January 2013 Archives
My family went to the Museum of the Earth yesterday. While it was great to (re)visit a place my kids love, a place where they can learn about science, it made me think more critically about the strange ways we tell the exciting news of woodworking and carpentry.
There are certainly museums showing fine work. The Musée d'Orsay's furniture collection caught me by surprise years ago, and I've seen exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Peabody Essex Museum, and mixed into other museum's collections. Winterthur is an amazing collection of furnished rooms, with the Dominy workshop preserved behind glass.
There are also great living history museums, Colonial Williamsburg, Old Salem, the Genesee Country Village, Mystic Seaport, Hyde Street Pier, and many others showing how wooden things were made and used.
The Museum of the Earth doesn't have the excitement of the living history models or the rarity of the museum pieces, but it manages something else. It creates an approachable environment that visitors at all levels can explore, learning through hands-on activities, reading, pictures, models, watching others work, videos, and even toys. They do a great job keeping adults entertained while children explore, and presenting similar information in different - but not boringly repetitive - forms.
It is possible that somewhere there is a museum of woodworking that has learned from the science museums and the children's museums? I haven't heard of it and certainly haven't seen it.