Sunday, February 19, 2017

World War 1 Museum


KC Museum marks 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into WWI






The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City.




One section of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City shows the chronology of the war that lasted from 1914-1919. [Courtesy of Wayne Anderson]

The Horizon Theater at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City has a 110-foot screen overlooking a scene of four soldiers walking across a devastated landscape. [Courtesy of Wayne Anderson]
 

           This year marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war on Germany and subsequent participation in World War I. To commemorate the centennial, the Kansas City World War I Museum, with one of the largest collections of WWI artifacts in the world, will show special exhibits and presentations throughout the year.

            When walking toward the entrance, we crossed the glass floor with a field of poppies below us, which reminded us of the lines: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row", from the poem "In Flanders Fields," which suggests the horrendous loss of life - more than 17 million - during the war.

            An introductory movie described the accident that began the war. The Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, while visiting Sarajevo in Bosnia, was shot when his car took a wrong turn, putting him right in front of the spot where an assassin was standing. Both Ferdinand and his wife were shot, and a Browning .38-caliber short, similar to the murder weapon, is at the entrance to the museums' displays.

            At that time, Germany feared the power of France because of the devastation Napoleon had wrought in Europe. Powerful rulers, although often related through the offspring of Britain’s Queen Victoria, mistrusted each other. Nervous about other countries’ intentions, rulers formed alliances and agreed that if one went to war, the others also would enter the fray. Germany paired with the powerful Austria-Hungary empire and Russia with Serbia. France had an alliance with Russia and Britain with France.

            The conflict became known as World War I only after the start of World War II. Before then, it was known simply as the Great War.

            The East Gallery focuses on the history and weapons from the start of the war in 1914 to our entry in 1917. The West Gallery tells the story of the war from 1917 to its end in 1919 with heavy emphasis on the U.S. participation.

            In the first section, the rifles of each of the armies helped us understand the sheer number involved from around the world. Propaganda posters line the upper wall demonstrating how the troops were shown the importance of their participation.

            We were especially impressed with the models of trenches used on the European Western front where so many soldiers died. The Germans had well-built trenches that paid attention to the comfort of the troops by keeping their feet out of the water and providing better sleeping conditions.

            When we looked into a British trench, we could see trash and debris building up. French trenches were the worst - poorly built, often collapsing and generally getting so bad it was one of the reasons the troops mutinied.

            New weapons were being introduced to the troops, and one of the problems was that the major officers directing the battles did not take the modern weapons' efficiency into account. Troops were marched directly into machine gun fire that decimated them.

            The war eventually became trench warfare. By 1917, along the 460-mile Western Front, troops had dug 35,000 miles of trenches.

            Besides the deadly machine gun, new weapons included poison gas, fast-firing heavy artillery and, as the war progressed, airplanes and tanks. German submarines and their torpedoes sank ships at a heavy rate - their sinking of American ships is one of the reasons we entered the war. Battleships became major players in the sea war.

            The most impressive display resides halfway through the museum. We stood at a railing overlooking no-man's land with four mannequin soldiers, who were trying to avoid the mud and wreckage. In front of us was a 110-foot-by-20-foot screen.

            Abruptly, black-and-white moving pictures from the war appeared: original films from the period that showed trench warfare and the war at sea that eventually brought the United States into the war when Germany started sinking ships carrying supplies to the Allies.

            One of the defining events of our entry was the Germans attempting to get Mexico to start a war with the United States to keep us out of the war in Europe.

            The opening displays to the Western Gallery introduced us to the participation of women in the war as factory workers, guards, firefighters, and heavy machine operators. One section is devoted to the 25,000 American women who provided support to the troops in Europe. About 13,000 were in the Army or Marines, where they served as clerical help, while most of the others served as nurses. Their roles in the war helped advance women’s right to vote.

            While the East Gallery has a good collection of artillery weapons, the West Gallery is where we saw our first tank and truck along with a team of horses pulling weapons.

            Throughout the museum are small screen films of what was going on at home during the war, statistics about the number of deaths and what was happening in other parts of the world.

            Every attempt is made to make this a learning experience for the visitor, with special attention paid to children with the use of a family gallery guide where children can do scavenger hunts for items or find answers to questions such as, "Which four states sent the most soldiers from America 'Over There?' "

            At the end of tour we were informed of the failures of the treaty at Versailles and the redrawing of the world map that resulted from the war.

            While no one seemed to have anticipated that this war would set the stage for the start of a war 20 years later, the final exhibit notes that three of the most powerful leaders came out of this war with attitudes that would lead to World War II: Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin.

            On the Allies' side, future leaders involved were Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and an artillery captain from Missouri, Harry Truman.

            Atop the WWI Museum stand three structures: a high tower visitors can ride to the top to view Kansas City, a Memory Hall and an Exhibit Hall used for special and temporary exhibits.

            On our last visit in January, the Exhibit Hall had "They Shall Not Pass, 1916," the story of the death, destruction and the staggering number of unnecessary losses in the battles of the Somme and Verdun.


Reach Wayne and Carla Anderson a

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Traveling with Children


THE JOYS, BENEFITS & SURPRISES OF TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN

by Wayne & Carla Anderson

In the holiday season we asked our four daughters what memories they recall about the benefits, fun,  struggles and surprises about traveling with us until they finished  high school.

 They all stressed how much they learned about how people in various parts of our country and the rest of the world lived and had different  customs.

Jerilyn, our oldest daughter, especially enjoyed the year we lived three months each in four countries where she heard many stories in the museu
ms-- not just focusing on historical facts.   She did feel that "visits to any more cathedrals were more than a bit  too much"---so we listened and adapted.       

We were still in the days then of flat tires, running out of gas and emergency bathroom stops, sometimes in the nearest woods.  When Debra, daughter No. 2,  heard a long ago friend say, "If you don't like inconvenience, don't travel," she laughed and said that "traveling was a challenge that helped me improve my  problem solving skills.  I certainly learned how to use a map in planning trips--long before GPSs became available ."  

When Rosalyn, born exactly six years later than Debra, said that "Traveling broadened my mind about the differences in how other people lived.  I mostly had a great time, but I did have some concerns."  When she went to the third grade for three months in a small town in England, she missed a few recess times because she refused to eat the liver and cabbage offered.  She was also concerned that "I may lose my best friend if I am gone a year!"

When her sister Stephanie was in the first grade there, she was a little surprised to be called a Yankee. A rule that surprised her was that girls had to wear skirts, not slacks, unless the weather was bitter cold, but she coped rather easily.

When we were taking a long walk in the woods, she sat down in the middle of the path and said,  "I'm really getting tired of getting toughened in."  She came back to the U.S. with the cutest English accent.          

Both sisters enjoyed being surrounded by students-- a nice break from being home schooled as they lived in four countries in that year learning about Europe.    

Traveling with children gives them an opportunity to see and do things in the world in a way present digital equipment does not allow.  They may hold all the knowledge in the world in the palm of their hand, and be connected instantly with all of their friends but that kind of lifestyle does not include  the reality of skiing down a mountain, canoeing on a lake or cooking a meal over an open fire.

We discovered the joys of traveling with children with our first two daughters when we lived in Maryland on Chesapeake Bay.  In our free time we explored the east coast camping in a tent, cooking our food on a gas burner and bonding us as a family.

When we returned to Columbia in 1963, we shortly  added two more daughters and decided to add a travel trailer.  We started exploring the west: Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon and  Colorado with its ghost towns and skiing sites.

Wayne was able to take sabbaticals for a year each in 1972-73 and 1978-79 and several summers to teach for the U.S. Air Force in Europe-- eight different villages in five different countries.

We took folk marches with the natives in Germany and Italy and had them as next door neighbors.   In Italy we only had our two youngest daughters with us who were then 12 and 10.   Italy was their favorite country, because of the food, the friendly people and its multiple attractions especially Rome, Venice and Florence. Jerilyn and Debra were able to join us to see some of the Italian sites.

During this time we were also still traveling to visit family around the country and attending family reunions--one with our relatives in Sweden. 

We continue our travels with family members.  Rosalyn's children took a Road Scholar week with us in Northern Minnesota where we took the ropes course, canoed and learned how to navigate with a compass in the woods.  Stephanie's twin daughters have traveled with us frequently to Tennessee sites.

We are looking forward to continuing traveling as long as we can and having a Merry Christmas with our extended family.    



In Cork, Ireland we all had a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone, which gives you a special power with words.




In Holland we pretend to be an old fashioned Dutch family





With two of our daughters at the home my father was born in, in Sweden



Feeding the birds in Venice in St. Marks Square




In the early days we traveled by trailer

Pompeii: The Exhibtion


Pompeii exhibit offers a glance at ancient life frozen in time



As part of the exhibit, several casts are shown of people and animals in the last positions they held when Mount Vesuvius erupted Aug. 24, 79 A.D. Here, the cast of a man with a child in his arms is displayed.


                Wayne Anderson

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One of the most magical happenings in this world is that nature both can destroy a piece of land dramatically and preserve it in some way that astonishes us later.

            It was this feat that fascinated us as we explored “POMPEII: The Exhibition,” which will run through spring at Union Station in Kansas City.

            Even before entering, we were given a taste of what to expect. The hallway walls toward the entrance featured reproductions of paintings and frescos that once adorned walls of the Pompeii Romans, a level of art sophistication not to be achieved again for centuries.

            In the waiting area, a short film showed the comfortable lifestyle of richer citizens and their complete lack of foresight what was to happen to their city and its 11,000 people on Aug. 24, 79 A.D, when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

            The exhibit doors opened and we were introduced to first-century Roman Empire life. The exhibit’s first three quarters details Roman citizens’ lives — made more comfortable by the large number of slaves taken captive as Rome conquered Europe and Africa. Slaves earned their freedom by selling their services as cooks, doctors and gladiators.

            The area’s soil was richer than in the rest of Italy, enabling a steady diet of fruits, vegetables, fish and other seafood.

            One poster on display shared a recipe that used a favorite seasoning of Pompeii citizens, garum. Made from fermented crushed tuna and the intestines of moray eels in salt, the seasoning was enjoyed throughout the Roman Empire.

            Artifacts loaned from the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy illustrated the Pompeii artisans’ sophistication. Original weapons, lamps, jugs, furniture, medical instruments and tools used in their everyday life were shown. The fine work on the clay and metal lamps, and an accompanying audio tour also detailed the items and lifestyle of Pompeii citizens.



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As part of the exhibit, several casts are shown of people and animals in the last positions they held when Mount Vesuvius erupted Aug. 24, 79 A.D. Here, the cast of a dog is displayed as he defends the doorway to a house.



            Romans flaunted their wealth with elegant frescos on walls, mosaics covering floors and comfortable dining areas with sofas. They had a rule that dinner was always taken in groups of at least three and never more than nine, a tradition modeled after their relationships with their many gods.

            A wall-sized film showed drone footage of Pompeii, giving us a good idea of the size and condition of the present site that had been forgotten soon after the destruction. It was only 250 years ago that the site became a tourist destination.

            Another film showed how Mount Vesuvius erupted — the 24 hours of destruction began with earth shaking and rumbling, followed by spilling ash. Later, lava and more ash flowed, followed by rocks, gas and smoke. The finale was a dead city buried under 13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice, burying the site for 1,500 years.

            We walked into the room of the remains, where casts have captured the last moments of several Pompeii citizens and animals. The eruption happened so fast that people were captured while moving, creating long-lasting images of their final movements on Earth.

            When experts excavated the site, they used plaster to fill the voids in the ash layers that held the bodies in the positions they were in when they died. We saw a man on his back holding up a child, another sitting and covering his face with his hands, and a dog curled as if ready to defend the door he was guarding.

            The section also covered the gladiators of Pompeii, who seemed to function under less deadly rules of combat than those in Rome. There were fewer battles to the death and, if a gladiator was good enough, at some point he could buy his freedom.

            Other rooms introduced us to some of the secrets of the city, including prostitution, both legal and widespread. Many men preferred prostitutes since they often married for financial reasons, family connections and to have children. The prostitutes largely were slaves, and pornography was common.

            Watching nature destroy an entire city saddened us but learning the lifestyle of the ancient citizens was extremely interesting.

            In 1979, when our family was stationed in Italy with the U.S. Air Force, we visited Pompeii and Wayne was allowed, for a small fee, into a room where scenes of intercourse filled the walls.

            Our guide said all women, including Carla and her sister, were considered too sensitive to see such scenes.

            On the door of the Union Station gallery a warning was placed, telling families about what they were about to see and suggesting children should not be allowed in. Carla laughed that now women were allowed — another glass-ceiling broken.

            We enjoyed the “frozen in time” exhibits at both Union Station and in Pompeii, where 2.6 million people visit every year to see one of Italy’s main attractions.

           

Carla Anderson stands in front of a mosaic from Pompeii





A wall sized street scene from present day Pompeii

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mounds State Park: Anderson Indiana


MOUNTS STATE PARK: ANDERSON INDIANA

Early one morning we enjoyed walking the trails through the mounds area at the beautiful Mounds State Park, just outside of Anderson, Ind.    

The Adena tribe, the earliest Native Americans to construct  mounds here, were  primarily hunter-gatherers, but they also planted crops such as squash, gourds, sunflowers and maize. 

At the large Great Mound, the centerpiece created about 160 BC,  plaques explain its astronomical alignment related to learning the timing of the solstices and equinoxes.  



The Giant Mound has astronomical alignments to time solstices and equinoxes



The mounds were community gathering centers where religious rituals were performed and burials took place. A mound was usually built as part of a burial ritual, in which the earth of the mound was piled immediately atop the ashes of a burned mortuary building. In honor of the dead, tools, weapons, pottery and other clay items were involved with the burning and were buried with the dead.

 Some sources suggest that the Hopewell culture replaced the Adena around 100  BC.  Kelly, a state park ranger who is an archeologist, told us that others are  still working to understand the relationship between the Adena and Hopewell.   At this point they were not sure whether they were continuous or separate

 The Hopewell tribe continued the tradition of creating mounds, but were more sophisticated than the Adena in making objects. The Hopewell disappeared around 500 AD, with no clear explanation of what happened to them

They were both agriculturists and hunter-gatherers, but what was so remarkable was their trading range around the continent.

They had goods such as bear teeth and obsidian from the Rocky Mountains, mica from the Carolinas, seashells from the Gulf of Mexico, and copper from the upper Great Lakes.  Since they had no form of transportation but their feet, it meant some of them had to do a tremendous amount of walking. 

This also suggests that there was a great exchange of knowledge between the different Native American tribes and this allowed for some real advances in living styles as the knowledge from different cultures were exchanged.

The Adena were skilled potters and sculptors, making pottery and small effigy sculptures out of clay and stone, and bowls and other household utensils from wood and stone. The Hopewell stone and clay items had a refinement that indicated their sculptors and potters were more skilled than the Adena.

We had previously been impressed by how many other Indian tribes in what is now the United States had constructed mounds copying those of   the Adena-Hopewell tribes. The largest we have visited are the Cahokia Mounds outside of St. Louis, but we have visited mounds in Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and now Indiana.

At one point when Europeans first arrived in America there may have been thousands of mounds, but many mounds have been leveled for farm land or raided for artifacts.  This area was saved from destruction by the Bronnenberg family, who preserved the area for future generations.  Their two-story brick farmhouse is open for visitors. 

We were impressed with the scenery along the wooden boardwalk that took us around the park and back to the visitor’s center that has a small but well-chosen set of displays on the wild animal and plant life of the area.



 Kelly told us the park had been started in 1930, but the visitor’s center and display were not added until the 1990s.  She took us into the glassed viewing room, overlooking a rich range of plants and scenery seated us on comfortable couches and opened herself to questions.

A variety of bird houses were visible, some of which she said were for bats, who use the local trees for their resting place.  Kelly said the bats are endangered and steps are being taken to preserve them. Humming birds were just returning to the area when we visited in the spring--an especially good time to enjoy the setting and learn some history.



A walking trail goes through the mounds area


A viewing room in the visitor's center lets you watch different birds and bats in the area

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Iowa State History Museum


Iowa State History Museum



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The sheer size of the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines impressed us.  One building holds the state archives, while the other holds one of the most complete and interesting state history museums we have visited. Built in 1987, it was ahead of its time with a modern design including a large reception area lit by skylights. There is talk of reducing the size of the 234,000-square-foot museum, as well as replacing one wall and stopping the skylights from leaking when it rains.




The Iowa State History Museum is the largest we have visited.



There’s a variety of displays on the three floors, some of which is expected in a state museum, such as a mastodon, relics from the American Indians who originally inhabited the area, Civil War weapons and artifacts and an excellent collection of items used by early white settlers in Iowa.

What was more unexpected were the exhibits you don’t typically see at state museums: Hollywood in the Heartland, Riding Through History, Saving Our Stuff and one exhibit featuring a reproduction of a coal mine.

Hollywood in the Heartland featured a series of cases showcasing actors who came from Iowa but most of the space is devoted to investigating and showing the influence of some major films made about Iowa that reflect well on the state. Each section includes seats, a large screen showing excerpts of the movies along with comments and a sound system that restricts the sound only to the seating area. The films highlighted during our visit were “State Fair,” “Bridges of Madison County,” “Music Man” and “Field of Dreams.”

We stepped into a 3,000-square-foot area with a variety of old, new and classic bicycles. As it turns out, Iowans are taken with the early days of bicycle riding and claim to be the bicycle trails capital of the world. One of the races in the state, the Good Life Gravel Gran Fondo, includes a 340-mile contest over gravel and dirt roads that must be finished in 34 hours, and the route is kept as a surprise to the riders. Part of the exhibit includes a film about that race and the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

In the Saving Our Stuff exhibit, a collection of material damaged by water from floods, mold, time and other factors were on display, and a film was shown depicting people working to restore various damaged objects. We watched as an artist restored a painting that had been damaged in a flood, and in one display, received instructions about how to prepare a wedding dress for storage so it would not suffer the consequences of time.

Turning to an exhibit exploring the balance between using the state’s resources and preserving them, a darkened area gave us the feel of being in a coal mine as two mannequins stood in as workers bent over in tight conditions. A film also was shown about how coal mining in Iowa had been a major source of soft coal. The film, which was made when mines still existed in the state, talk about both the danger and the special pleasure that comes from being a miner.

Given the dangers and health hazards of the job, the idea of job satisfaction was a bit difficult for us to understand.

Another amenity of the museum is a small but pleasant restaurant on the third floor with both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the Des Moines skyline.




An Iowa State History Museum mastodon




Iowa claims to be the bicycle trails capital of the world.

Living History Museums


Living History Museums: An Overview

Throughout the U.S. my wife Carla and I have been able to visit  a bountiful number of museums and historical sites  that capture  the history of our country, finding them engaging and educational experiences.

   For sixty-four years we have traveled extensively, even more often as we are now both retired psychologists.   For the past  nineteen years I has written a weekly Venture Bound travel column for the Columbia Daily Tribune.  For the last ten years Carla has been co-author.

One of the benefits of this kind of traveling is that adults along with children (we have four) learn more about our history--the struggles and the progress we have made to reach this point in history-- and also to appreciate in many ways how fortunate we are in living at this time. 



At Conner Prairie we interacted with authentic member of the Delaware tribe who spoke the original Delaware language.



  The staff at living history  museums strive for authenticity as they drop us back into the past.  Many of the museums are original buildings, often transported in from around the state at considerable expense.  They are filled with original furniture and tools, and if more artifacts are needed, they are made on the grounds using original techniques.  Most living history museums limit themselves to one period in history. 

 We are impressed by the variety in the approaches taken by the staffs to entertain and teach us.  We especially enjoy talking with re-enactors who take on the characteristics and dress of someone from the past and discuss with us what their lives were like--what they were proud of, what problems they were struggling with, and what dishes, tools,  and equipment they used.

  We enjoyed seeing how the children were treated, for example, the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park in Indiana, where children can drop back to the 1830s to dip candles, play with hoops, and get a chance to pump an old fashioned lathe to help a wood worker make table legs.   Children can pet the animals, the only jarring feature from the future was the hand sanitizer to use after the petting.

In Old Bedford, Pennsylvania, we went back to the 1820s where we discussed burial customs with the cabinet maker, watched the pharmacist mix his meds for the day and attended a church service.  

Most of the  museums focus on a particular time period.  There is a great deal of interest among over 50-year-olds in studying their family history. They are able to get a very clear picture of how those  ancestors lived and the kind of problems they faced.

We were delighted to talk to the costumed re-enactors  from different periods of time at the American Frontier Culture in Staunton, Virginia.  Farm buildings had been brought in from five foreign countries and showed how their cultures and way of life converged to create an American farm of the 1850s. 

Eight state history museums or sites, on the other hand,  presented a broad view of the states' histories using a variety of modern techniques for educating and entertaining  visitors. Most states have magnificent displays of original artifacts often in striking new buildings that also include the states' historical archives.

At various sites we saw costumed manikins who could talk, listened to audio tours, watched short movies that captured real events in the state's history, and saw newspaper clippings, posters, and even an occasional holograph that made the figures more real than 3D.

For more recent history we are now presented with oral recordings and movies made since the twenties that inform us about life in the depression, laborers revolting against management and the problems with race relations. 

 Most state history museums take us back in time to at least the time of Native Americans, and some like the Indiana State History Museum go back in time to the development of coal and a museum  in Arizona goes back to the age of the dinosaur. 

Other history museums took us to a specific critical event in our history such as the development of the atomic bomb at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Brown vs. the  Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas.  These also use a multitude of devices and methods to bring us into a sense of the past so we leave feeling we really understand what happened there.

Some like BitterSweet Cabin Village in Kentucky and The Pioneer Women Museum in Oklahoma confine themselves to a narrow range of history. The John Deere Museum in Illinois and the McCormick Farm in Virginia deal with a specific inventions that changed the nature of agriculture in America.





Making History Real for Children



Experiences with people and life from the past will broaden a child's ability to understand the world.  Classroom experiences are frequent in living history museums, but they are often brief being no more than an hour of two of what the classrooms were like in the past.

 One of the best we've seen was in Oklahoma where the children came for the day, dressed, as their teachers did, in turn of the century clothes, with a home-packed lunch.  Boys were seated on one side of the room and the girls on the other.  They spent the whole day in class learning the subject matter of the time with the teacher using the tools and methods of the time.

At other places we have met with re-enactors who stayed in role, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Andrew Johnson and many common people who could tell us about their time period.

 For these contacts the children need some preparation so they know who they are dealing with and can ask the appropriate questions.  It helps if these experiences are intergraded into their classroom studies.  Actually getting involved and doing something is better than watching someone do it, and watching someone do something is better than reading about it. 

We have visited one excellent  site where children lived for five or six days to get an immersion experience in what life was like for their ancestors, but we will probably talk about that in another book.

We have been very pleased about what we have learned by traveling to living history museums and historical sites.



At Conner Prairie we watched a re-enactor, make moccasins. As we admired the size and quality of a beaver skin he was working with, he explained the process the Native Americans used to prepare it.



At the Ark Encounter a manikin Noah tells the visitor about his work.


Monday, December 5, 2016

McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture


McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville was one of those experiences that filled us with awe at the quality of the historical artifacts and offbeat displays that often elicited smiles. 




Early hominids



We got both a bit of shock and a chuckle at the exhibition, Human Origins: Searching for Our Fossil Ancestors, where on a large TV screen we saw the face of a primitive ape- like creature slowly evolve into that of a modern human.



 

           Under the TV screen was a large globe where fiber optic lights pinpoint the places where the fossils have been found that support the reconstruction of our origins and how over the last two million years humans have spread out of Africa to populate the rest of the world.

 Some scientists in the overview noted that hominids-- our ancestors--existed six million years ago.  

One impactful display had  on one side casts of archaic homo sapiens skulls and a skeleton.  On the other side were the skeleton of the one-and half-million-year-old Turkana Boy and the three- million-year-old skeleton of Lucy.

A reconstructed portion of the 17,000-year-old cave painting at Lascaux, France on the ceiling of the exhibition room with its colorful animals and symbols added to drama of our experience.

We were also charmed by the Archaeology and the Native Peoples of Tennessee exhibition that is based on 65 years of research by archaeologists from the University of Tennessee as they trace 15,000 years of Native American life in this area.  What most impressed us were the five murals arranged around the 3,200-square-foot gallery that showed the different cultural periods giving us touching views of their  lives.




Native people were here in the age of mammoths





 It was also fun to see the displays built into the floor of an earth oven and fragments of tools of the time.  We also saw large displays of flint objects we had never heard of before.  One display noted:  "This rich collection of ceremonial artistry is known worldwide as the Duck River Cache. The swords, maces, hooks and discs were not used as weapons, but as symbols of leadership or authority, perhaps ceremonially as seen in the gorget in this case."

We were surprised to find a small Ancient Egypt exhibit that  included a coffin that had belonged to a priestess and some animal mummies.  In one of the cases were hair combs, shoes and writing implements, and on a wall nearby a copy of the Rosetta Stone.

More expected in a museum in Tennessee was the exhibition of the Civil War in Knoxville that focuses its on the Battle of Fort Sanders and East Tennessee with artifacts provided by families in the area and items excavated from the battlefield.

Other displays covered Decorative Arts from Around the World, and Freshwater Mussels.  The museum is in a new building and while small by museum standards it compactness lends charm to the varigated exhibits. 

Parking and entrance are free, and the day we were there very few visitors joined us.  As usual for museums of this type we saw it has great potential as a learning experience for grade school children as well as adults.

The museum is accredited by American Association of Museums and an affiliate  of the Smithsonian  Institution.   





Stone tools of the period served many uses