new bedford whaling museum, massachusetts.

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The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a replica of a whaling ship inside it called the Lagoda, complete with sails, ship wheel, and lifeboats. It’s scaled to 50%, making it perfectly sized for children and the-occasional-20-something-photographer-when-no-one-else-is-around.

 

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Days 49 & 50: MIM & PRICE.

MIM
On Saturday I set off an adventure with my camera in the morning. I wanted to knock something off my bucket list, so the Museum of Musical Instruments it was. I wandered from West of the city center all the way to Parc Royale and the museum (Note, this long walk is important later.)

jenclinton/08052013aFrom MIM’s website: “Besides the well-known Scottish version, many more countries appear to have their own type of bagpipes, Tibetan monks make musical instruments out of the bones of their deceased colleagues, and African slit drums are the local form of Twitter.”

I don’t know what genius decided the concept for MIM but I’m kind of in love. You get a little transponder thing in your language of choice when you walk in, and there are markings on the floor that you stand on in front of most of the instrument displays. Once you’re in the right place, you hold the transponder to your ear, so you actually hear what the instrument sounds like! I mean really. That’s the point of an instrument right? It was so simple it was obvious, but it sort of blew my mind when I realized what the deal was, haha. So clever.

Many of the pieces were from Eastern Europe (lots of Romania), and most were instruments I’d never heard of. I apologize in advance for picture quality but lighting was definitely not conducive to picture taking, not with my little camera dude anyway. Let’s give out some superlatives, shall we?

Creepiest :

Yikes! That would be a skull drum and a femur horn. I thought a femur flute would be a great alliteration but would be decidedly less intimidating in battle I suppose.

Yikes! That would be a skull drum and a femur horn from Tibet.

Most ornate:

I'd be too afraid to even hold this thing, never mind play it.

I’d be too afraid to even hold this thing, never mind play it. She’s so dainty.

Most BA to play (listen to it here):

the SERPENT from RUSSIA.

the SERPENT from RUSSIA, distant cousin of the tuba.

Most difficult to play:

no WAY is that a one person instrument! holy lung capacity. maybe it comes with a reverb pedal or something, haha.

no WAY is that a one person instrument! holy lung capacity. maybe it comes with a reverb pedal or something, haha.

Best Smile:

:D!

:D!

Best Dressed:

from romania, circa 2007. (that threw me.)

from romania, circa 2007. (that threw me.)

Most “what the?” moment:

"it's a little weird that we're blowing into animal intestines, ya? let's cover it in fur so it's less conspicious. much better."

“it’s a little weird that we’re blowing into animal intestines, ya? let’s cover it in fur so it’s less conspicious. much better.”

Personal favorite:

phish guitar?

phish guitar?

I will say this though, I did enjoy the museum but it would  be much better for you if you have a pretty deep-seated appreciation for classical music. I only appreciate it in small doses, usually when working, which is not something pleasant to think about on a free Saturday afternoon. That’s probably why the nature museum was the one for me. 🙂

On the walk back I took a few more pictures of the city. Isn’t she pretty?

PRICE
So Sunday was designated write-your-damn-thesis day. It went, eh. Okay. I took a break go to the insanity that is Garde du Midi on a Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately as I was walking through the crowd my right knee just gave out for no reason at all. I’m like, hello old lady. I was able to put weight on it fine so I kept on keeping on. I actually got some delicious food today, look look! And aside from the provolone I didn’t spent more than… seven euro?

pêche, pastèque, fraises

pêche, pastèque, fraises

carottes, fromage feta, fromage provolone, persil

carottes, fromage feta, fromage provolone, persil

When I got back to my work space I tried to stretch my legs out to the chair on the other side of the table. OWWWW OWOW OW. So I can walk on it but I can’t straighten it. Gah. My several-knee-surgeries boyfriend suggested a strained tendon and PRICE – pressure, rest, ice, compression elevation. It’s not swollen or anything, and I’m sure it’s from walking so much in not-made-for-distance-walking shoes. Just PLEASE no crutches, they don’t have normal ones here. Everyone uses the hand ones and not the underarm ones and excuse the vanity but it would make me look all the more pitiful.

Sad face. I should probably wear my sneakers to work for a while. I’ll be the only one in BRUSSELS wearing running shoes, I think even the women who run wear cute flats at the very least, haha. Ah well. Body says slow down, you better darn well listen.

Day Twenty Eight: Natuurwetenschappen

Or the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, I should say. I took my six year old self to the museum armed with a student ID, an empty afternoon, and my camera. Let me just tell you. GAH I fell in love with their little Arctic display. I’ll show you. Warning, tons of pictures. Too late, you’re already here. Here’s a peek.

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First let me explain why I went. A few months ago I came across this little youtube channel called The Brain Scoop. A grad student in Montana, Emily Graslie, talks all about ecology and evolution and why animals are the way they are. She worked in the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at her university, including helping to prepare animals for their collection. Taxidermy! What makes her story so amazing, besides the whole women-in-science-girl-power-thing, is that her little vlog blew up big time. She just landed a job at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History (big leagues!) as their cultural ambassador. Smart, smart museum they are. Her videos have changed my outlook on museums, especially for natural history. I had to go and see how the Belgians did it! I wanted to ask a million questions about their animals, where the whale bones came from and why did someone donate a tortoise and what happens when their elephant finally falls apart. I didn’t know how to ask in French, and seeing as only the first floor of the museum had english translations, I didn’t know if I’d even be able to understand the answers.

REGARDLESS. I loved this quirky little museum.

They’re really big on iguanodons, as there was a major discovery of them in a Belgian mine.

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look at those plates! and spikes! you’re so odd, evolution

I played with an interactive, attacks-you-when-you-move dinosaur, and I got to draw my own Jurassic creature. (He was kind of ugly, but I’m okay with it.) Instead of going up one flight of stairs like a normal person, I scooted all the way up to the top because I too excited for the hall of WHALES. They’re the best. The skeletons were massive of course.

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And they had this quirkly little diorama/book of whale facts. I took a picture of every page.

But it turns out that the whale room was not even my favorite. To get there, you had to walk through the section on the Arctic and Antarctic. You know those aquariums with tunnel tanks? The ones you have to walk through and you’re surrounded by fish and reefs and anemones? Well it looks like that was the original intention but someone realized that stuffed animals require far less maintenance.

Behold! The life-size Arctic diorama.

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I didn’t know whether to laugh at the earnestness of it, or just soak it in as art. I nearly teared up at any rate. NARWHALS, guys. And there were polar bears and walruses and penguins and puffins and an intimidating looking leopard seal. (This section in particular I wanted to ask about the background of the inhabitants.) This little vignette was one of my favorites – don’t go towards the light little dude!

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Back downstairs, I wandered through the biodiver-city exhibit. Urban ecology was one of my first exposures to environmental studies as a career field, and the backyard-biologist thing is great for kids.

There was a hall dedicated to shells too, but the light was a little wonky for picture taking.

The only no-talking room in the museum was full of tarantulas and cockaroaches. I imagined them trading stories about the obnoxious tourists that wouldn’t shut up. This one had a really messy room.

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I would love to learn more about this process, too: the museum had a little corner dedicated to what animals WILL evolve into, fifty million years from now. This was a capybara in the future. He looks straight out of the Avatar set.

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This little stick was one of the earliest indications that humans could do math! It’s like an early ruler, sort of. I wonder if they hated math as much as we seem to now.

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The mascot of the museum was their beloved elephant, a former resident of the Brussels Zoo He was stuffed in the 19th century (!) and restored in 2007, so he’s got quite a patina, shall we say?

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All in all, I learned a lot and am happy to check this one off my Brussels Bucket List. Thanks R-BINS!

Day Eleven: Le Chat Noir

Have you ever tried Meetup.com? I’ve used it once before back home, and I’d rate the experience 6/10. I had a much better time with the people I came with rather than meeting people who shared common interests. I decided to give it another go in Brussels, as they have an expat group meeting at the Musée d’Ixelles. My expectations were:

– To meet some young expats. American a bonus but not necessary.
– To meet someone to trade “can you BELIEVE they do that here!” stories with.
– To trade said stories in English.
– To enjoy some lovely art in the most cultured corner of the world.

See, the thing about expectations though…

– I was the youngest person there by psh, twenty years.
– I didn’t meet a single American. They were all European expats that I overheard talking. Which, like I said – bonus but not necessary.
– But in fact I didn’t meet anyone at all, as the group dispersed to take in the museum at their own pace. Which meant, if I so chose, I could walk up to someone and say HI my name is, and they’d be all, 0_o ?? becuase they might not be with our group.
– I didn’t hear a single person in the museum speaking English anyway.
– The French labels describing the different paintings were in way more advanced language than I have at my disposal. I found a packet that generally described why the rooms flowed the way they did, and why the Belgian artists were breaking from the traditional French styles, so I read that as I walked along.
– French artists, I’ve got your back. Matisse, Manet, Gaugin… infinitely better in my (however uncultured it may be) opinion.

Literally. Look at this thing. Who? The what? No.

Anyway, I appreciate what Meetup does, and maybe I’ll try it with des amies in the future. And it was cool to see some Toulouse-Lautrec pieces, the original Chat Noir, and posters from Jules Cheret, so thank you for that Ixelles. (You’ll recognize these Moulin-Rougey pictures from… every college poster sale.)

But I think I’ll stick with exploring the parks of Brussels this summer for now!

king leopold

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