Friday, July 20, 2012

A Day of Discovery

Thought for the day:  One time I went to a museum where all the work in the museum had been done by children. They had all the paintings up on refrigerators. [Stephen Wright]

I'm a huge fan of museums. All kinds of museums. In fact, in one of last year's posts, I confessed to being a bit of a Museum Slut . (Go ahead. You can go back and read about some weirdo museums. I'll wait.)

So, anyhow, it should come as no surprise that we visited another new museum while we were in Maryland. Well, not a new museum,  per se, but a new museum to us.

How cool is that picture? I've had it for a year or so, and thought of maybe using it sometime to go along with a post about how everybody needs help now and then. (Who knows? Still might, someday.) The idea of the a space shuttle hitching a ride strikes me as so totally cool. Even better, when we were in Florida a few years ago, we got to watch one of the shuttles launch. Discovery. (A perfect name, don't you think?)

Darn, the name doesn't show up very well on this closer shot of the piggyback ride, so I'll have to tell ya ... it's the (ta-DA!) Discovery.

Earlier this year, we watched the coverage on CNN of the retired Discovery being piggybacked to its new home near Washington, D.C.

And THAT'S where we went! To the Smithsonian Institute's Air & Space Museum at Dulles Airport. Discovery's new home!

Entrance to the museum

There's plenty of exciting things to see at this museum, but nothing, for me, matched the moment we caught the first dramatic sight of Discovery, and approached her, nose on.

Isn't she a beauty? We were able to get upclose and personal with her, close enough to touch, if we had reeeeeally really long arms. 

I took quite a few pics of the shuttle, but rather than show you all of them, let me show you just a few of the other neat things in that museum.

There were a BUNCH of vintage space age toys, most of them from the '50s and '60s.

How's about a flashy red plane that converts to an ugly red car?

The Spirit of Texas was the first helicopter to make an around the world flight. From September 1-30, 1982,  it covered 25 countries, 21 seas and oceans, and a total of 24,750 miles. 

I loved the eagle paint job on this plane. It's actually a Bearcat Conquest, and is the plane Darryl Greenamyer used to break a 30-year-old speed record in 1969. 

A Caudron G-4, a WWI fighter aircraft, and one of the oldest surviving bombers in the world.

This is one of my favorites, too... a circa 1912 biplane.

Know what these are?

They're examples of what's known as trench art. Art... made from munitions. The model biplane was made from an 8 mm cartridge. It would seem that, even in times of war, artistic expression demands an outlet.

So, there ya have it, just a taste of what we saw at that museum. You could say, that all in all, the day was full of...


So, what's YOUR favorite museum? Do you like aviation museums and air shows? In the near future, I'll tell you a story of the world's longest non-stop flight. (And I'm NOT talking about the time that little brat kicked the back of my seat for five hours straight. That just SEEMED like the world's longest flight.)

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. All right, I'll confess: I am also a museum slut. It's a great relief to know that I'm not alone.

    The photo of the two planes mating startled me at first, but then I realized it was only because I have a dirty and imaginative mind - - and I watch the Animal Planet channel too often.

    (No, I'm not drunk - - I'm just being silly. Fascinating post, as always).

  2. Amazing photos! My friend's 12 year old son is already taking flying lessons, so he would especially love this museum! We visited different Smithsonian's in D.C when the kids were still in high school, and I almost didn't let their moaning and groaning ruin my time. Julie

  3. Oh wow!! That's soooo super cool! The Smithsonian Institute Museums are so great.

  4. Amazing display. Discovery is mindboggling, but equaled in sheer strangeness and invitation to dare by the Caudron G-4 and '12 biplane --barely motorized kites. I imagine even an uneventful ascent involved hearing loss. Great photos!

  5. Oh, my gosh! That museum is about ten minutes from where I live. Next time you visit it, let me know, and I'll take you to lunch. :)

  6. Poor Discovery. she looks so old and beat up. But I guess she would after all those flights. I like the way she piggy-backs.

    Great post. I don't think Monster would appreciate the Museum, but someday I will take her to the Smithsonian. She wants to sleep over like NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. ha.

  7. 'There were a BUNCH of vintage space age toys, most of them from the '50s and '60s.'

    I would have loved to see that! Nothing quite recreates lost days for me like the toys of another era, Sus -- lovely!

    That (circa) 1912 biplane is just amazing. And the trench art just speaks to the most intimate spaces for me. It reminds me of another one of your posts on Japanese American art.

    I'm pretty sure I love museums just as much as you do!

  8. The "car plane" reminds me of an old James Bond movie! I tend to like local museums that give a flavor of the area in which it the tiny maritime museum located in an old house in our town.

  9. Cool pics, and I absolutely love the quote about the kids art on refrigerators. :)

  10. Jon- Hmm, maybe we should start an MSA (Museum Sluts Anonymous) for people like us. On second though, nah! I don't wanta be "cured". I reckon if those two planes had babies, they'd be precious little two-seaters, huh?

    Julie- Very neat that your friend's twelve-year-old is taking flying lessons, and if he's enamored with airplanes, he would definitely love that museum. We took our kids to a bunch of the D.C. museums over the years, too, but it was a two-way street. They were allowed to pick their favorite places to visit, too. One of our sons ALWAYS picked an ordinance museum in Aberdeen, MD. A bazillion tanks and weapons. For me, it was kinda a matter of "seen one hundred tanks, seen 'em all", but I didn't complain about looking at them every year, so the kids durn sure better not moan and groan about visiting the museums I liked! (Not that they did. They all inherited my museum slut gene.)

    Lynda- They sure are, and I never get tired of visiting them. It's impossible to see everything on a single visit, so there is ALWAYS something new to see.

    Geo- I love looking at modern planes, (I would like a Blackbird or B-1 for my birthday...) but the old ones really capture the imagination, don't they?

    Linda- Oh, wow! How cool. Have you visited the museum a hundred times? I'd like to think that if we lived that close to it, we would, but a lot of times, we overlook treasures in our own back yard. Unless it's gold. Or oil. Or a dark chocolate bush.

    Anne- Your little one is probably a little young to appreciate a lot of the museums, but she might enjoy the Natural History one. In small doses. And I don't blame her for wanting to spend the night. The GA Aquarium, and some of our museums here in Atlanta offer that, but I don't believe they offer adventures nearly as cool as in the movies.

    Suze- The space age toys were neat, but they reminded me of my not-so-neat experience with one. It was a shiny space age squirt gun, made of hard plastic, with big sharp "fins". It belonged to the boy next door, who was several years younger than I, and had a ferocious temper. I was blasting him with my plain ol' run-of-the-mill squirt gun, and he was returning fire with his spiffy Flash Gordon gun. When he tried to escape by running up the steps, he tripped. Wasn't hurt physically, but I guess his ego got bruised, because he threw his spiffy Flash Gordon gun with the big sharp fins at me, and hit me in the face. Split my lip clear through. Bled buckets. I got a mess of stitches, and still have an ugly scar. Fun times. HA!

    Liza- That car plane made me think of James Bond, too. You're right; those little out-of-the-way local museums can be a lot of fun, too. I believe I'd be inclined to skip that little Roach Museum in Texas, though.

  11. Linda- I like that quote, too. Our fridge is usually covered with masterpieces provided by our grandchildren, and I think anyone who has ever had kids or grandkids can smile at that quote.

  12. Oh, hubby would love to go there! The eagle plane is saweet! I haven't been to a museum in forever. Don't know what's around here other than corn and 'baccy. :) Dinosaur's, mummies and ancient artifacts do it for me.

  13. I adore the museums of the Smithsonian, and I love art museums.


  14. I wanted to get back to the museums in DC this summer but it's not working out. I enjoyed the Air and Space museum when we were there.

  15. Don't they ever give that thing a wash! :)

  16. I am a lover of museums also. We are about an hour out of Philadelphia which is also a city of museums. I especially love the smaller ones. However, my favorite of all is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is magnificent.

  17. CarrieBoo- Too bad you don't live in this neck of the woods. There are a lot of museums in and around Atlanta. Stuff Roz would enjoy, too. Planes and trains for your hubby, dinosaurs, art and artifacts for you, and hands-on kiddie museums for Roz. The "hospital" where Cabbage Patch dolls are "born" is even within driving distance.

    Janie- Great minds think alike. Looks like we have another member for MSA. (Museum Sluts Anonymous)

    Susan- There's still a good bit of summer left. I hope the trip to D.C. works out for you.

    DL- Nah. Nobody wants to compound the roof.

  18. Arleen- It's been quite a few years since we were in Philadelphia, but I really loved the Franklin Institute. (I don't even know if it's still there anymore.)

  19. What a fab Museum.

    I think my favourite has to be the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Kind of a mix of a first rate museum and a shrine of remembrance.

  20. I love museums, too. I can never pick favorites. The Franklin Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, even our county museum housing artifacts from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School all fascinate me.
    A red plane that turns into a car - too cool!

  21. Al- If I ever make it to Australia, I'll be sure to visit that one. (Right after I find a duck-billed platypus.)

    Cate- Welcome aboard. Thanks for signing on as a follower. The red plane/car was pretty neat. Not terribly practical, but neat.

  22. Thank you for calling me a slut. It's been so long since anyone said that about me.


  23. Janie- My pleasure, dear lady. When I was in my forties, one of my dearest friends used to call me that. First time she did it, I was insulted. Then I realized she considered it a "pet name". Could've been worse, I guess.