Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Follow up to Aliens, US Air Force, Mormons and Atomic Bombs

The entrance to the Hill Aerospace Museum

After driving almost 6000 kms (the Interstate 15 from the north tip to the south tip, and then a return trip past Area 51/the Extraterrestrial Highway), I have been fortunate to have experienced many museums, as mentioned in my previous blog.

Aliens - We had hoped to go to the Alien Research Centre but sadly, we could not find it! In a ghost town with 10 houses, it amazed me we could not find a Quonset with a big alien out front but we couldn't! I had tried calling there numerous times in the days leading up to our drive through this area and no one ever answered the phone and there was no voicemail - hmmm maybe it is gone? Though we did get a picture of the sign pointing us there......

US Air Force - well the Hill Aerospace Museum was one of the largest museums I have been in, but it had to be considering how many planes were inside (probably at least 50 and some massive military transport planes). It was on a very large air force base near Salt Lake City Utah (which is also near Wendover, which has the largest no fly zone in the whole USA, according to a brochure I picked up when we were in Wendover). The volunteers at this museum are often retired military and enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience. The museum was excellent if you enjoy planes and military knowledge and experiences, therefore it was great for my sons but not a place that I, in particular, would chose to go to again. I'm sure I saw some amazing things however, not having a whole lot of knowledge in this area, I don't know what I should be bragging about seeing!! It is free though so definitely worth the stop to check out.

An explanation of the work they are doing on one of the exhibits - very well done and it also mentions the costs both financially and human resource wise of the upkeep, encouraging people gently to donate money or time. Donors were noted in this.

The education centre - the walls that you can't see were full of awards they had presented to educators in the schools who they felt deserved recognition.

A very small part of one of the exhibit spaces.

Mormons - so the Pioneer Museum is not open for the last 2 weeks of December! I was quite disappointed but also reminded myself that I need to look into these things a bit better before traveling and assuming that everything will be open on my time. However, I did get a chance to go to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and that was amazing - the Christmas displays were some of the best I have ever seen. They did have exhibits with stories from their scriptures, which were very well done, so I was able to enjoy that in place of the Pioneer Museum.

One of the exhibit spaces in the public buildings in Temple Square - Salt Lake City.

Atomic Bombs - the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas is one of the best museums I have ever been to! It is huge, has so much information, and really makes you aware of the shocking, sad, and frightening things that have gone on in that area of the world, in the name of war (or peace, depending on how you look at it). There is even a "bunker" where you get to experience a mock nuclear explosion - the light, the wind, the sound, the shaking - it was very scary and very much a wake up call to the reality of this weapon. Unfortunately they only allow cameras into one area of their museum, a piece of the twin towers, so that was the only image I got inside the museum. I highly recommend it AND the Korean taco stand across the street - it had the best food we had on our whole trip and it was very cheap!!

The entrance to the museum, the store is behind me.

A beam from the twin towers.

Some other things that we saw that I didn't expect to:

~ the museum in Dillon, Montana - we stayed overnight there so before we left town, we stopped by there. It is a fun little museum that actually encompasses quite a few buildings. They were very friendly and it was worth the stop! My favourite item on exhibit was a one eyed animal!

~ the Titanic Artifact exhibit at the Luxor - not to be confused with the one that has travelled to Victoria and is coming to Calgary as apparently this one is much bigger (it has a huge piece of the ship - the biggest piece ever recovered that is as big as a room....it took 2 years to desalinate it..... for example). I highly recommend it to anyone - the admission is high but it is definitely worth it! It was a very emotional experience, with a lot of hands on in the exhibit, but due to the very fragile nature of the artifacts, pictures were not allowed inside again so I can't show you how worth it this is!

huge sign above entryway to exhibit

~the exhibit at the Hoover Dam is small but very hands on and has some games for kids to understand the whole idea of increasing and decreasing outputs with the dam. It truly was an amazing engineering feat (and did you know it has so much cement that they could make a 4' wide sidewalk that would go around the equator one time!? Crazy!)

I did, of course, pick up volunteer forms and event schedules for most of theses places so that I could peruse them for ideas for my own job, but have not had time to do so yet. I did see some neat ideas for interpreters at the Hill Aerospace Museum, and some wonderful volunteer acknowledgement displays (again the one at the Hill Museum was very well done).

A volunteer display at the Hill Aerospace Museum - it was in a hallway in the main area that you had to walk through to get to the display. It told not only the volunteer's name, but what year they started volunteering with the museum, plus, as you can somewhat see, photos of volunteer events, awards won by volunteers, etc.

These little stands were not really too noticeable but they were throughout the exhibits at the Aerospace Museum. When I took a closer look and read what was on there, it was information for the interpreters about the exhibit that this was nearest to, as well as some ideas for hands on activities etc that could be done with visitors of different ages at this point! Very cool! Obviously they were missing comment cards but they did have volunteer applications on each of these displays, too!

Now I have to absorb it all and take what I can from those experience to improve what I can. It is fun to share, learn, experience and explore with other museums and exhibits, especially ones as diverse as the ones I enjoyed in the last few weeks.

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