New and Improved: A Look Inside the Evansville Museum
You know what we should do today? We should go to the museum!
Now how often do you hear these words? At least hear them without a tint of sarcasm? Let’s face it; trips to the museum aren’t typically at the top of most people’s to do list unless, of course, they work there. But believe me when I say that we should go to the museum today! Seriously, we should go to the museum today and let me tell you why.
First of all, this is not your grandfather’s museum. For those of you who haven’t driven past 411 South Riverside Drive in a while, you might not know the Evansville Museum has undergone a big time facelift. During the last five years, the museum has been updated both inside and out with some mighty impressive additions and design changes. Recently I was invited to tour the facility and see these improvements firsthand. It had been quite some time since my last visit. In fact, I had my American Girl doll with me the last time I was there, so this was kind of like going for the first time.
On the Outside
Let’s start with the exterior. The front entrance is a wall of windows, high and wide, that creates a sleek, modern look that welcomes the visitor through the doors and into the lobby. It is light and airy and very inviting. On the lobby’s left is a huge white dome theatre that is impressive in its size and shape. Everything inside this dome is angled down so the viewer can look straight ahead instead of staring up, and speakers are located behind the perforated screen so the sound can pass unfiltered to the audience. This upgraded technology allows complete submersion in the theatre experience. Pretty cool, right? To the right is an area where one can purchase unique souvenirs from wheeled stands that can be removed during special events. Who doesn’t love a gift shop? It’s here where I met with my friendly tour guide, Josh Gilmore.
We began on the first floor of the museum that houses the science and history section and my first reaction was wow! Here I saw a brightly colored exploration zone where kids of all ages can enjoy the exhibits through a hands-on experience. With its many attractions, this spot will surely be a popular draw for classroom field trips. I pity the teacher that has to drag a kid out of there! In the old gift shop is an exhibition area where you can indulge in a little nostalgia by taking a trip down a memory lane that winds through a tribute to the old fashioned local theaters formally located in downtown Evansville. Sit for a spell and admire the movie posters that showcase those actors from long ago.
Following the ramp deeper into the museum, we came to the Walk through Time, an exhibit that harkens back to 1812, the year the city of Evansville was founded. While the walls are blank now, they will soon be covered with a timeline that will lead up to this point in time. As we descended in the museum, we passed under a colorful canopy of handmade flags called Hopes and Dreams flags that were created and donated to support the museum. According to my guide, the museum received nearly 900 of these flags, which can be found throughout the building. This spirit of generosity demonstrates the support this community has for its local museum.
Next on the tour is the historical section, a familiar favorite because it is like stepping back into the 1800s with the décor of the old Victorian age. Here you can find the history of Evansville from its pioneering foundation to its patriotic participation in World War II. Veterans can be deservedly proud of their city’s heritage on display at the museum in the form of photographs, decals, and models.
The second floor, the art and anthropology section, is where you see the early artifacts from ancient civilizations as well as an open art gallery, which holds a wide selection of artworks from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Rembrandt, and Renoir. Art departments at local schools and universities will be impressed with the variety of the museum’s collection. There is something here for everybody!
Okay, I realize a museum is typically a place you go to see “old” stuff like bones and pottery and what-not, but I have to say you should go to the Evansville Museum just to see all that’s ”new.” From the 40-foot dome with its perforated screen made up of 11,000,000,000 pixels to the kid-friendly science zone, the Evansville Museum is now ahead of the curve and can compete with museums in larger cities. So what do you say? Let’s go to the museum today!