Thursday, May 03, 2007

Industry Visionary

Living in the Baltimore/Washington area is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to museums, which sometimes means smaller quirkier places get overlooked. The south side of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has two such places, the Museum of Industry and the American Visionary Art Museum. If you are driving down Key Highway on your way to Fort McHenry you may miss them entirely.

Last Saturday, my son has a competition for an engineering class at the Museum of Industry which is a large converted factory on the waterfront. When the event was over I talked him into going to AVAM to check out the truly bizarre artwork they have there. The juxtaposition made me realize that the two museums had more in common than one would think. Here are some examples:

The Front Door

Large Object In Courtyard

Huge Crane

Abandoned Stuff

Sunken Ship

Ball of Bras

Competition Being Sponsored on May 5

Story Theme Park Ride Challenge
Elementary school kids design and build a theme park ride based on their favorite book. The sculpture must include moving parts showing how the ride works.

The Kinetic Sculpture Race
Art school drop-outs design and build enormous vehicles out of recycled materials that have to go around and across the Inner Harbor without falling apart.

As fate would have it, I will be back at the Museum of Industry this weekend which is along the Kinetic Sculpture course. I hope to get pictures and/or video of both events. Come out and enjoy the fun.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: What is your favorite obscure museum?


Anonymous said...

The Visionary is a simply wonderful museum. Amber and I take out-of-town folks there all the time and they are constantly blown away. The best thing about it is that virtually the whole musuem is reworked for a new theme each year ... there's only a very small part of it that is the permanent collection.

And we actually got married at the Museum of Industry! They were great to work with and it was a really wonderful spot. They even let guests wander around the musuem during the reception, which my nieces and nephews love. The enormous sign facing the water in that first picture is new, though -- it wasn't there for our wedding in Sept. of 2005. We were actually there for a fundraiser last month -- the first time we had been back since our married -- and found the sign rather startling (it lights up at night!). Good to see the hefty fee we paid to rent the place didn't go to waste.


Anonymous said...

Practically every town in Germany has a Heimatmuseum (home town museum) and many of them are surprisingly well done. Probably the most obscure museum I've heard of is the rat museum in Strasbourg (I think; you'd sort of expect it to be in Hamelin). I've never been there, but my daughters have and they say it's cool.

The old Southwest Museum in LA was really cool way back when. It focuses on Native American stuff. Unfortunately, the building is falling apart after the last couple of earthquakes and it is no longer open.

Impetua said...

I went to the Museum of Ham in Spain... I think it was in Madrid.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

MN has the Johnson Twine Ball which is the claimed biggest ball of twine built by a single person. Does that count?

Otherwise, Minneapolis just remodeled the Walker Art Center which is pretty cool, albeit a bit spendy.

Anonymous said...

I have two.

One is the Sony Wonder Technology Lab at 56th and Madison in Manhattan, which is free of charge and gives you an overview of technology through the last hundred years or so.

The other is the Mutter Museum, in Philadelphia. (Picture an umlaut over the "u" in "Mutter".) It's basically a museum of pathology which is open to the public. Their tagline is "Disturbingly Informative" and they're not kidding; this place is not for the squeamish.

Sue T. said...

Ever checked out Baltimore's Great Blacks in Wax museum? I trust it's still around... I went there shortly before I moved, so it would be about 10 yrs. ago. I'm bummed I never got to see the Visionary museum!