City, May 31
I have been to 18 museums so
far in this adventure and I'm learning a few things about museum "management".
One is this--sometimes people collect something and in their compulsions
the collections get out of hand and perhaps a spouse may step in and says,
"Do something about this mess or else!" and the collection gets put
in a building and the whole exercise is called "a museum."
Now the person who collected
all this wonderful stuff may not really be interested in having people
come and look at it. Their "museum" may even appear in some
guide books but they do what they can to deter people from actually
finding and viewing the collection. I found such a museum in Missouri...and
since they want to remain anonymous, we'll help out with that.
But if Independence, Missouri is your destination, you might just want
to satisfy your curiosity with a large jar of Nair from the
drug store and pass on the quirky museum there.
Instead, waste no time in getting
downtown to the Steamboat Arabia exhibit in the revitalized City
Market area. Over 200 tons of buried treasure was recovered--an 1865
time capsule, like finding a 150 year old version of the frontier WalMart.
Truly an amazing story, this full laden steamboat sunk in the Missouri
River. The river changed course and the land became Kansas farm land.
Then an enterprising family went into research mode and located the
downed sternwheeler! Painstaking describes the gentle bringing up
out of 45 feet of mud, all the wonderful boots, china, buttons,
hardware, glass, jewelry--even a doll. This is a remarkable
and authentic presentation that you will NOT FIND anywhere else in
the United States.
And the professional way that
everything is presented--this museum gets an A rating from Alyce.
There is nothing they've done wrong that I can see. Most remarkable:
they found perfume on board the ship, had it analyzed and then had it recreated.
The brand name is "1856" and it is lovely. I'm having some shipped
At this museum you will learn
that if an oil lamp has TWO wicks, then it was a whale oil burning
lamp. One wick, kerosene. And there were so many boots on board
that it will take 40 years to carefully clean them up and present
them for viewing.
What would have happened if
YOU had found this treasure? For Flo and Bob and their family
it changed their lives forever. Now they are museum owners, curators
and managers--the whole family is involved, all the way down to grandson
Matt who took my food order for a sandwich. Matt's going to be off
to college soon to study film production--he's the star potential here,
a handsome young man who took my picture (with Seno, of course) and his
very wonderful grandmother Flo. She is gracious and patient
and has risen to the challenge that the Arabia has presented them.
This museum would not be what it is if this treasure had been given
to a different family. It is a gem to the United States and these
people have taken on the responsibility for it in an amazing