Museums transport visitors with spring exhibits and programs
Does it feel like this spring is a super-long time coming?
The political season dragged on forever, the days have been dreary , and post holidays, post inauguration, many of us are feeling kind of post-Washington. With miles to go before our sweet summer getaways, folks might be feeling like they need an intervention to take their minds off the right here and now. Like they need to be transported.
It’s in that spirit that I’ve scoured the spring lists for those programs and exhibits that detail, consider or conjure other places. Or even those that require a day trip. Some of us are fortunate enough to have our vernal equinox jaunts already lined up. For the rest of us, here’s a little museums take-me-away to help warm us until springtime.
Curators of the Anacostia Community Museum’s “Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement” (open until Sept. 15) call the health of rivers worldwide “an indication of the health of the communities surrounding them, and the health of the planet.” This mission-changing exhibit — the first since the museum began its focus on global communities last fall — examines issues of urban planning, redevelopment, conservation and recreation. It features the history, sociology and science of not only Washington’s Anacostia River, but the waterways of Pittsburgh, Louisville, Los Angeles, Beijing and London.
The Folger Shakespeare Library attempts to challenge narratives of Irish history based on political and religious conflict in the newly opened exhibit “Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland” (through May 19). In letters from Elizabeth I, Gaelic poetry and facsimiles of portraits and family records, it details the cultural connections between England and Ireland,including the ways that connection figures into works by Shakespeare. For those of Irish descent — or even those who are just Irish on St. Patrick’s Day — the exhibit coincides with “The Gathering,” a year-long Irish celebration of culture.
A quick trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art will get you “Journeys to New Worlds: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art From the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection” (Feb.16 to May 19). The exhibit of paintings, furniture, silver and ivory works details the new visual culture created by the global empires of the two nations during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The “Moveable Feasts: Entertaining at Glen Burnie” exhibition (opens March 5) at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valleypromises to be a lighthearted look at the entertaining that took place on the site in the 1960s. Visitors will stroll through a garden maze to glimpse vignettes of the various feasts that museum benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. and his partner at the time, R. Lee Taylor, hosted. It includes an array of faux food from the era: cocktail peanuts, ham, eggs Benedict. And objects include examples of Glass’s dinnerware collection, silver pieces and a dinner jacket. A video game features an attitudinal butler, and there’s a station where kids can try to fold napkins into a peacock. With the historic house museum undergoing infrastructure renovations, the exhibit goes off-path a bit to tell back stories, including ones about the same-sex couple who lived in the house and how they used it.
Little promises to take our minds off the everyday more than a day-long focus on creativity. TEDxRVA “Create” on March 22 will be the first TEDx event — global conferences around themes of technology, entertainment and design — in Richmond. The event offers a combination of presenters — artists, business professionals, advocates — videos and interactives to animate small-group discussions. It takes place at the 1894 coal plant that powered the nation’s first electric trolley system, on Richmond’s Canal Walk from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with tickets prices to be announced Friday.
Visitors to the National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Latino Center will be able to travel back in time in the “Central America’s Past Revealed: Ceramicade los Ancestros” exhibit (March 29). This 120-object exhibit, a combination of art and archaeology, focuses on the seven nations of Central America from 1000 B.C. to the present. It highlights the social/trade networks and political connections to people in South America, Mesoamerica and the Caribbean.