Today, more than 1400 museums across the U.S are offering the public free admission to commemorate the 11th annual Museum Day Live. Last year a record 400,000 people took advantage of the Smithsonian hosted event, with organizers expecting that number to be significantly higher this year.
Many of the participating museums will be putting on special exhibits and programs, which will give the public an inside and close up look at some of their more unusual and unique offerings – from handcrafted voodoo dolls and skulls to Thanksgiving Day pardoned turkeys.
According to The Smithsonian here’s what will be happening today across the nation:
- At the Morven Park Museum in Leesburg, Virginia, the former home of Governor Westmoreland Davis, visitors can learn about the history of the annual Presidential Turkey Pardon, an event where the incumbent U.S. President pardons one turkey from becoming someone’s’ Thanksgiving Day dinner. The pardoned Turkey in this tradition dating back to President Abraham Lincoln, is sent to roam the grounds of the museum, forever free of fear of ending up on someone’s dinner table.
- The story of the women that some people call America’s version of Imelda Marcos, even though she is renowned for designing shoes rather than just wearing and collecting them, will be on display at the Long Island Museum in New York, as part of a traveling exhibit called “Beth Levine:First Lady of Shoes”. The exhibit features many of her famous shoes and other footwear, fun memorabilia and photographs which show how the Long Island born Levine became a fashion icon and designer of shoes for actresses, first ladies, female icons and musicians, including Nancy Sinatra who Levine persuaded to wear a pair of her white stiletto boots while performing her signature song “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’.”
- At College Park Museum in Maryland, which overlooks the world’s oldest continuously operating airport – College Park Airport – visitors will be able to view its collection of aeronautical artifacts including the 1924 Berliner Helicopter which is regarded as the craft whose design and features lead to the advancement of the modern day helicopter.
- For fans of the Uncle Remus stories, the place to be today is at the museum that bears his name and which is located in the hometown of his creator Joel Chandler Harris. As well as being able to explore Harris’s life, visitors will be able to view the recently donated first edition of his first collection of Uncle Remus stories – “Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings—The Folklore of the Old Plantation”.
- As kids most people loved carousel rides so seeing one as an adult brings back happy memories. That being the case, there will be many fond memories floating around today at the museum dedicated to the inventor of the portable carousel, Charles Wallace Parker. At the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth, Kansas, visitors will be able to see photographs, drawings and plans, among other artifacts, from Parker’s life, as well as early carousels, including the “1850 Primitive Carousel”, which is the oldest, still operating wooden carousel in the country.
- Besides Jazz and mardi gras, New Orleans’ is renowned for its long time connection to voodoo magic. Tucked away in the French Quarter visitors will find the original Voodoo museum where today, for free, they have an opportunity to meet and talk with local voodoo practitioner Cinnamon Black. The museum founded in 1972, also has a vast collection of all things voodoo, dating back to the 18th century, which tell the history of voodoo – dolls, beads, bones, candles, human skulls and jars used to store souls.
- At the only museum in the U.S devoted to metal work, the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, visitors will be given tours by metal workers including master metalsmith and Professor Emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Linda Threadgill. The tours include the museum’s “Master Metalsmith” exhibit which honors 30 of the world’s finest metal artists.
- Finally, people who want to experience all the beauty of the Arctic Circle’s winter polar nights, without the cold, and for free, can do so today at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. On display will be a new exhibit simply called “Polar Nights”, which takes visitors on a tour of the sights, sounds and the life of an Arctic night with only a small penlight to guide them. The exhibit is a partnership with Norway’s Tromsø University Museum.
For a full list of participating museums and weekend events head over to The Smithsonian