We’ve been talking a lot about museums recently. As we continue on the journey of better understanding the museum landscape, we thought it would be fun to compile each of our favorite museums. It’ll be exciting to see if that changes within the next year as we visit and work with more museums.
Jayson | CAM Raleigh
CAM Raleigh, situated downtown in the warehouse district, is a hub where artists, patrons, students, educators, and art-lovers from all walks of life can come together to trade stories and ideas, experience new and engaging art, and have an excuse to drink beers. Surrounded by foreboding brick buildings from a bygone era, CAM Raleigh is a beacon of contemporary art in the South emblazoned with big, canary-yellow letters.
Too many art museums seem to be plagued with a menacing disease I sometimes call never-enough-badass-content. Their exhibitions are few, and many times their permanent collections can begin to feel stale after just a couple of visits.
CAM Raleigh doesn’t have this problem. Since their space is very limited, this seems to force curators to think creatively about what work they show and why. It’s a daunting task, but it’s one CAM never fails to execute on. My all-time favorite exhibition was one called Surveying the Terrain curated by Dan Solomon. Featuring installation works, aerial photography, and even a few pieces generated from images taken by google street view, Dan found a way to gather some of the most interesting works that commented on how we see, experience, and influence our physical world.
The quality of the work they show in exhibitions that change with reasonable frequency, CAM Raleigh has got this art museum thing figured out. There’s always something new and exciting to see and so far, this is one of the few museums around with enough value that I can justify supporting with a membership fee.
Lyndsey | The Jewish Museum in Prague
My favorite museum is the Jewish Museum in Prague. I took a trip to Prague when I was 20, and spent a day at the Jewish museum, touring the exhibits, synagogues, and cemetery. I was struck not only by the beauty of the architecture and the history of the cemetery, but I was really moved by the exhibit they had of children’s artwork and drawings collected from the Terezin ghetto during WWII. The art was simple and pure, but told the story of the children that were being torn from their homes and transported to concentration camps during the war. I loved the experience of seeing the drawings in such a beautiful country surrounded by the history of Prague during WWII.
Ethan | Baseball Hall of Fame
My favorite museum is the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The first (and actually only time) I’ve been, I was probably 12 or so. It was amazing seeing artifacts from players I’d grown up reading stories — actually, legends — about, and feeling this sense of awe that wow, not only do these things still exist, but I’m also two feet away from them. Sports — especially sports from decades before you were born — have a tendency not to feel real, to feel almost superhuman, to feel intangible. And my experience at the Hall of Fame was so grounding for that reason, because it was a reminder that the legends were all true. Also when I went, they had Curt Schilling’s bloody sock from Boston’s 2004 World Series on display, and that was cool.
The National Science Center Fort Discovery was originally located in Augusta, Georgia. It had several hundred exhibits across a broad range of topics, including—virtual reality bicycles, a giant tesla coil, and a bungee moonwalk. The museum has since moved to Washington DC, but it played a formative role in my understanding of the physical/natural world.
Adam | Mullin Automotive Museum
I’ll put my vote in for the Mullin Automotive Museum. I have never been, but would really like to go. They do a lot of videos with Jay Leno. (Jay Leno’s Garage Series). Take a look at the website and you will see the beautiful french art deco automobiles (among others). I think the reason why it’s my favorite museum speaks for itself.
Archele | Harvey B. Gantt Center
I haven’t visited many museums, but I’m excited about Cuberis’ new direction and all the opportunity it will provide to change that. While I haven’t been yet, I’d love to visit the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte or the Palmer Memorial Institute near Burlington as they both celebrate and preserve African American history. I’d also like to take a trip to CAM and NCMA to explore more of what’s right in my backyard here in the Triangle.
Jennifer | Musée d’Orsay
Selecting a favorite museum was nearly an impossible task—I love museums. I loved my tiny, hometown Saginaw Art Museum because it gave me my first glimpse into collecting and displaying art. I can recall so many museums my family visited on vacations, from fine art, to science, to history museums. I still remember trips based upon the museums we visit along the way.
Forced to choose a favorite, I land on the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. The turn of the century Orsay railway station reimagined as a fine art museum in 1986, with breathtaking effect. The expansive space, punctuated by the gilded clock face, is filled with the paintings and sculptures that you grew up seeing in books. A visit is a crash course in French impressionist and post-impressionist art. Their collection includes master works of artists including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. In spite of the collection representing a slice of history, the museum seems thoroughly modern with great expanses of color in the painting galleries, amazing lighting, and open spaces that are a “paradise for sculpture.” Something that also set this museum apart for me was the collection of decorative arts objects including furniture and household pieces. I look forward to visiting again.
Take a virtual tour here.
The first time I walked into the Cooper Hewitt Museum, I fell in love. It was 2003 (the same year we started Cuberis) and also was my first real trip to NYC. The Cooper Hewitt was THE museum to open my eyes, not only to design but to how it lives in the digital arena. As I walked around and saw exhibition after exhibition living online, it seemed to validate every reason we started web design company.
Since that first introduction, I’ve gone back several times. Sadly, I haven’t been since it was renovated and reopened in late 2014. However, its been pretty amazing to see what they did while closed to the public as well as read the reviews of the new museum.
They released their own logo font to the public for free download. There isn’t a better way I think you can show a pure love of design than by making your own meticulously crafted work available to anyone to use and collaborate with freely. They have a history of open sourcing works as they also bought the iPad music application Planetary and then made public its source code.
The Cooper Hewitt also talks openly about their own design decisions and how they evolve. I can’t think of a better narrative than their discussion about their site redesign and transition from Drupal to WordPress. This post is filled with a tongue and cheek behind-the-scenes look at their thought process and how they ended up with their new WordPress site.
I just can’t wait to visit the new space. Its been touted as “The Museum of the Future” by the Atlantic with its deeply immersive exhibitions and experiences. It breaks the conventional museum mold and asks visitors to “please touch” and interact with each piece. The perfect example of this is with the new pen that was invented for the museum by GE. Just take a look at this technology in use with this video of the museum visitor’s new experience.
I’ve got such a serious crush on this museum that I actually used a photo I took of the building itself for the fictional school “Bolton Prep” in our work on Kathy Reichs’ Virals series.
Shanna | Marbles Kids Museum
Marbles might be meant for kids, but as a member (thanks to my 17 month old son and the massive quantities of energy that we need to burn out of him everyday), the museum in downtown Raleigh has some of the most incredible interactive exhibits that even us adults can enjoy. You can experience hump back whales in their 3-D Imax theater, build mega towers with lifesize blocks, climb through fire trucks and pirate ships, learn about money and imagine you’re playing inside a jungle fantasy land. I am a firm believer in learning through play and hands-on activities. It is fun, casual and surprisingly clean 🙂 Outside of the museum itself, their programs and learning activities are engaging and seasonal (ex: plant the vegetable garden in the spring). I am so glad that Raleigh has this museum – I just wish it was here when I was a kid!
Shaun | International Banana Museum
Go bananas at one of the most aPEELing places I have ever been. When you visit the International Banana Museum, you’ll find yourself monkeying around this fruitful destination. I personally had a bunch of fun, especially since I met a beautiful Chiquita there. We also ran into Bob Dole, who was wearing a very nice Banana Republic shirt. Don’t get your peels in a tangle when you don’t see any homage to plantains here. This is strictly banana business.