Sunday, December 28, 2014

Of Maritime, Glass, and Art...A Great Visit to Norfolk

Our ultimate objective this winter break was Kitty Hawk, NC to see the location of the historic initial flight by the Wright Brothers.

En route, we spent a day in Norfolk, VA and we certainly made the most of it.

I had been to Norfolk once about 6 years ago, though I didn't have much of a chance to explore the city.  I have to say, it really is a pleasant town.

As you make your way around, you can't help but notice that the "Chrysler" name is attached to many of the city's philanthropic institutions, the most obvious being the art museum.

I was intrigued by this as I normally associate Chrysler with Detroit, but according to Wikipedia, the wife of the son of the original Chrysler hailed from Norfolk, so it all made sense.

We started off at the Glass Studio where we saw an hour long demonstration of what is admittedly a beautiful art that has an impressive amount of science contained within it. Our presenter, I thought, was excellent--informative and with a sense of humor.

Afterwards, we walked across the street to the actual museum itself. We were excited to see an exhibition celebrating 70 years of Smokey the Bear. The artist's various works (and the evolution of the tag line) were really interesting to watch and we learned that, in 1964, the US Postal Service assigned Smokey his own zip code. Today, you can tweet him...which I did.

The museum was also great for kids as they had a scavenger hunt, which enabled us to walk through most of the museum without the kids complaining...and instead were excited about doing it.

For our last stop, we visited the Nauticus museum which is adjacent to the retired battleship, USS Wisconsin.  It is packed with all kinds of information about why Norfolk is so important from a nautical perspective (it has the deepest water of any eastern US port) and historical (the US Navy's Atlantic Fleet is based here) and it was from here that Teddy Roosevelt launched the "Great White Fleet".

The museum was extremely kid-friendly and ours didn't really want to leave.  They enjoyed the exhibits and had a great time exploring the immense battleship. Even better, I think they walked away with a deep appreciation of what a battleship does (and what life on one might be like) as well as an understanding to some extent of the importance of ship transport.

Perhaps the most fun part of the day was how, prior to each stop, our kids would say "ugh, do we have to go there?" and then, during the visit, they would say "this place is great!"

I asked them afterwards..."so, how many times will we need to tell you that you are going to like a place and you will take our word for it and not complain before we go?"

Of course, I realize the's never going to happen.  ;-)

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