Today is International Museum Day 2011. To mark the occasion, I am re-posting a blog entry I wrote about one of my all-time favorite heritage institutions: The Concord Museum.
(Originally published on September 2, 2008)
For me, the Concord Museum in Massachusetts holds a special place in my heart. Although there are many museums that I frequent, this is the one that I travel across the country to visit on a yearly basis. Being a native of the Northeast and an enthusiast of 18th- and 19th-Century American history, I am drawn to the museum’s collections. There are two pieces that are especially appealing: the lantern and Thoreau’s desk.
The lantern is one of two that shone from the belfry of the Old North Church on April 18, 1775–the night of Paul Revere’s legendary ride. That lantern is one of the greatest symbols of the American Revolution. It represents the inexorable drive behind the fight for freedom as the patriots worked surreptitiously, under the cover of darkness, to gather forces. That light shining into Boston preceded the shot heard ’round the world, which would take place the following day. One can only imagine the anticipation with which the lantern was lit that fateful night.
The small wooden desk on which Henry David Thoreau penned Walden is an artifact that draws in patrons from around the world. It is understated and totally indicative of Thoreau’s two years in the woods. Some of his greatest thoughts–the purest expressions of transcendentalism–were written upon this simple piece of furniture. How can an anyone interested in American history, literature, and philosophy not be in awe of this exhibit?
There are countless other thought-provoking exhibits at the Concord Museum, but these two will certainly make the visit worthwhile.