I thought it might be nice to share a glimpse of my academic and future professional world with you. The museums listed here are some of my favorites, for various reasons. Some of them are obvious choices, but others are small, hidden treasures. Most of them have warranted multiple visits, and are places I know I will continue to return to, year after year.
I plan to keep adding to this list.
I’ll start off with home sweet home, of course!
- The Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor
A Smithsonian affiliate, the Abbe Museum is focused on “inspiring new learning about the Wabanaki Nations.” The downtown Bar Harbor location is bright, open, and beautiful (seriously, it’s a great interior), and the original trailside building at Sieur de Monts Spring is open spring through fall. This Museum has an active relationship with its community, and I like that a lot.
- Portland Museum of Art, Portland
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
During my year at MassArt (a stone’s throw away from the MFA), the Museum’s Asian and Islamic art galleries served as a second home. The MFA has expanded quite a bit since my original visits in 2003, and remains one of my favorite art museums.
- The New England Aquarium, Boston
- The Woodman Institute, Dover
I have to mention The Woodman Institute in Dover, New Hampshire, because it’s such an unexpected local gem. The main Museum building is home to both an extensive mineral and taxidermy collection, including what happens to be known as the last eastern cougar ever captured in the state of New Hampshire (circa 1853). There are also a couple great Victorian mourning pieces in the collections at The Hale House. This is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
- The Fairbanks Museum, Saint Johnsbury
The Fairbanks Museum is special because it occupies a large space in my memories of childhood. The building itself is spectacular, and the collections are typical of the late 19th century. The Fairbanks is (unexpectedly) home to the entire collection of John Hampson’s “Bug Art” mosaics, which I was obsessed with as child. The Museum’s display cases are brimming. Take your time with this one.
- The Shelburne Museum, Shelburne
Shelburne Museum requires a full day, at least. I have been 20 times over the years (probably), and I always discover something new.
The Smithsonian Museums seem like such an obvious choice, but they are really spectacular. The Freer and Sackler galleries house the Smithsonian collection of Asian art, and should be included on any “must visit” list. They stand out among everything we saw on our first visit to the city. On my second (solo) visit to DC in 2013, I visited the National Museum of American History and wept over Julia Childs’ copper pots. I’m a little sensitive. You can read about that trip here.
We visited the National Postal Museum on that first trip to DC in 2012, strictly so I could see Owney, but it ended up being a surprising gem of a site.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Do you have a favorite museum? Tell me your recommendations.
angelica, borage, hyssop
Planting these herbs will not only help our beloved pollinators, but will also pull double duty around the home. When choosing herbs that are ready grown instead of planting from seed, be sure to purchase your plants from an organic supplier. Some plants are cultivated with insecticides that are toxic to bees. Simple, “old-fashioned” varieties of plants are a better choice for bees than highly cultivated ones (via). These plants will provide food and habitat for a number of insect species, not just bees.
Also good choices: fennel, mints, sages and rosemary.
In addition to helping out the bees, these herbs have many different uses for us people, too. Comfrey in particular has great healing power, and can be made into a multipurpose salve. Catmint can be planted to help repel mosquitoes; we’ve planted a bunch around our back deck (it explodes, so be wary). Both lavender and lemon balm have incredible calming effects, and are two of my favorite herbs to have around.
Also, to be perfectly honest, I’m excited about some of these plants because they add color and depth to cocktails. A number of these beauties are used to create a wide range of bitters and syrups. Before you experiment, make sure whatever plant you’re using is safe to consume! Of course!
If you’re unsure about how to get the most out of your herb garden, I recommend finding a book. This is a good starting point (Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use). The Hedgewitch Book of Days by Mandy Mitchell is currently on its way to me. ♥
I still have the two tank tops I bought when Simka Sol was Bark Decor (Astral Teepee and Wolf Totem, which have both been seen briefly on the blog, on my torso). Sara’s business has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years, and I will forever be in love with her handmade (right here in New England) pieces. You can purchase Simka Sol on etsy or shop the Spring/Summer collection here.
These are some new favorites. I am obsessed with the “Oracle” print. I’m not sure if you can tell.
Read more about Simka Sol here.
Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum of Science in Boston for the day. I took the Down-easter into the city, and took advantage of my membership to the New England Museum Association. My purpose was mostly academic (I am writing an exhibit critique for class), but for the majority of my visit, I had the hands-on science exhibits to myself. A little girl shoved me out of her way at one point to learn about dinosaurs in a button-smashy kind of way, but I was cool.
My main goal for the day was to spend some time with Water Stories at MOS. I love, love, love the idea of art and science colliding, and having smart, challenging, beautiful babies. There are so many opportunities to bring these two worlds together (I haven’t told you about the Mütter, yet, aaahh!). As a museum nerd, I’m excited to see it happen “locally.” And, as an occasional artist, I was inspired by Anne Neely’s work. I don’t necessarily want to work in an art museum in the future, but I’d love to be a part of future exhibits like this one! Of course, if an art museum wanted me, you can be assured I would jump on the opportunity, I just see myself being happier at a history or anthropology museum.
By the way, locals, if you haven’t been to the Museum of Science in the last five to ten years, you should go! They’ve refreshed old exhibits, and added some new ones. And yes, in case you were wondering, you can still smell the animals of New England dioramas. I understand how important that is. I feel you. It’s a classic.
So let’s talk about writing academically versus writing for a blog. Because it’s so different. Is that obvious? I want to hash it out a little, here.
Sometimes I have a hard time with it, because the voice of this blog has been determined. How do I stick to that? I want it to be honest, sometimes smart, nice to look at, a little funny, and accessible. People (bloggers) always talk about writing the blog you would want to read, but if I’m honest, I read a wide range of internet content, and some of it is total garbage. As an academic, I don’t feel comfortable writing garbage. But, and kind of a big but, girldust isn’t meant to be an academic or research blog. I will tell you that I am extremely thankful for the loose definition of “lifestyle blog.” I can more or less do whatever I want, be who I am, and hopefully, eventually, there will be a handful of people I connect with.
You can get away with quite a lot when it comes to writing for a personal blog. Good spelling and grammar are important to me, but blogging actually allows me to use a more colloquial style, which I think is a lot of fun. I can choose to write how I might speak if you were here; I can use different style of language than I would when writing a paper for school, as long as it’s more or less appropriate for my message. I can have one sentence paragraphs if I want. Heck, I could use a bunch of hashtags. I won’t. I could.
TL;DR: there’s a lot of freedom in blogging. If you want there to be.
There’s the freedom to decide you don’t want that freedom. Blah blah etc.
I was a little worried, when I began taking graduate classes, that I would have a difficult time switching back and forth. It turns out that, after having an online presence for over a decade, I’ve had more than enough experience juggling; it’s not switching voices that’s difficult, it’s simply finding the time.
So today I made a little time.
I am reluctantly returning to the real world after spending a few short days in the mountains and surf of Acadia. I don’t really have words. It was beautiful.
his & hers (We spent the first full day biking the carriage trails.)
view of The Bubbles from Jordan Pond House
view of The Bubbles from carriage trail
Seawall (We camped at Seawall; this was across the road from the campground.)
Timothy at Eagle’s Crag (We hiked this loop on the way up Cadillac.)
view from Eagle’s Crag
descent, Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail
view of Sand Beach from Great Head Trail
along Great Head Trail
view towards Sand Beach from Otter Cliffs
I tried to take some photos at Thunder Hole, but nothing came out particularly well. Friday hosted holiday weekend crowds, but we did hit the perfect combination of high tide and post-storm surf.
treasures (stones and bird skull pendant from Rock & Art Shop, Bar Harbor)
We spent Saturday morning wandering around Bar Harbor and visiting the Abbe Museum before leaving Mount Desert Island behind.
So long, summertime. Keep your fingers crossed.
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here.