Field Trip: The Menokin Girls Head to D.C.

Last week the Menokin Staff took a field trip into Washington, DC. The primary reason for our trip was to visit the National Building Museum. Our goal was to research their exhibits and come away with ideas for our Visitor’s Center and collection.

If you’ve never been to the National Building Museum, you might drive right past it. Looking suspiciously like a federal administration building, it was, in fact, constructed between 1882 and 1887,  for the purpose of serving as a fireproof headquarters of the U.S. Pension Bureau’s headquarters. In 1997, the historic building was officially renamed the National Building Museum.

However, it is anything but ordinary.

The interior of the building is dominated by a grand central space, the Great Hall. Measuring 116 x 316 feet, the Great Hall features a central fountain and is divided into three courts by two screens of four colossal Corinthian columns—among the tallest classical columns in the world.

As hard as it was to drag ourselves away from the grandeur of the Great Hall, our first stop, the House & Home Exhibit, was well worth it. This “kaleidoscopic array of photographs, objects, models, and films that takes us on a tour of houses both familiar and surprising, through past and present, challenging our ideas about what it means to be at home in America.” We came away from the exhibit with brains churning with ideas of how to use and display our unique collection of construction artifacts here at Menokin.

After a quick lunch in Chinatown (just a few blocks away), we headed up to President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home three miles north of downtown. Founded in 1851 as a home for retired and disabled veterans of American wars, the Soldiers’ Home stands on 276 acres atop the third highest area in the District of Columbia.

The tour focuses largely on the time that Lincoln spent at the Cottage during his presidency. The story is told by a tour guide in a friendly, conversational manor, with lots of questions directed at the audience.  The house itself is very stark. Little or no furnishings occupy the large rooms. There is not a great sense of the people that lived there, but the use of recorded actors recounting stories, reading letters and holding conversations in each room does lend insight to the kind of life that the Lincolns had there.

Both places are well worth the visit.

Go Wild!

Over half of the Menokin Foundation’s 500 acre property is part of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The extremely active and dedicated Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge Friends would like to invite you to participate in their annual Go Wild! event on Sunday, October 14th1-5 p.m.

This year’s event celebrates the 16th Anniversary of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge with the Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge FRIENDS. 

The event takes place at the Hutchinson Tract, 1.5 mi. north of Tappahannock off Highway 17N, and includes numerous activities including a silent auction, kayak trips, a guided eagle tour, beach jewelry, pistol lessons from Romi Klear, signed prints, rain barrels, books, and more! Please note: the silent auction closes at 4 p.m.

Events:  Kids “Birds and BinocularImages” scavenger hunt, adults and young adults scavenger hunt, nature walks, arts and crafts, storytelling, wildlife painting, build a birdhouse, free raffles.  Music by Ben Eberline.

FREE LUNCH!  Hot dogs, baked beans, cookies, cider and lemonade.

For more information, call 804-366-6851.

Sunday, October 14th, 10 a.m. – 12 noon – Guided kayak/canoe tour led by Gordon Page at the Mt. Landing Creek kayak/canoe launch on the Hutchinson tract of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, 1.5 mi. north of Tappahannock off Highway 17N. Bring your own kayak or canoe.  Must wear life vest.  For more information, call 804-366-6851.

Just in time for one last summer trip. . . .

I wonder why Menokin isn’t on this list? Even so, the entries are worth a look….and a vote!

Virginia Historical Society's Blog

Maybe you’ve already taken a big vacation for the summer, perhaps to an exotic place or maybe to the ever popular Outer Banks. But this summer you can’t miss out on voting for and visiting one or two places named on the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) nomination list for the Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.

VAM has created a program called Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in order to raise public awareness about the care of collections throughout Virginia, Washington, D.C., and beyond. Virginia’s Top 10 is not a grant-giving program. It is designed to offer museums, libraries, and archives an opportunity to raise media and public awareness about the ongoing and expensive care of collections. Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts’ nominees have the opportunity to promote their nomination during the public voting portion of this project. Public voting began on August 1st and will continue until August…

View original post 199 more words

“A Place Like No Other.”

Commentator Thea Marshall recently learned about a famous architect who’ll be putting back together again a famous pile of rubble.

Of course, the famous architect is Jorge Silvetti – of Machado and Silvetti Associates – and the famous pile of rubble is Menokin, a National Historic Landmark and the Commonwealth’s largest and most historic jigsaw puzzle.

This essay, as comfortable to listen to as a favorite tune, is chock full of information about Menokin – the place, the people who lived here, and what the future holds for this historic treasure.

http://ideastations.org/radio/archive/2012-07-25-menokin-redux

Thea Marshall is the author of “Neck Tales: Stories from Virginia’s Northern Neck,” published in June, 2009. Along with her professional writing assignments, she is a broadcaster, actor, and producer, with life long experience in all forms of communication – from print to theater to radio and television. She writes and broadcasts original commentaries on and about the people, places, history, culture and current issues relating to the Northern Neck for WCVE Public Radio (heard on both WCVE in Richmond and WCNV for the Northern Neck).

Suppertime at the Menokin Butterfly Garden

"THESE Tourists, heaven preserve us! needs must live
      A profitable life: some glance along,
      Rapid and gay, as if the earth were air,
      And they were butterflies to wheel about
      Long as the summer lasted..."

                            William Wordsworth

Monarchs, tiger swallowtails, dragonflies and hummingbird moths all came to feast on the beautiful flowers in the Menokin Butterfly Garden.

Planted by a local Boy Scout as his Eagle Scout Project, and maintained by a local chapter of the Master Naturalists, the garden has provided pleasure for the staff, visitors and wildlife of Menokin all season.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Find out how Menokin is rattling the chains of traditional house museum preservation and conservation.

http://tinyurl.com/9fspt25

Preservation and Place

The National Trust for Historic Preservation released this announcement of their receiving a grant to support an initiative to increase visitor engagement at historic house museums. You can read the press release here: National Trust Initiative to Innovate House Museum Model.

Some of my first museum memories are from historic house museums, they are what some call sticky memories. I don’t remember the whole day, but I remember the red exterior of Gilbert Stuart Birthplace, the amazing elevator in Gillette Castle, the opulence of Rosecliff Mansion (okay, so at least the last two aren’t so house-y, but they followed the model at least back then, and they were houses to some people). I was between 6 and 9 when I went to these places, and that I at least remember some facet of them 20 years later means that those running the museums and leading the tours are…

View original post 80 more words

%d bloggers like this: