I have a segmented bucket list. There are separate sections for places to go, things to master and books to read before I drop. My fastest growing section is always the places to go one (because the book list fluxes). Constantly researching new adventures, I think I’ve complied quite a nice list. In this article I’ll share five history museums that you’re definitely going to want add to your own bucket list!
International Spy Museum (Washington, D.C., USA)
I first heard about this museum when I was in D.C. for a high school trip. Unfortunately, this unique spot was not on our agenda. Ever since I’ve made it a goal to go back and visit. The International Spy Museum is the only one of its nature in the world. History geeks, Nancy Drew aspirers and spy gear fanatics will all love this museum. It is dedicated to both real life spies and ones that belong only to fiction. The museum is “committed to the apolitical presentation of the history of espionage in order to provide visitors with nonbiased, accurate information.” The experience begins with a “briefing” video. Then guests are free to explore two floors of espionage history dating all the way back to early biblical times. Then at the end, there is a concluding film on the place of spy work in the modern world.
Colonial Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia, USA)
The cool thing about Colonial Williamsburg is that it’s a living history museum. I visited on a family vacation when I was younger and loved it. What’s a living history museum? It’s when costumed interpreters reenact history. At this particular location you can meet George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other everyday colonial folk. There are shows, gardens and architecture representative of the colonial time. Apothecaries, blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, wigmakers, gunsmiths – these are just a few of the actual reconstructed historical buildings that guests can visit. The best way to learn history sometimes is to interact.
British Museum (London, England)
Opening in 1753, the British Museum was the first public museum in history. It made my list for two reasons. One, admission is free. Two, it is home to the Rosetta Stone (used to decode hieroglyphs). The permanent collection has around eight million pieces. Galleries include artifacts from ancient Egypt, Sudan, the Middle East, Greece and Rome. Wikipedia says the British Museum has “one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Ethnographic material from Africa, Oceania and the Americas.”
Inside there’s also an African garden and a giant Reading Room. In fact, Alfred Hitchcock fans will recognize the Reading Room and the museum’s dome from the 1929 film Blackmail. The room was also referenced in Virginia Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own.” Currently the space is being used to show off special exhibitions. With the cost of admission being what it is, there’s no reason not to go!
National Museum of Denmark (Copenhagen, Denmark)
This museum I found on an article listing the best free museums in Europe. Besides the excitement of a free history lesson on the Danes, you should also go to the museum to check out its children’s area. Kids can dress up like Vikings or choose other time period-appropriate clothing. Another cool feature is that the building is a prince’s mansion. The mansion used to be the actual home of the Crown Prince of Denmark before it became the museum (a restaurant and movie theater are included too).
San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California, USA)
As the name suggests, the San Diego Museum of Man is the history of mankind; an anthropology museum. Western American history is prominently on display, including Native American and Mesoamerican cultural exhibits. A unique element is this museum is its Ptolemaic child’s coffin. It is one of only six that still exists. The coffin is part of the ancient Egyptian collection of mummies, painted coffins and more. The museum offers a wide range of things to see in one location.
The actual building is historic as well. The California Tower was built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. Every quarter hour the bells inside chime. The museum is 200 feet below the tower in the California Building. Orson Welles featured the landmark as the exterior of the Xanadu estate in his movie, Citizen Kane. Another fun fact is if you are a resident of San Diego County or an active military member, then you can get free admission to the museum on the third Tuesday of the month.
That’s it! Those are my five most highly recommended additions for everyone’s bucket list. If you know of a museum that is a must to be shared for other Daily Quirk readers, comment below.