The latest from the SFO Museum

If you miss your flight at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) blame it on the curators of the SFO Museum.

At any one time, there are perhaps 20 top-notch exhibitions on view throughout the terminals, spanning everything from vintage radios and Victorian wallpaper to all manner of aviation history.

And each exhibit will make you want to stop and stay a while.

One of the newest exhibitions, Recollections… From the Unkown Museum, on display through March 2024 in Terminal 2, offers selections and creations culled from a quirky collection of vintage pop culture artifacts.

A well-known ‘secret’ museum in Mill Valley, CA since the mid-1970s and now artist Mickey McGowan’s private collection, the Unknown Museum is filled with a mass amount of objects dating from the 1940s to the 1980s. The museum is an “exploration into America’s brain” and a “complete immersion in conceptual art and American consumerism.”

Among other things.

 Recollections… from the Unknown Museum at SFO Airport is a sampling of the many fantastic art and object installations on display at various locations of the museum from the mid-1970s through the present.

“My original intent was to rescue these items, to provide them with a rest home for the remainder of their days,” museum curator and archivist Mickey McGowan said back in 1988.

Thank goodness he did.

Here are some snaps from the exhibit, courtesy of SFO Museum, and Mickey McGowan.

Visiting: Indiana Medical History Museum

“Are you SURE you want me to drop you off here?” the Uber driver said as she turned left onto the road to the abandoned-looking grounds of the former Central State Hospital near the west side of Indianapolis.

“This doesn’t look right.”

But that is exactly where were wanted to be.

Central State Hospital, which opened in 1848, was originally known as the “Indiana Hospital for the Insane,” and the grounds sprawled across 160 acres. During the 150 years the hospital was open, people diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia, depression (melancholia), and hysteria to alcoholism, and epilepsy were patients here.

The hospital’s Pathology Department building, which first opened in 1896 for the purpose of studying the conditions of the hospital patients, is now the Indiana Medical History Museum.

Courtesy IMHM

It’s also the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. And it still has much of its scientifically equipped interior intact.

Courtesy IMHM

We joined a tour that made stops in the teaching amphitheater, various laboratories, the library, the autopsy room, and the early-day anatomical museum which houses preserved specimens–mostly brains, organized by pathology.

Laboratory – courtesy IMHM

Here are some more images from the museum.

Autopsy table


Visiting: Indy’s Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum

Indy’s Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum, on East Tenth Street in Indianapolis, IND, is home to Tim Harmon’s collection of about 1000 items portraying or bearing the image of the Statue of Liberty.

The museum is about 10 feet by 16 feet (hence, “teeny”, says Harmon) and resides in the front room of a building created by enclosing an alley.

Harmon says his collection started innocently with a handful of Statues of Liberties arranged on the back of his toilet tank. “Then there was no reason to stop,” he said. “And when you collect you get a shelf, then you get a couple of shelves, then people start giving you things. And in my case, it was Statues of Liberties.”

And then it was Indy’s Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum.

“The museum’s not patriotic,” says Harmon. “The museum just is what it is. It’s a museum filled with Statues of Liberty.”

Here are some snaps from our tour of Indy’s Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum.

Statue of Liberty tape measure
Statue of Liberty door knob
Teeny Lego Statue of Liberty

Visiting: the World’s Biggest Children’s Museum

Courtesy The Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis dates back to 1925 and now, with more than 130,00 artifacts and more than 4,00 programs, is the world’s largest children’s museum.

Highlights include the Dinsophere, the historic carousel, a 55-ton steam engine, cultural exhibits, a 43-foot tall tower of Chihuly glass, an international space station exhibit, and a plethora of sports-themed, interactive outdoor exhibits.

If you visit, be sure to set a good part of your day, because it’s the kind of attraction that offers something surprising and engaging at every turn for both kids and adults.

Behind The Scenes At The Children’s Museum

Like most museums, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis can only display a very small part of its collection. And with such a large collection, that means that a lot of really great stuff is kept in storage.

Lucky for us, Chris Carron, the museum’s Director of Collections, offers occasional behind-the-scenes tours of the treasures.

Here are just a few of our favorites.

The Children’s Museum has the world’s largest collection of Mr. Potato Head memorabilia

Inside this matchbox is a diorama of a village populated with dress fleas. It is one of the smallest objects in the collection.

This Steiff bear was once used as a store display. It’s big, but the museum’s dinosaurs are far bigger.

February is Museum Month in Seattle & San Diego

If you love visiting museums, you probably love visiting museums for free.

(Who wouldn’t?)

And during February visitors to both Seattle and San Diego can take advantage of special Museum Month programs that offer great savings on museum visits.

Seattle Museum Month

February is Seattle Museum Month. And during this promotion, any guest who stays just one night at one of the participating downtown hotels receives a pass that offers half-price admission at more than 30 museums and attractions around the region.

The pass is good for up to 4 guests for the entire month.

In Seattle, the list of participating museums includes the Burke Museum, Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture, the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Flight, the Woodland Park Zoo, and many more. The participating hotels range from budget to swanky.

February is off-season in the Emerald City and there are already great hotel deals pretty much everywhere. Add in a pass that gets you half-off many of the museums and attractions in Seattle and other cities in the region and it’s just a super great deal.

That goes for locals seeking a ‘staycation’ or anyone considering a visit.

San Diego Museum Month

San Diego Natural History Museum – Fossil Mysteries

 San Diego Museum Month is back this February for its 34th year.

This year the popular program has more than 60 museums historic sites, gardens, aquariums, and other cultural destinations and attractions throughout San Diego County offering half-priced admissions all month.

In San Diego, the list of participating museums includes the Comic-Con Museum, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and dozens more.

The free San Diego Museum Month pass can be downloaded here.

Public libraries in San Diego County also have passes to distribute.

Each Museum Month pass can be used for up to four half-priced admissions at any of the participating museums until February 28, 2023.

Have fun!