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For Your Consideration 6.1

Museums Create a Sense of Place in Phoenix

The city of Phoenix, Arizona, is using museums to help create a “downtown” in this sprawling city of 2.4 million residents. Over the last five years, the community has built a swath of entertainment and cultural facilities at its core, including a history museum, an expanded art museum, and a science center, in addition to a new baseball stadium, theater, and refurbished concert hall.

When completed in early 1997, the $48 million Arizona Science Center will be the largest of the projects. The Science Center will house a planetarium, hands-on children’s exhibits, and a theater with an Iwerks movie system that will make viewers feel as if they are part of the action.

City officials hope that these cultural assets will create a vibrant tourist destination and lure for business. What a testament to the power, prestige, and importance of art, history, and science institutions, and the central position they can have in bringing cohesiveness and a sense of place to communities!

Overheard and Reported

Included in the “Metropolitan Diary” column of The New York Times (Sunday, May 26, 1996), was the following amusing note:

Viewing the dazzling Faberge exhibition during its last day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I overheard a woman say to her friend: “The Czar didn’t have to worry about what to give his mother or wife for their birthdays. He just phoned Faberge and said, ‘Send another egg’.”

Don’t Forget the Motor City!

This year marks the centennial of the invention of the automobile. For those of you who might be visiting Detroit, the automotive center of the United States, be certain to enjoy the city’s major museum attractions.

The Detroit Institute of Arts, (313) 833-7900, is one of the nation’s largest art museums. Among its permanent collection are exceptional murals by Diego Rivera. The Museum of African American History, (313) 833-9800, includes a permanent exhibition entitled “An Epic of Heroism,” which tells the story of the underground railroad in Michigan. Music fans should enjoy the Motown Historical Museum, (313) 875-2264. Visitors can see the original recording studio where the careers of such notable groups as The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, and Martha and the Vandellas were launched. Among the exhibitions on view at the Detroit Historical Museum, (313) 833-5342, is one that shows how cars are assembled.

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are in nearby Dearborn. The Henry Ford Museum is both an auto museum and an American history exhibit, chronicling transportation from early bicycles to prototypes of future cars. Greenfield Village is a collection of innovators’ homes that Henry Ford had moved to Dearborn from all over the country, including Thomas Edison’s workshop, brought from Menlo Park, N.J.

“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 6.1 (Autumn 1996): 11.

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