Virtual Tourist: Five Great Non-Art Museums
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Orchard Street Tenement Fa├žade.
 
The Tenement Museum preserves and interprets the history of
immigration through the personal experiences of the generations of newcomers who settled in and built lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side, America's iconic immigrant neighborhood
 
Photo by Keiko Niwa
 
 
Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York City, N.Y.
 
Although Ellis Island reveals that immigrants' hardships continued upon arriving in America, few museums or landmarks illustrate the plight of immigrants in major metropolitan cities. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is such a place. It is housed in an original tenement building that was discovered intact in the late 1980s and a guided tour through the dark, cramped quarters shows what living conditions were like in New York City before housing laws were established. Ironically, the Lower East Side is experiencing a great resurgence, due to its proximity to popular Soho and trendy East Village restaurants -- the contrast between the inside of 97 Orchard Street and what's occurring outside the museum's walls is truly remarkable.
 
Museo Nacional De Antropologia, Mexico City, Mexico
 
Many visitors to Mexico walk the ruins at Chichen Itza and Xochicalco, but few realize there is a central location to admire Olmec, Mayan and Aztec relics within Mexico City. The Museo Nacional de Antropologia is considered one of the world's finest archaeological museums, with an incredible display of pre-Columbian artifacts, including the Piedra del Sol, or the "Stone of the Sun," the Aztec calendar stone found in Mexico City's main square.
 
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
 
The National Air and Space Museum, part of the Smithsonian, is both the world's largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft, but also one of the most visited museums in the world. It houses landmark pieces from scientific history, including the original Wright brother's 1903 Flyer, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, and the command module from Apollo 11. It's also a safe bet that you can get astronaut ice cream here. As with all Smithsonian museums and the zoo in Washington, D.C., admission is free.
 
The British Museum, London, England
 
Established in 1753 through an Act of Parliament and a bequeathed gift from a physician's estate, the British Museum does contain art pieces, but it's more famous for its impressive collection of archaeological finds. The museum's high-profile acquisitions include the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Sculptures, more commonly known as the "Elgin Marbles" after the ambassador who brought the sculptures back to Britain from Athens. Equally impressive is the museum's architecture -- the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, designed by Sir Norman Foster, is the largest covered public square in Europe.
 
The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt
 
This museum houses the greatest collection of Egyptian art in the world, including the treasures from the Tomb of King Tutankhamen and the world's largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities. There are more than 120,000 artifacts on display, from small statues to the actual mummies of Egyptian royalty, and widely recognized iconic pieces like the Gold Mask of Tutankhamen. VirtualTourist.com members agreed that it was nearly impossible to take in everything in only one visit, so go twice if time permits. Also, no photography is allowed inside the museum; in fact, you must leave your cameras outside.
 
(c) 2012 VirtualTourist.com, Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.
 
This was printed in the May 20, 2012 - June 2, 2012 Edition
 

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