Thursday, December 15, 2011

Field Trip

     Field trips to other museums are always interesting!  Museums often cooperate with each other - artifacts or traveling exhibits are often loaned to and borrowed from other institutions; artifacts can be donated, traded, or sold; research and information can be shared; and partnerships can be formed.  Cooperation between museums benefits everyone.  The institutions involved gain knowledge and can present better exhibits, and visitors can see artifacts they may not have gotten to otherwise.   

Our “Tools of the Trade” exhibit compares and contrasts equipment and supplies used by Confederate and Union doctors. We didn’t have quite enough Confederate items to display, so some of the items here are on loan to us from the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va. 

This is one of our artifacts, a wooden prosthetic leg which we have out on loan to the Virginia Historical Society.   It is currently part of their traveling exhibit, “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia.”

     Sometimes too, museums give away useful museum items!  Last Friday, Tom, Kyle, and I went to visit the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. to look at some exhibit cases which they no longer needed and were willing to donate to a nonprofit organization.  Museum quality exhibit cases are not cheap, so we were thrilled that they were offered to us!  And they seemed happy to be clearing some space for one of their new exhibits.  

I was like a kid in a candy store here, looking over all the available exhibit cases! 
Photo courtesy of Tom Frezza.

     You might not think there was any connection between a Civil War Medicine Museum and a Building Museum.  However, the National Building Museum is housed in the former U.S. Pension Bureau, which was built shortly after the Civil War.  It even features a terra cotta frieze on the exterior of the building, which depicts Union Army and Navy troops.  We spent a few minutes admiring it before we went inside!

Photo of terra cotta frieze on the National Building Museum found at

     We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, though I do have to admit that I was a bit envious of all the gallery space and storage space they have!  We didn’t get to tour the whole museum while we were there, but we hope to do that when we go back to pick up the cases.

     It appears that Christmas came early for the NMCWM this year – thank you National Building Museum!

Except where otherwise indicated, photos are courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

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