This is the first of several posts I’ll be writing about the museums in my life. I think it is very important to tell our children about the past. Museums provide an excellent passport into those early years of our history.
I am in love with museums and have been since I was a child. About once a month my mother would chose a museum or art gallery in our large city of Miami. We would pack a lunch of potted meat, crackers, grapes, and lemon thins!! Funny that I still remember our lunch menu!
My favorite destination was the Viscaya Museum and Gardens, once the villa of James Deering, built in 1916. The Biscayne Bay setting itself is beautiful. The architecture and gardens are in the Italian Renaissance style. More than 70 rooms are filled with European antiques. I remember walking through those rooms and having our picnics on the lawn overlooking the Bay. Oh, the dreams I had as I imagined I was living in the 1920s!
I was ten years old the first time we visited the Biltmore Estate and Gardens in North Carolina. This is a large private estate and tourist attraction on 8,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville. Biltmore House, the main house on the estate, is a Châteauesque-styled 250 room mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It is still owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants as an example of the Gilded Age. The English gardens are still magnificent and the acreage includes a winery and dairy.
I was a real city girl, so our journeys to the mountains were a real treat! Our ancestors had lived in these mountains but not in the opulence of the Biltmore Estate. As much as I loved touring the rooms filled with antiques, I have to admit my favorite thing was to sit on the large veranda or porch on the back side of the house. I would try to imagine the lives of our ancestors as they trekked through those beautiful valleys.
Here is a suggestion: if you are not able to take your children to an actual museum, why not take them on virtual tours via the Internet. Or you could go to the public library and choose one new museum to study each week. Make flash cards to see if you or your children can remember the museums.
Join me next as we look at two of my favorite museums in Washington, D.C.