Logan Museum of Anthropology -
There are three museums in Beloit. Being asked to choose which is best is like being asked, “So what’s your favorite color? Oak trees or thunder?” They really are so different that which is ”best” depends solely on personal interests. I finally decided on the Logan Museum of Anthropology, that 120-year-old bastion squatting on the Beloit College Campus daring passers-by to make fun of its appearance.
The Logan Museum: First Impressions
I mean, really. When I walked up to the building for the first time on this snowy Saturday, I couldn’t help but make mental comparisons. An online romance between Emily Dickinson and Andy Warhol? Charles Dickens being asked by his agent to write about Facebook? The juxtaposition between the elegant yellow-bricked church in an unholy unity with a squat, modern red-brick building was laughable. But I wasn’t there to write an architectural critique. It was time to go in.
After being greeted at the door by a determinedly cheerful student (it was a very lonely Saturday), I entered to be confronted with row upon row of carefully cataloged pottery. Getting over the sheer volume, I began to peruse individual pieces. They ranged from pre-Columbian to modern, and were an amazing sampling. I was impressed at the hours needed to carefully arrange and label each piece. On the opposite wall were a number of small displays, highlighting individual eras or regions. I was relieved the museum provided an unusual stone chair for me to sit in and fan myself, but no, darn, there was that “Do Not Touch or Sit” sign on the thing. Ah well. On we go.
Different views of ordinary
I’ve always been interested in the lives of those who lived in the past: the ordinary, where-do-they-chuck-their-garbage, how-did-they-make-their-clothes sort of stuff. So I tended to gravitate toward the exhibits showing wool spinning, knife making, and clothes constructing. As I always am in museums of this sort, I wonder how I would have done as a paleolithic beader, or some such. Coming home to hot soup in the crockpot helps me realize just how easy I have it.
As I went upstairs to the Native American exhibits, I was fairly surprised to see an exhibit on the Tlingit culture from my home area: Alaska. The Raven legend and figures were so familiar I was hit with an unexpected wave of home-lust. I spent far too much time there trying not to press my nose to the exhibit glass, thinking that nose-prints would be just poor form.
A relaxing afternoon
I love museums, and strolling slowly through them is one of my favorite ways of spending quiet afternoons. I thought it was strangely appropriate that a building which had been dedicated to the works of God was now being used to house the works of mankind. Perhaps it’s just that strange juxtaposition again. I left the building, somewhat warm as a result of meandering through a heated building having absent-mindedly left my coat on, and stepped out into the falling snow. It hit my face as I blinked upward at the iron spires on the roof in companionship with the more stolid red bricks.
A bizarre pairing, to be sure, but somehow one that works.