Museum noun mu·se·um \myu̇-ˈzē-əm\: a building in which interesting and valuable things (such as paintings and sculptures or scientific or historical objects) are collected and shown to the public. An institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value; also :a place where objects are exhibited.
Merriam-Webster's definition makes it sound so banal when, in actuality, I wish M-W could instill a bit of emotion in the word … MUSEUM!!
We enjoy museums. Big museums, small museums, art museums, natural history museums, maritime museums … you name it and if it's affordable and nearby, we'll visit and enjoy. In our travels, we've seen the mediocre, the good and the outstanding. We always find some worthwhile takeaway for our efforts … some more than others. Note that in the following list we did not include museums we visited in the past before we started sailing like The Smithsonians, the Louvre, the Guggenheim, or the MET.
Here, not in any special order, is our list of nine museums that really knocked our socks off.
1. Museum of New and Old Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Whenever we think of museums, MONA is the first one that comes to mind. We would not have expected to find a world class museum in Hobart, Tasmania, but we did. MONA is the eclectic, blow-your-mind, private collection of millionaire, professional gambler, David Walsh, and the largest privately funded museum in Australia. It delights, surprises and stings all at the same time.
2. Mystic Seaport – Museum of America and the Sea, Mystic, Connecticut, USA
Imagine a small 19th century New England seaport village on the banks of the Mystic River, complete with its own wooden whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan, tied up at the wharf. This open air museum is a trip back in time. We've visited several times and you can even dock your boat at their marina.
3. Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand
What a gem! While in Wellington, we were docked next door at the Chaffer's Marina and visited Te Papa several times because once just didn't do it. The museum offers a wonderful taste of New Zealand’s nature, art, history, and cultural heritage. Amazingly, admission is free.
4. New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, USA
We visited this museum fairly recently on one of our trips back to the USA which made us wonder 1) why we'd never visited before and 2) why we hadn't visited New Bedford with the boat. The museum's collection of whaling information, artifacts and memorabilia is absolutely awesome. Walking the cobble-stoned streets of historic New Bedford gets you in the mood for the museum.
5. Western Australia Maritime Museum, Fremantle, Australia
“Perched on the Indian Ocean's shore, the Western Australian Maritime Museum is symbolic of Fremantle’s past, present and future as a coastal city and port. The Museum houses several unique galleries at different venues that explore WA's relationship with the sea. From leisure boats and handcrafted sailing boats to commercial pearl luggers.” We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
6. Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem, USA
As if being in historic Salem, Massachusetts isn't enough, the Peabody Essex Museum is the frosting on the cake. With a collection of 1.8 million pieces, the museum “offers outstanding works primarily from the 1700s to today: paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, textiles, architecture and decorative objects. Our African, American, Asian, maritime, Native American and Oceanic art emphasizes the lively conversation that occurs through creativity across time, place and culture.” You can get lost in this museum and never want to be found.
7. Museo Larco, Lima, Peru
We visited the Museo Larco on our first trip to Lima, Peru. An awe-inspiring look at Pre-Columbian art, culture and history including a gold collection that is beyond belief.
8. Mitad del Mundo, Quito, Ecuador
Straddling the north and south hemispheres or just standing on the Equator, the middle of the world, is enough to make you appreciate this museum and landmark just outside Quito, Ecuador. Ecuador, after all, translates to “equator” in English. We've crossed the Equator several times in the boat, but standing on it had special meaning. Not far away is the Intiñan Solar Museum where you can practice “equator” tricks, like balancing an egg on its end.
9. Museum Kurá Hulanda – Willemstad, Curaçao
Admittedly, we visited Kurá Hulanda more than a decade ago. This anthropological museum “focuses on the predominant cultures of Curacao. It offers a world-class chronicle of the Origin of Man, the African slave trade, West African Empires, Pre-Colombian gold, Mesopotamian relics and Antillean art.” We were very impressed at the time and when I checked it out recently, I found it had won a Trip Advisor “Traveler's Choice Award” for 2015 and was listed as one of the top 10 museums in the Caribbean.
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