls and arid landscapes are juxtaposed vibrant desert flowers.
The same balance of death and life can be seen in local farming, in which the cow played a small part. While agriculture in Massachusetts and the rest of New England had been in decline for several decades since the Industrial Revolution, it is fortunately no longer dying. According to the Massachusetts Agriculture Census, conducted by UMass Amherst’s Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environmentin 2017, there are more than 7000 farms in my little state– up from around 4500 in 1974, the first year the census was held. While small farms were expected to disappear after the advent of genetically modified crops and enormous factory farms, they have instead evolved to find a niche in the slow food and organic movements.
I was getting frustrated in my search for an object which would fit the theme of “Death” when I noticed a door under the stairs. I have lived in this house for longer than a year but never paid attention to that door. As the door was located near to outside door and on the first floor, I imagined that it would be full of old or rarely used items, possibly old fashioned and dusty outwear. When I opened that door, I did indeed see some old coats. One of the them was an old vintage fur coat. I asked my landlord about that coat. She told me that inherited it after her mother passed away. Her sisters suggested for her to take the coat with her when she moved to Boston from Germany, as in their opinion Boston had colder winters then their home town.
The coat was made of real fur, but my landlord didn’t know which animal’s fur was used to make it. Because of the cruelty involved in the production of fur clothing, the coat symbolized Death to me.
My Home is a Museum project which aims to create an ongoing conversation around the weekly prompts inspired by the events happening the globe. Everyone who sends submissions to weekly prompts can suggest prompt ideas for the following weeks. The proposed themes are used in the order that they are received.
Abigail Epplett, is the last week’s participant who suggested “Death” as a prompt for new – Week 7. This is how she explained her choice:
“I was inspired by the cow vertebrae I keep on the filing cabinet next to my desk. I got it from my aunt’s farm a few years ago– her family rents grazing land to the Boston Beef butchers. The vertebrae reminds me of Georgia O’Keeffe‘s western paintings, which often feature cattle bones. I know cultural perception of “death” is highly variable around the world, so I thought it would be interesting to see what mortuary objects other people had around their houses.”
Let me remind you how to participate.
Choose an object what fits the theme
Take 1-3 pictures of the object
Please describe how your object reflects the theme of the week. This is your chance to make your object shine and share its story 🙂
Please include the answers to the following information when submitting your entry:
What it your name?
Where do you live?
What do you do?
Email your pictures and descriptions to Sayyara.firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Please note that by submitting your response to this project you agree to its public display.