What are you curious about? Do you gaze at the stars and wonder if on some distant planet, another life form is peering your way too? Does an inanimate object send your mind reeling, wondering how ancient civilizations had the wherewithal to develop the tools and equipment to insure their people flourished? Is it difficult for you to drive past an old barn or stately church without thinking about the countless memories the walls of the buildings have protected all these years? Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” If you are a curious person, then you thrive on discovery and learning.
On September 22, Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day allows people in all 50 states the opportunity to experience museums free of charge. What a wonderful opportunity to immerse your children, and yourself, in the artifacts and preserved culture of our forefathers. For young learners, hands on exposure like this is a priceless gift. And for parents, who are the most prominent educators in their young lives, finding worthwhile activities that don’t break the family’s budget is a huge bonus.
What will you discover on Museum Day? Friends in Michigan can explore the deep-rooted Chippewa Indian culture that so richly influenced the Great Lakes region. Texas residents can learn more about the Alamo and other significant battles that occurred on their land. Our Georgia neighbors can learn about the Civil War and Antebellum period with artifacts depicting the difficult and deadly paths others have forged on our behalf. All over the country, the curiosity of millions of Americans will be piqued including Floridians, who have a vast number of museums available to visit free of charge. Locally, The Ringling and South Florida Museum will be participating in Museum Day.
The Ringling has evolved as a cultural compound in the heart of Sarasota. Recently, I was reminded of how special this place is as I spent a lazy afternoon meandering the grounds with my children and a friend. I never realized all the beauty that surrounds you as you find quaint sitting areas under old oak trees offering amazing vistas of the bay. Wandering from room to room in the art museum, each laid out with stunning examples of artifacts spanning hundreds of years, is a mesmerizing experience. From gold-laden grand pianos to beveled mirrors carefully etched with cherubs, the extensive collections first curated by John and Mabel Ringling are breathtaking and educational to the viewer. The Ca’ d’Zan offers an intimate peek into high society back in the hay days of Sarasota. You cannot help but wonder what would have become of this special city had John Ringling decided to winter someplace else. The palatial pink palace forever serves as a monument to his importance to the area. The Circus Museum which houses a 44,000 Howard Bros. Circus Model and The Greatest Show on Earth mural is a fun walk through for all. Also situated on the 66-acre bayfront property is a research library and conservation laboratory. For Museum Day, entry to the Circus Museum, including Tibbals Learning Center and The Museum of Art will be free of charge. Additionally, guests may stroll the grounds and enjoy the Playspace area.
South Florida Museum is the leading natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Located in Bradenton, this facility is also the home of the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Aquarium and Bishop Planetarium Theater. You can enjoy all of these for free on Museum Day. South Florida Museum will also be spotlighting a Pathways Tour, so visitors can learn about women who were pioneers of their time and free viewings of “Shark Girl” will take place throughout the day.
Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day takes place on September 22 so don’t miss the opportunity to quench your sense of curiosity. What an educational gift for your family and with free admission to local museums you can top off a great afternoon with lunch or dinner in support of our local restaurants. Where will your curiosity take you? For more information on Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day, please visit smithsonianmag.com .
Photos courtesy of The Ringling and South Florida Museum Facebook pages.