Friday, June 24, 2011

The Purpose of a Museum

Mazal tov to Marc and Lily who just celebrated their anniversary. You are one year closer to bliss....

First question for your dinner table: What's your favorite gem or mineral?

Marc gets credit for introducing me to the wonderful world of gems and minerals.

Maybe not for introducing me, but for helping me appreciate them in a new way.

I met them yesterday with a couple of my kids and a couple of their kids at the Smithsonian's gem and mineral gallery.

If you haven't been there, you really don't know what you're missing. You may have seen some pretty rocks, but there is no collection quite like this.

Pick your favorite artist or artists. Imagine a single gallery filled with all of their paintings. That's what this place is like.

Room after room.

One room has meteorites. Space rocks! Of all shapes and sizes.

Another has the best displays I've every seen on how rocks and minerals are formed.

Then you get to the good stuff. Emerald, rubies, diamonds, all that precious and semi-precious stuff. Then you have your azurite, benitoite, cerussite, danburite, emerald, fluorite, goshenite, helenite, iolite, jasper, korite, lazulite, moldavite, nephrite, olivine, pectolite, rhodolite, spectrolite, titanite, uvarovite, variscite, wulfenite, and don't let me forget zoisite. (When you read this at the dinner table, try saying that list in one breath.)

Notice what letter I left out?

There's only one Q mineral that I recall - good ol' quartz, and almost nothing compares. There are so many stunning varieties of quartz they could have their own gallery.

Here's an image of Abswurmbachite.

And check out this Wulfenite!

So over lunch, Lily asks, "You live in Baltimore, you must get down here a lot."

With such a resource only an hour away, you would think, right?

I think the last time I was in the Smithsonian was five or six years ago. How can I justify that?

"Well, you know, there's not a lot of time, with school and summer camp and so on."


Look at the enjoyment on the kids' faces at seeing this natural beauty. Forget the kids, what about my own enjoyment?

It was only on the drive back that I remembered the real reason why we don't pop into DC at least once a year to enjoy these museums.

Traffic. The easy one hour door-to-door trip down became two hours on the return.

All this leads to my first question for your table (remember to print this out and read it, it's much more effective)....

Some people say it's the goal that matters most (visiting the museum).

Others say that it's the journey itself that matters (learning to be present at all times, even stuck in traffic).

What do you say?

More important, what do you practice?

(Incidentally, the word for pleasant in Hebrew is “arev” which shares the same root as in to “mix”. What we enjoy mixes with us; and opposite it true.)

(Bonus question - where in Jewish tradition do we find the use of beautiful gems and minerals? Name at least two.)

Shabbat Shalom

(Did I mention printing out this message and reading at your dinner table? Try it, your family/friends will love it.)

No comments: