After every trip, LEAP Ambassadors independently arrive at their favorite stops along the way, and then compare notes. This not only provides some reflection, but also gives others who might be traveling in this direction some tips for stops they might make in this area (New England).
Our first category is Art Museums. The students visited seven art Museums: MOMA (NYC), Whitney (NYC), the Met (NYC), Mass MOCA (North Adams, MA), Norman Rockwell Museum (Stockbridge, MA), Wadsworth Museum (Hartford, CT), Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI), Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA).
The favorites were….
3. Norman Rockwell (Stockbridge, MA): This was a fun Museum, and it came at just the right time. After five or six Museums focusing on Modern Art, the Rockwell Museum offered a traditional and nostalgic at American Art. In addition to seeing his famous pieces that you expected to see, there are pieces that you forgot you knew, and pieces that were a bit unusual for him. Our favorite was probably “The New Kids…”
One of the nice things about the Museum is the informative docents, who provided excellent commentary on the life of Rockwell and the story behind his paintings. Also of interest is that many of Rockwell’s models stop by the Museum to discuss posing for his iconic artworks.
2. Mass MOCA (North Adams, MA): Undoubtedly, the reason this was a favorite was the nine James Turrell pieces at the Museum. They were amazing. We’ve been to Turrell’s Skyspaces, as well as some of his light-related art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, but these were more interactive and diverse. Unfortunately, photos were mostly prohibited, but all of his pieces were interesting, and “Perfectly Clear” was amazing and, not surprisingly, was the group’s consensus for favorite art piece.
- Museum of Modern Art (NYC): This Museum had the typical representation of art by major artists, including Pollock, Degas, Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and the like. But what separated this for us was the major pieces that the Museum displays by these artists. A lot of us don’t know much about art, so when we see a piece we know, we get that it must be a really famous piece!
And no one can argue against “Starry Night” or “Persistence of Memory…”
Our second category is Historical Sites. We saw a lot of history: The United Nations, Lizzie Borden’s Home, two Presidential Libraries (JFK and FDR), a Presidential home place (TR), the 9-11 Museum, Boston’s Freedom Walk, the Brooklyn Bridge, Mark Twain’s House, Walden Pond, the New York Public Library, and Plymouth Rock. We didn’t have a lot of consensus on this, but by our voting rules, the top three were:
Honorable Mention: The Brooklyn Bridge. This wasn’t explicitly voted in the top three, but we got together before the trip and watched a Ken Burns’ documentary on the Bridge, which was very interesting.
3. Freedom Walk in Boston: This took a while to get through (getting around Boston wasn’t that easy for us), but we enjoyed seeing the historical sites, such as Samuel Adams’ grave and Paul Revere’s House. Afterward, we stopped at Cheers, which is near–but obviously not on–the Freedom Trail.
2. The United Nations. This was our first stop, and we got a good mix of Human Rights, politics, and even art.
- Our favorite historical site was the 9-11 Museum. While too young to remember 9-11, we certainly knew of it, but this Museum brings it to a very personal and emotional level.
Our third category was state capitol buildings, of which we saw four: Albany, NY; Hartford, CT; Providence, RI; and Boston, MA.
Coming in at second was Providence, RI, largely because of our tour guide, Liam. He is a History major at a nearby University, and he brought energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge to the tour.
Throw in a beautiful building, and you’ve got a wonderful time.
Our top Capitol was the NY Capitol Building in Albany. We also had a good tour guide here, and the building was super impressive. And numerous of the governors had become president or a presidential candidate, which added to the historic ambiance.
Our next category was “favorite restaurant.” Our goal was mostly to eat in affordable places and to eat quickly, so that we could see more sites. But we can recommend the following:
- Eisenburg’s Deli: Old-school Jewish deli in New York City.
- Providence Oyster Bar: Good seafood in Providence, Rhode Island.
- Maurice’s Pearl Street Deli: Another strong deli, this time in Albany, NY.
Finally, we had two favorite miscellaneous activities. We enjoyed tubing near Concord, MA….
And, of course, we loved the musical “Chicago” on Broadway.
We definitely believe we got the most out of our trip, seeing thousands of pieces of art; architectural wonders; dozens of historical sites relating to politics, civil rights, and literature; as well as having the opportunity to meet interesting people and, we hope, represent SHSU well in the process.