Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Becoming a local tourist, vol. 1: History

Whether or not you find yourself with bored youngsters or need an interesting place to bring a date (on a budget), consider researching your local historical associations. The maintenance of age-old properties often offers you the chance to learn more about your city or town.

The Milwaukee County Historical Society operates several properties, including a farm, that brings the past back to life for those who visit. Their main center also offers periodic exhibits to the public (not currently due to renovations that will end in August 2010). Surrounding counties, like Washington, Waukesha, and Racine counties, also have museums and other properties of note operating most if not all year, giving you the opportunity to expand knowledge of the area.

Milwaukee is also home to the Northpoint Lighthouse, a fixture in the city since the 1870's after it replaced the original lighthouse built two decades before.

My mother was born and raised in Mower County, Minnesota. Though not nearly as populated as the city she currently lives in, the area is still rich with history, including a GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall built in 1891 for use by the fraternal order made up of sixteen Civil War veterans and the Women's Relief Corps. This is one of only two still in existence in Minnesota. Spring Valley, in neighboring Fillmore County is home to the Wilder homestead, the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder's husband, Almanzo.

From somewhere else? Consider Googling your county or parish's history and see if they have a historical society and what they might have to offer.

Admissions tend to be on the cheaper end of the scale, less than the cost of a movie, if not being free altogether.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Learning Experience

A friend of mine invited me to visit the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University a few weeks ago to see an interesting exhibit of Thomas Woodruff's Freak Parade. This particular museum is free to the public and is a great way to spend some time on a lazy afternoon. You can free your wallet of a few bucks by offering a donation in the name of art at the door, but this isn't required (much like Como Park Zoo and Conservatory).

It turns out that there are a number of universities around the country that also feature museums on a variety of subjects, from science to culture. Not all of these museums are free, but admissions tend to be less than other larger or more well known museums in your area. Furthermore, you're contributing to the advancement of that particular museum through your donations.

To get more information about these types of museums, consider Googling universities in your area. Another way to find these museums is to visit the Association of College & University Museums & Galleries website and then Googling a particular museum (unfortunately there are no direct links from this website).


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