Museum Monday

Museum Monday: solar system made in Kentucky


While visiting Kentucky last week I spent a few hours with the knowledgeable and very gracious staff at the museum of the Kentucky Historical Center in Frankfort. While there I was pleased to see – and learn about – the orrery pictured above.

An orrery, I learned, is a mechanical model of the solar system. This one was made by Thomas Barlow – a mechanic and inventor who lived in Kentucky – and purchased in 1887 for use at a school in Lexington. It’s unknown how many orreries Barlow (and his son) made in their shop, but today there are only three intact models remaining around the world.

Museum Monday: SFO Museum’s latest offering

Platter, Tomb of the Emperor Shah Jehan (Taj Mahal) pattern c. 1824–30s Oriental Scenery Cartouche series maker unknown possibly Staffordshire, England earthenware, blue underglaze Collection of Michael Sack . Courtesy SFO

Platter, Tomb of the Emperor Shah Jehan Collection of Michael Sack . Courtesy SFO

The newest exhibit from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport, “From Print to Plate: Views of the East on Transferware,” features early nineteenth-century blue-and-white transferware with scenes of India, the Middle East, and China.

You’ve likely seen examples of transferware or transferware-like plates, but never looked closely at the actual images there. If you’ve got a some time to spend at SFO on a layover, here’s your chance.

This exhibition features blue-and-white wares made by Spode and a number of other British potters featuring scenes of famous architectural views of India, such as the Taj Mahal, drawn from early illustrated books, such as ‘A Picturesque Tour along the Rivers Ganges’ and ‘Jumna in India’ (1824) to scenes of Turkey and China taken from ‘Views in the Ottoman Empire’ (1803) and ‘A Picturesque Voyage to India by the Way of China’ (1810). The prints are alongside the corresponding plates and all come from the collection of Michael Sack.

from Print to Plate

courtesy SFO Museum


‘From Print to Plate: Views of the East on Transferware’ is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby at San Francisco International Airport and will be on view through March 19, 2017.

More images from the exhibition are on line here.

See Neil Armstrong’s gloves & helmet

Neil Armstrong's gloves & helmut - courtesy Smithsononian

Image: Dane Penland, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

In commemoration of the 47th anniversary of the first moon landing (July 20, 1969) the National Air and Space Museum is displaying Neil Armstrong’s lunar extravehicular gloves and helmet for the first time since 2012.

The artifacts recently underwent conservation and will be on view until July 20, 2017 at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.- which is just one stop from Washington’s Dulles International Airport on the Fairfax Connector (#983) bus.

Looking forward… Armstrong’s complete Apollo 11 spacesuit will go on display in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019.

In preparation for that anniversary, the museum is asking the public for photos of the spacesuit on display when it was on a national tour back in  in 1970, or of the gloves and helmet on later tours and the spacesuit on display at the Smithsonian between 1971 and 2006.

Neil Armstrong's spacesuit. Courtesy National Air & Space Museum

Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. Courtesy National Air & Space Museum ,

On its website, the Smithsonian also has a high resolution 3-D scan of the Apollo 11 command module “Columbia,” that allows anyone with an internet connection to explore the entire craft including its intricate interior – something you can’t do when you’re at the museum in person.


Museum Monday: Corkscrew collection at the CIA

While attending illy’s intensive University of Coffee at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in St. Helena, Calif. for this story about United Airlines’ coffee brand switch, I was pleased to get a chance to see Brother Timothy’s corkscrew collection.

The CIA’s Greystone campus in California was once the home of the Christian Brothers Winery and winemaker Brother Timothy Diener collected more than 1,000 corkscrews over 50 years. Here are a few snaps.


Corckscrew seahorseCorkscrew horse

Museum Monday: SPAM Museum reopening

If you’re a fan of the tinned meat product known as SPAM – or just enjoy a good offbeat museum – then you have a new reason to plan a trip to southeastern Minnesota: the Spam Museum is set to reopen on April 22, 2016.

Hormel's SPAM MUSEUM reopens April 22 in a new spot in downtown Austin, Minnesota.

The museum is located in Austin, Minnesota – home of SPAM manufacturer Hormel Foods Corporation – and has been closed since September 2014 in preparation for a move from just outside of Austin’s downtown to a spot right in downtown.

One of the new exhibits in the SPAM Museum - opening April 22 in Austin, Minn. Courtesy SPAM Museum

Some new galleries have been created, but Hormel made sure to keep the more popular exhibits, including one exploring Spam’s connection to the military and the production line game where guests can simulate making Spam.

SPAMples, the Spam Museum’s version of free samples, will continue as well.

Why did they move the Spam Museum?

To be neighborly.

Since 2001, the Spam Museum welcomed visitors first from a spot in a local mall and later from a building attached to Hormel corporate headquarters, just off Interstate 90.

But stopping at the museum didn’t require a drive through Austin (population: 25,000), which meant most visitors never ventured into the town’s historic shop and restaurant-filled downtown.

So when it came time for a new and bigger spot for the museum, members of Vision 2020 – a community group working to improve the quality of life in Austin by the year 2020 – urged Hormel to move the museum to Austin’s Main Street.

Hormel agreed. And now finishing touches are being put on the Spam Museum, which has scheduled its soft opening for April 22 and a grand opening in July as part of Hormel’s 125th anniversary celebration.

SPAM production line