The Reference Treasure Hunt

Arms and armor at the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

Arms and armor at the Peabody Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

I’ve always loved a good museum trip. Even at a young age when the rest of my classmates raced through exhibits, I was the last one left behind reading every placard. A great exhibit really transports the viewer into the subject matter. Well designed informative exhibits, whether they are about marine life in the Pacific Ocean or the history of Jewish peoples in Poland, equally entrance me.

Like many others, I visit museums most often while traveling. There is always a bit of tension when visiting exhibitions while on holiday in that it’s nearly impossible to see the entirety of the exhibition in the time available. Inevitably, choices must be made as to which exhibitions to appreciate and which to pass up.

I used to always hit the art exhibits the most and gloss over anything that sounded like culture or history. However, I have recently developed a taste for the anthropological displays. For starters, they are a perfect place to capture reference imagery, especially the displays on arms and armor. Also, anthropological exhibits rarely ban photography, unlike art exhibits where the restriction is common. Here are some of the most intriguing pieces that I’ve stumbled across:

From the Peabody Museum.

From the Peabody Museum.

From the Peabody Museum.

From the Peabody Museum.

From the National Museum of Warsaw, Poland.

From the National Museum of Warsaw, Poland.

From an exhibit in Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria.

From an exhibit in Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria.

From an exhibit in Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria.

From an exhibit in Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria.

Of course, I still love the art exhibits. There is nothing so powerful as an original work from a great master. Given that there is never enough time, I have a few pieces of advice to really get the most out of a museum:

  1. Check out the institutions web site to see which exhibitions are permanent and which are temporary.
  2. Pack a snack so you don’t have to leave for lunch.
  3. Bring a camera and always ask about the photo policy.
  4. If in a group, schedule a meeting time to check in. Its better than being distracted by a pinging phone.
  5. Finally, if the place warrants it – plan a return trip!
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