Posts Tagged ‘history’

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Alex: Auckland Museum

September 7, 2011

With most of my compatriots off gallivanting for spring break and me stuck here in Auckland, I was looking for things to do. A friend of mine Ida, the Norwegian girl whom I met on the tramp to Piha, suggested going to the Auckland Museum as it’s free for residents of Auckland. So we went together one afternoon last week.

We met around two o’clock in the afternoon, knowing that the museum closes at five, and figuring three hours would be plenty of time to explore. I think poor Ida didn’t know what exactly what she was getting herself into by inviting the likes of me to a museum. Museums are sort of my thing. I am a historian, after all, so museums fall quite squarely in my wheelhouse.

So we entered the museum and walked immediately into the pacific artifacts section, which occupies most of the first of three floors. I was not aware of just how well my study of pacific art and anthropology had prepared me for the experience of a pacific museum. As it turns out, it prepared me quite well, and because the only thing I love more than learning new things is explaining them to other people, I proceeded to give Ida the nickel tour. I’m sure she got sick of me quite quickly, but she seemed a good sport about indulging me.

So after the large Pacific history section, we entered something…else. I’m not sure how to describe it, and I feel that any title or name for this exhibit would not adequately explain it. It was, ostensibly, an exhibit of the English portion of New Zealand history, and while my Maori professor may cringe to hear me say it, I think it has a valid place. The English may be colonizers, but they did bring their own history to New Zealand. But that is not the weird bit. This exhibit slowly went from being about the English in New Zealand to being what appeared to be simply a dumping ground for old things. There was a collection of antique chairs, for example, and I use the term “collection” loosely. There were six chairs, and two of them looked like ordinary old chairs. The chair exhibit became our running joke for the remainder of the day. Any time we saw a chair, we would point out that it too should be part of the chair exhibit.

The second floor was dedicated to natural history, and seemed largely focused toward children, so we didn’t spend much time there. Ida and I compared large-grazing-animal stories near an exhibit of some sort of yak.

So we moved to the third floor, which held the various war exhibits. One would assume that I, as a military historian, would be excited for war exhibits, but one would not necessarily be correct in that assumption. There is a period of about a hundred and fifty years of military history that holds absolutely no interest for me. That being the period from about the beginning of the 19th century, up through the middle of the 20th. This is the period in which technology is advanced enough to have long-since outstripped skill in importance on the battlefield, but the technology is not yet complex or variable enough to hold my attention. This is the area in which all of New Zealand military history takes place. So we passed through the Boer War exhibit, a war that I as an American always forget about, and moved through the first and second world wars. We spent some time in the holocaust exhibit which was somber at best, and by this time we were both fairly well burned out. But there was one section to go, one section I had been looking forward to all day. There was still the armory.

We walked into the armory, and my eyes lit up like a child’s. My weary feet no longer ached and my slowly growing hunger disappeared entirely, as did my compatriot. She had gone to sit down, but it honestly took me a full minute or two to notice. There was nothing terribly fascinating in the armory, nothing I hadn’t seen before, but it was gorgeous and enthralling nonetheless. That’s not entirely true, there were things I hadn’t seen before, but I didn’t notice them at the time. When I noticed Ida sitting, she rejoined me and I made my lap of the exhibit as fast as my fluttering heart would allow. But as I was lingering on the sword wall, Ida made the mistake of asking which was my favorite. Before I could stop myself, what should have been a simple answer became a five minute lecture on the various uses and merits of each. Let me tell you, the best way to impress a girl is to lecture her about things she clearly has no interest in.

So we headed off out of the museum, and back toward our respective apartments. We discussed sports, running, and our Chucks. We parted amicably. But this was not the end of my museum adventure.

I returned to the museum the next morning. I skipped straight to the armory, where I lingered and took pictures for a solid hour at least. There were percussion cap revolver rifles that I had never seen before, a spring-loaded polearm which was new to me, and a few machine guns that had been made in New Zealand. None of this I had noticed before.

That was my museum adventure. An adventure in two parts. I didn’t learn much about history, but I learned quite a bit about how to visit museums with others without boring them to tears.

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Lauren: Quick updates

July 23, 2011

Tuesday, July 12 – For my communications class, we discussed the role of newspaper, and how it must be looked at analogically in order to find greater meaning.  It was very interesting, as always!  Our professor is absolutely amazing, and probably one of the best I have ever had!Sorry for the wait!  It’s been a very busy week and a half!  Here’s a quick summary before I get to the good stuff!

Monday, July 11 – We needed a day of rest from our busy weekend in Florence.  My roommate, Janel, made a fabulous chicken dinner and we stayed in for some roomie bonding!  We also watched the movie, “Letters to Juliet” which made me very excited to go to Verona!

That night, we went to an amazing spaghetteria.  I had pasta with smoked cheese, bacon, olive oil, and onions.  It was DELICIOUS.  After dinner, we (once again) went to karaoke, got ridiculous, and rocked the place!!  As always, it was awesome!  Several song highlights include Independent Woman (Destiny’s Child), Jitterbug (Wham), and My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion). 

Thursday, July 14 – Our communications professor took us to see an ancient “Domus” (aka Roman house) that was found beneath a palace in the center of Rome.  They believe it once belonged to a senator.  The house itself was discovered merely six years ago, while renovating the palace cellars.  Since then, the area has continuously been in a process of excavation.  The floor there was completely glass, so we were able to see under into the ruins at all times.  At first, it was a little scary, but ultimately I got used to it.  They did a really great job on the tour of incorporating sound and projections, which made the space come to life.  I think that my dad would appreciate the design elements they used, and I would love to take him here if we ever get the chance.

After this class, we had our Art History final.  Don’t worry, I rocked it. 

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Jessica: History, history, history

June 6, 2011

I feel like I’ve spent like 8 hours just learning about history. All day. Two hours learning Irish history with the founding and the development of the city. Then 4 hours learning about the history of random things in the city on a bus tour. Then another two hours learning about literary history on a pub tour. I’m tired of history for the rest of the summer.

The biggest things I noticed today, specific to my own experience and those around me:

  • It’s notable if you find a local. All tourists here.
  • I could get a meal deal of a 6 inch sandwich with a drink for 3 pounds (5 bucks) in Belfast and here it’s just 4.20 Euro for just a 6 inch sandwich. 
  • Customer Service is not common. AKA my friends waited an hour for their food at a restaurant, had to get their cold sandwiches thrown into a box and threw money down to pay because they had to leave; Jodie hadn’t gotten her food—they took her order but never wrote it down. No food.
  • I got a double Kraken and Coke in Belfast for 5 pounds (which is on the expensive side) and here, that same thing is 10 euro. Insane. 
  • There are more “hen parties” and “stag parties” here than I’ve ever seen in my life back home—aka bachellorette and bachelor parties. They take it to the max, make it a destination thing, everyone dresses up in a theme, and it’s usually something insane for men and promiscuous for women
  • Trinity College isn’t really real—it existed hundreds of years ago as a divinity school; it’s now Dublin University

This morning we were walking to our destination and all the sudden we hear a crack. We turn around and there was a man who had just fallen into the street and cracked his head. We ran toward him and pulled him off the street before the traffic light turned green. He was bleeding everywhere from his head and was breathing but passed out. We assumed he was severely intoxicated. Everyone was gawking as they drove by, naturally, but two cars stopped and one called 999 for help.

Bri and Shannon kept the man calm as he started to stir, and we waited forever for police and ambulance. There was some kind of wound on his side, blood smeared on his stomach, and some other scratches on his back. It almost made me vomit watching it all happen. It shocked me how passersby would just come up and ask him what was going on, if he was drunk, etc. I’ve never seen anything like that happen before.

Tomorrow I’m planning on walking around to the gardens, some shops just for fun, watching a boy’s choir sing at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and seeing Romeo and Juliet at Trinity! It’ll be nice to get a break from the group experience, as tensions have started to rise, and we need a break.

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Luke: Tower of London

January 28, 2011

I visited the Tower of London last week. Even though I had been there three years ago, it was well worth a second visit. It was actually getting a facelift so as to be sparkly clean for the Olympics, so a giant drawing covered the canvas draping over one side of the White Tower, showing scenes from the Tower of London’s bloody history. The chapel was actual conducting a service since it was Sunday, and Beefeaters really do live at the Tower of London with their families. Who are the Beefeaters? Well, today they are retired members of the British military who still wish to serve their country. Tourists know them mainly as their guides for visits to the Tower, though. Also housed in the Tower of London are the Crown Jewels, including Queen Victoria’s famous “mini-crown” and the crown that George VI wore to India. Many of the items there dated to the year 1661 or shortly after. This is because Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament destroyed many objects owned by the monarch or that were symbolic of the monarchy, which was restored under Charles II in, you guessed it, 1661. Some interesting traditional items were the Coronation Spoon, which is 800 years old and is now used to put oil on the new monarch during Coronation, and the Sovereign’s Orb, which is placed in the new monarch’s right hand during Coronation and represents the monarch’s role as Defender of the Faith of the Church of England. I also saw crowns containing diamonds cut from the Great Star of Africa, one of the largest diamonds ever found.

Outside, I walked on the green upon which many people were executed, including Queen Anne Boleyn, who demanded a particular style of execution, forcing King Henry VIII to get an executioner from France to come over to do the job. The oldest and tallest part of the Tower of London is the White Tower, which was built over 800 years ago under William the Conqueror. Nearby are remains from the original Roman wall which is 2000 years old. Inside is a great collection of armour and weapons from all periods of English history.

I also visited several buildings that are part of the Tower of London that have housed many famous prisoners. Sir Walter Raleigh was held at the Tower, the same one who tried to establish a colony on Roanoke Island and who, while inprisoned, wrote The History of the World. The best story about the Tower of London in my opinion is about the Princes in the Tower. The two brothers were the sons of King Edward VI and were living in the Tower of London (which was actually once a royal residence). The older one (Prince Edward, aged 13) was soon to be crowned king in 1483 after his father’s death, but that summer both he and his brother disappeared from the Tower of London, never to be seen again. Their uncle, Richard III, became king and is suspected of having the princes killed. Another suspect is Henry VII, who followed Richard III as king. He seems to have had a motive to get rid of the two boys, who were in front of him in the succession to the throne. Then again, we don’t necessarily even know that the princes were killed at all. I’d put my money on Richard III as the culprit, since the princes’ deaths directly cleared his path to immediately assume the throne.

Unfortunately this website can’t upload my pictures at the moment, so I can’t show you any. Hopefully they’ll get it fixed soon.

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