Museums: Old Stuff with a New Twist

sisters in a museum

In an age when every business needs to be more conscious of their marketing, the museum is no longer immune. Competing for every dollar in the entertainment world with other more glamorous options is front and center on their minds right now. Families today do not have the luxury of both an educational activities budget and a family entertainment budget. You may only have the money or time to do one thing and it all gets lumped into a single weekend fund called “family activities”. I love museums; but it can be a hard sell to an 8-year-old boy, when the video game convention is in town. Tough economic times and more competition in the marketplace have many museums reinventing themselves to meet this challenge.

Not to worry. The museums have not only met the challenge, they have become models in many cases, for how to play the game.  Progressive museums of today are living breathing hubs of activity. Museums are no longer just stuffy people staring, in sterile silence, at art hanging on enormous walls. (Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is the “still life” if you know what I mean.)  Oh they still have the paintings on the walls, hankies from famous queens on display and stuffed African elephants, but they are so much more these days. No longer spending all their money on acquiring artifacts, museums are now using money from their budgets to draw people in the front door. The reason is simple, what good is a priceless object if no one comes to see it?  They recognize that they need to get you there today and they need to keep you coming back over and over. And the way to do that is to give you a reason to return. Some of the ways to accomplish this have been inviting guest speakers, hosting events and securing interactive and timely exhibits. Other not so obvious ways have been by hosting sleepovers and renting the facility out for private functions such as weddings as a subtle way of getting people to know the museum.

Museums have raised the bar on creative ways to get people of all ages and demographics to visit. While the kids are looking at the Lego exhibit, Grandma can be looking at those hankies and you can be drinking designer coffee in the cafe. (After spending years entertaining 3 boys on weekends, the place that I want to see most in a museum is one with a seat!) I hope that this varied list of large and small museums and fancy and basic events, makes you reconsider a museum as a great place to spend your entertainment dollars. There are some very fine activities for young and old going on each and every day right in your own backyard.

National Farm Toy Show

Nov 01, 2013 – Nov 03, 2013

National Farm Toy Museum Dyersville, IA 52040

Since 1977, this event has over 350 exhibitors will display old and new agricultural and industrial toys on display for sale. There is the traditional auction of some of the toys.
15,000 Attendees


Mummies of the World

Oct 24, 2013 – Jan 19, 2014

Maryland Science Center Baltimore, MD 21230

Mummies of the World is a never-before-seen collection of 150 objects and specimens, including real human and animal mummies and related artifacts from South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Egypt. Mummies of the World bridges the gap between past and present, showing how science can shed light on the historical and cultural record around the world. This ticket includes admission to the exhibits. No additional ticket required.

More Event Info

Redcoats and Rebels Revolutionary War Re-Enactment

Nov 01, 2013 – Nov 03, 2013

Pioneer Living History Museum Phoenix, AZ 85086

Re-enactments of the Revolutionary War throughout the Pioneer Living History Village. The Village Green and surrounding grounds will once again reverberate to the sound of cannon-fire. Soldiers will face off in life-and-death confrontation, hoping for victory, praying for the chance to live another day.



Nov 03, 2013

Stamford Museum and Nature Center Stamford, CT 06903

Get up close and personal with some cool larger- than-life vehicles during Touch-A-Truck. Find out how these trucks work and what purposes they serve. You might even be able to climb inside a few!


Creating Jones Beach

Nov 03, 2013

The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages Stony Brook, NY 11790

Experts on Jones Beach history discuss the vision, political battles and architecture of Jones Beach.


Mollusks: Shelled Masters of the Marine Realm

Oct 01, 2013 – Feb 01, 2014

Harvard Museum of Natural History Cambridge, MA 02138

Mollusks explores the amazing diversity and history of mollusks—snails, clams, squid and other invertebrates that comprise almost a quarter of all known marine species. Featuring the research of Professor Gonzalo Giribet, colleagues and students at Harvard University, and the Dept. of Malacology at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, this new exhibition engages the general public in mollusk evolution, ecology, and the many ways in which their lives intersect with ours.


Minature War Gaming Day

Nov 02, 2013

Fort Meigs State Memorial Perrysburg, OH 43552

Come fight the War of 1812, World War I, and World War II all in one room! Miniature war gaming experts help you play more than 16 different war games and learn about this family friendly hobby. No experience is required and kids are welcome. Food will be available on site. Admission price includes the miniature war gaming and the museum. All new games this year! Co-sponsored by the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, Great Lakes Chapter.


American Block and Burin: Wood Engravings from the Permanent Collection

Aug 27, 2013 – Dec 08, 2013

Palmer Museum of Art University Park, PA 16802

Wood engraving is a relatively new medium. While the related woodcut has been employed extensively in Western art since the fifteenth century, only in the later years of the eighteenth century did artists begin to consider the potential of cutting into wood’s uniformly resistant end grain, rather than the more mutable side grain of the traditional woodblock. Carved with burins similar to those used to chase metal plates, the wood engraving is, like the woodcut, printed in relief; however, the resulting network of fine white lines forms a composition far more delicate and detailed than what a woodcut typically allows. American Block and Burin examines wood engraving as it developed in response to commercial and cultural forces in the United States.


DETROIT: Artists in Residence

Sep 13, 2013 – May 26, 2014

The Mattress Factory Pittsburgh, PA 15212

The Mattress Factory celebrates its 35th anniversary with an exhibition of work by Detroit-based artists Design 99, Jessica Frelinghuysen, Scott Hocking, Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, Russ Orlando and Frank Pahl, who are all reacting to the swift socioeconomic changes in their city, creating work freely in an environment burgeoning with opportunity. The artists’ edgy creativity and entrepreneurship recall the same spirit at play during the founding of the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh’s North Side 35 years ago.


The Art of Steel: As Seen Through the Eyes of Norman Rockwell

May 17, 2013 – Nov 01, 2013

Steel Plant Museum of Western New York Buffalo, NY 14210

While Norman Rockwell was best known for his Saturday Evening Post covers, his art had far more breadth. Please join us for an exhibition of his work relating to the steel industry. (When visiting the Steel Plant Museum, please park behind the building, not on Lee St.)


Dinosaurs Live!

Sep 14, 2013 – Feb 02, 2014

Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary McKinney, TX 75069

Dinosaurs are returning from extinction for your family to experience and enjoy! Encounter moving dinosaurs including a 46 foot long T-Rex along the Heard nature trails.


Truck and Bus Exhibit at Buick Automotive Gallery

Oct 26, 2013 – Mar 30, 2014

Buick Automotive Gallery Flint, MI 48503

Truck and Bus at Buick Automotive Gallery October 26, 2013 – March 30, 2014 Partnering with General Motors, Sloan Museum will host a special exhibit at Buick Automotive Gallery featuring the workhorses of the automotive world – pick-up trucks. From their infancy as motorized versions of delivery wagons, these trucks have developed into essential tools used by farmers, ranchers, construction workers, and firefighters. However, many people who rarely haul anything other than groceries now enjoy these vehicles for their ruggedness and style. This exhibit will focus on the theme that today’s pick-up truck is far more than a simple automobile with a cab and a storage bed. It is a sophisticated and well-designed vehicle that “gets things done” and enables an increasing number of people to pursue active modern lifestyles.


Montshire Unleashed: An Evening for Adults

Nov 01, 2013

Montshire Museum of Science Norwich, VT 05055

Montshire Unleashed: An Evening for Adults Fridays, 6-9 p.m. November 1; January 17, April 4, July 18 Allow your inner curiosity to run wild! The Montshire is open after hours for adults of all ages. Pull up a stool at the Science Discovery Lab for some amazing activities or simply explore the Museum’s visiting and permanent exhibits on your own. Jasper Murdock Ale and wine from the Norwich Inn will be available for purchase. Programs free with museum admission: $14 for adults, free for members. Montshire Museum of Science One Montshire RoadNorwich, VT05055 Tel: 802-649-2200 Fax: 802-649-3637 The Montshire Museum of Science is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, 363 days a year. (Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.) Parking is free and adjacent to the museum. The Museum is directly across the Connecticut River from Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College.
200 Attendees


Maria can be reached directly at or @eventcrazy on Twitter or  visit her website at

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