Monday, March 17, 2008

A Day Spent Musing

I had known about the existence of the Art Museum but I'd never gotten around to inspecting it, but discovering that there was also a Museum of History was a complete surprise. I did circle the park again and meant to check out the zoo for a little while, but either it wasn't open yet or that day or I found something else to distract me before I found an open entrance. At any rate I went to the History Museum.

It was an impressive place, complete with gift shop and upscale eatery, with a few special exhibits requiring admissions in addition to the bulk of the museum's historical offerings. The bad thing about the place was the parking...there was only a little of it near the building, and that was complicated with one-way channeling and scary roundabouts. If you went to the back before finding a slot, you'd end out on the main street outside of the park, where due to road construction or something, it was traffic hell. Consequently it also took some time and effort to turn around and get back into the park to try again. After going on that merry-go-round a few times, I just parked on a side road. It was a good walk from the museums and my feet were already making me wince, but at least it was a spot easy to get to and see.

I explored the place best I could, including the gift shop. I didn't go into any of the special exhibits since I really wanted to see as much as possible (if I paid for something I'd feel obligated to absorb every crumb of information, unless it's really grand, well, I'm just cheap, heheh). A good part of the museum was devoted to the (1904) World's Fair...the park was once the fair grounds and the buildings, etc. a part of that. Ah. Lots of early twentieth-century stuff. I can relate. Hemisfair Plaza in downtown San Antonio is similar. Well, that one was in 1968, but space-wise it's a fair-days remnant...

There was also a monument or so to Thomas Jefferson... TJ's democracy and freedom themes are honored in many St. Louis monuments (Jefferson Memorial Gateway Arch, for example).

He makes for a handsome statue, indeed.

There were other statues and intriguing tidbits; there was a room on Lindbergh and, naturally, the Spirit of St. Louis. In fact one of the special exhibits was about the history of flight, I think.
Flying overhead, a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. I toured the Lindbergh room, but did not opt for the whole history of flight exhibit. There was plenty on other things, stuff about St. Louis proper, exploration and history of the area (Lewis & Clark, etc.)...and there was an interesting room exhibit of American wedding dresses throughout time. No flash allowed and it was a very dark room, so I didn't bother with pictures. I didn't think it'd be too interesting at first, but some of the dresses were pretty old and did have some intriguing histories attached to them. There was a tour group of Red Hat ladies going through, so I caught a little extra info here and there. A few dresses were quite pretty, some were simply practical, the 1970's lace pantsuit was actually very was something to find out that a white wedding dress was a very new concept as far as the bridal gown went. Apparently anything would do, but blues and greens were preferred for the most part.

When I figured I'd had enough St. Louis history, I hobbled back to the car and found my way to the Museum of Art. This sat majestically on a hill overlooking a large and long reflecting pool with fountains, which some folks were getting ready to use as the backdrop for a wedding, it seemed, judging from all the tuxed types and limos and folding chairs at the bottom of the hill. A regal statue of St. Louis guarded the front of the art museum.

Dramatic view of the Missouri Saint. Well, the statue. Not the actual fellow.

Missouri Museum of Art. The special exhibit was on Napoleon. As it was I barely had time to run through the museum, much less tour the special exhibit, though. There were several floors, too. I even recognized a number of pieces as well as the artists. They had a maybe-Rembrandt or two, the dancer statue by Degas, one of Monet's big waterlily works, and several other well-known items. And many not-so-well-known but still fascinating pieces in their collections, including furniture, weaponry, and a variety of other types of artistic creations.

But they had to close up before I could finish, so I ran through some areas to "skim" through and finally left the premises, taking a few parting shots before leaving the park. I still had to find gas, which took some time since I didn't see any stations on the immediate route I was taking, and wound up finding it well off on Watson Road of all places (which I also found later to be the address of a company used by the library I work in). Small world, eh? At any rate by early evening I bid St. Louis adieu.

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