Museums offer the educator an unparalleled opportunity to not just learn but to experience knowledge that can enhance any lesson plan. Field trips are not necessary when an educator is able to vividly convey what they saw and felt during their visit. The following five museums come highly recommended to all teachers.
Aside from its dramatic and striking appearance, the New Orleans WWII museum offers an impressively detailed overview of what is arguably the greatest historical event of the 20th Century. GoNola describes, “The sense of immersion at the National World War II Museum comes through in all the details that make up the museum, from the micro to the macro.” The visitor will find everything here: exhibits, first-person oral histories, multimedia presentations and more. The museum ensures that the experiences of our greatest generation will never be forgotten.
Not many know of the importance of Lone Pine, California. Film aficionados know that the rural hamlet was the setting of over 400 Hollywood westerns. Sierra Nevada Geotourism explains, “Since the early years of filmmaking, directors and actors, producers and their production units large and small have packed up and left Hollywood for the great outdoors.” It’s fitting that the town boasts a museum devoted to chronicling the movies filmed here. With exhibits detailing the filming of classic films such as Gunga Din, set amidst the beautiful local scenery, the museum is well worth the trek.
Located in Ottawa, the Canadian Museum of Nature is the national natural sciences and natural history museum. According to Budget, “The Canadian Museum of Nature is a fascinating spectacle comprised of hands-on exhibits that dive deep into natural history.” Featuring several permanent galleries, the visitor will learn about Canadian native wildlife and climate. The Canada Goose Arctic Gallery offers a window on Canada’s pristine Arctic regions, including the effects of climate change.
This free museum features an eclectic array of art, ranging from contemporary to medieval art. Of particular interest to educators is the museum’s library and archives which include primary source information on local history as well as materials detailing the social history of various 20th Century American art movements. US News Travel describes, “The Cleveland Museum of Art currently houses nearly 45,000 pieces of artwork spanning 6,000 years. The exhibits are arranged in chronological order and include photographs, paintings, sculptures, objects and installations by world-renowned artists, including Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso.” These archives require registration but remain free to the public. The museum also offers daily tours.
Washington DC features an embarrassment of riches for tourists, students and educators alike. Of its many attractions, the Newseum should not be overlooked. With fifteen separate galleries and theaters, the museum’s scope is vast. It covers not just the First Amendment, but it also includes exhibits on the Berlin Wall as well as its famous interactive newsroom. Educators looking for novel ways to teach communication and journalism will likely find inspiration after visiting.
Museums, like any effective classroom, can instruct, entertain and enlighten. Consider visiting a museum when you are considering topics to address in your curriculum.