Yakima Valley Museum

Museum Monday: Hidden Treasures you might wish you could see

We visit museums to see rare, wonderful and unusual objects on display. But most museums have room to exhibit just 10 percent of their holdings. The rest rarely — or never — sees the light of day. Unless, that is, you have a key to the back rooms where they keep hidden treasures like the ones I found for a slide show on Bing Travel.

Here are some of the highlights from that story.

In the United States, flea circuses were once regular features in carnivals and sideshows. This diorama in the collection of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in Indiana features four fleas (heads only) in a village scene and is mounted in a hazelnut that is encased in a matchbox. According to a museum staff member, the tiny diorama is kept in storage because “people would have to line up to see it and it would be difficult for a family to view together.”

This pretty but rarely displayed quilt in the collection of Washington’s Yakima Valley Museum was made in 1928 by the wife of a berry farmer and has a story far more complicated than meets the eye. According to the note that came with the donation, the white fabric in the background came from masks once worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, Mass., displays 3,200 hand-crafted glass models of flowering plants created between 1886 and 1936 by German glass artists Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka. Not on display are the university’s 430 Blaschka glass models of marine invertebrates, such as this glass model of a Portuguese man of war, which Harvard acquired in the late 19th century.

For more hidden treasures, check back tomorrow.