One of the most ambitious cultural venues in New England, this complex includes four impressive facilities, all for one admission price. The must-see George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum houses a fascinating private art collection that includes 19th-century American paintings by Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt. A Japanese antiquities room is filled with armor, textiles, and porcelain, as well as carved jade and rock-crystal snuff bottles.
The Museum of Fine Arts has paintings by Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer, and J. Alden Weir, as well as 18th-century American paintings and contemporary works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Frank Stella, and George Bellows. Rotating exhibits are open throughout the year. The Springfield Science Museum has an Exploration Center of touchable displays, the oldest operating planetarium in the United States, an extensive collection of stuffed and mounted animals, dinosaur exhibits, and
the African Hall, through which you can take an interactive tour of that continent's flora and fauna.
The Museum of Springfield History tells the story of the town's manufacturing heritage. Springfield was home to the former Indian Motorcycle Company, and the museum has a rich collection of Indian bikes and memorabilia. Also on the grounds is the free Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, an installation of bronze statues depicting scenes from Theodor Geisel's famously whimsical children's books. Born in Springfield in 1904, Geisel was inspired by the animals at Forest Park Zoo, where his father served as director. The statues include a four-foot-tall Lorax, one of his most popular creations.
May 24, 2011
If the Quadrangle was in New York City, it would be called the "most culturally significant museum grouping in the world." Springfield, Massachusetts, is one of the United States' most cultured mid-sized cities with its museum grouping, Olmsted park, andSt. Gaudens outdoor statues. These elements overwhelmed me on my visit here-- I expected little and got A LOT. In truth, only four of these five museums are 'world-class.." The G.W. Smith museum,
the Quadrangle's first edifice, is a collection of curios that you'd expect in some strange old man's house -- busts, Japanese Armor, and the largest collection of Chinese cloisonné outside of China! Strange tastes, strange place, but very fun. The other four museums are homeruns. The Art Museum, in particular, features important works by Impressionists, Renaissance painters, (with a particularly robust collection of Dutch Masters,) an modern art. This is the best art museum I have ever seen in a city with less than 300,000 people. No question about it. There's also a Science museum that features the United States' first planetarium, which was impressive.Later that night, they were having a Pink Floyd at the planetarium show. My favorite museums (I'm a geographical and topographical zealot) were the excellent Connecticut River Valley Museum, and the Museum of Springfield. It turns out that Springfield is a fascinating city -- it invented the motorcycle, the gasoline-powered car, commercial radio, UHF TV, American English dictionaries, even dog shows! And the proof is all right there. The Conn Valley Museum is a bit more Museum-ish, tracing the evolution of America's first --and still--Great River. It chronicles, for example, the rivalry between Springfield and Hartford, and now how the two cities are working together as the Knowledge Corridor. (This museum also got my psyched to visit Hartford -- the next stop on my itinerary.)