Bag Girl Goes to Salem: Peabody Essex Museum and Witch Museum

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My film studies professor told us about an exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum called It’s Alive which features posters and props from classic horror and sci-fi films. It piqued my interest and so Jasmine and I decided that we would go downtown today since my only class was canceled and Jasmine did not have class until 3:05.

We were able to take the Salem State shuttle downtown. I had also wanted to see the Friendship, a reproduction East Indiaman ship which is sometimes docked in Salem harbor. Since it opens at nine o’clock, whereas the P.E.M. does not open until ten, we went there first but the Friendship was not in port. So we waited around until the P.E.M opened.

The It’s Alive exhibition is part of the collection of Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist for the band Metallica, who is a big fan of horror and sci-fi films. We walked through the doors, which made the creaking sounds often found in haunted houses, and saw posters for classic horror movies such as Frankenstein, The Mummy, and Dracula and film clips of their famous scenes projected onto the walls.

 

There was a piece of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory which zapped “electricity” in the form of light projection.

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as well as posters for films such as Lon Chaney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bête

The next part of the exhibition was made up of posters for famous sci-fi films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Metropolis.

My favorite exhibits were of props from the films Invaders from Mars and Invasion of the Flying Saucers which we dummies of alien creatures.

We also got to see posters for more recent horror classics such as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby.

On our way out, we saw a cut out advertising the 1933 film King Kong.

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Because we are Salem State students, Jasmine and I can get into a number of museums here in Salem for free. One of them is Peabody Essex. Another is the Salem Witch Museum. Jasmine and I went there to get tickets for the one o’clock tour and then got lunch at our favorite pizza place. The first part of the Salem Witch Museum is a room with wax displays telling the story of the Salem Witch Trials. We sat in the center and lights came up on each of the displays and a narrator tells the story.

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The second part of the museum explores the changing perception of the witch from wise and kindly ancient wise women, to satanic hags, to modern-day Wiccans.

I saw an add on Facebook this morning saying that the Residence Hall Association was running buses downtown to see the Halloween parade. I went to the seminar room of our residence hall around four o’clock and met up with Jasmine around four thirty. We enjoyed pizza from our Omega’s, one of our favorite places before boarding the bus. To our surprise, instead of just watching the parade, we got to be in it, marching to represent Salem State University. Our bus dropped us off where the parade was to begin. I saw a trio of people dressed up as Ghostbusters as we were walking in.  

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The parking lot was filled with cars decorated with different themes such as movies like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws, Pirates of the Caribbean, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The parade was set to begin at six thirty but since our group was at the very end, we did not get to leave until another forty-five minutes later. Jasmine and I volunteered to hand out candy to children as we passed. We also had our faces painted. I asked to be made to look like a broken porcelain doll, but I ended up looking like I have that grayscale disease from Game of Thrones. Jasmine was made to look like a black cat.

We walked through downtown Salem from the docks, where the parade began, to the Hawthorne Hotel, struggling to manage crowds of sugar crazed children. Salem is one of the best places to be during the month of October and today was an excellent kickoff to Halloween month.  

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Bag Girl Goes to The MFA Boston

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Since 2017 is the fiftieth anniversary of 1967’s Summer of Love, The Museum of Fine Arts is showing an exhibition on this seminal moment in American pop culture. Mom and I were eager to go see it after falling in love with the work of artist Peter Max during our cruise.

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Orpheus and Cerberus by Thomas Crawford

Today was the perfect day to go into the city: sunny and pleasant with a crisp autumn coolness. We took the 10:13 am train to Boston and arrived around eleven o’clock. By the time we got to the MFA, around 11:30 am, I was starving and ready for lunch. After getting something to eat, we went to see the Summer of Love exhibition. 

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Summer of Love Album Covers

After getting something to eat, we went to see the Summer of Love exhibition. It was in a small gallery and mostly displays of album covers, some of which, I imagine, were designed by Peter Max, since I know that he collaborated with the Beatles on their cover art. What the Beatles were to the sound of the 1960s, Peter Max was to its look. 

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Summer of Album Covers

The Summer of Love exhibition had its own little gift shop, where I purchased a beautiful book on Max’s work with a foreword by Neil Degrasse Tyson of all people.

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Summer of Love Album Covers


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Ancient Egyptian Beadnet Dress- Art of the Ancient World, Gallery 105B

I had made a list of my favorite works of art on display at the MFA and which galleries they are in. First on the list was the ancient Egyptian beadnet dress on display in the Art of the Ancient World wing, Gallery 105B. In a little activity sketchbook that they were giving out for free, I sketched all of my favorite artworks, starting with the beadnet dress.  

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Mrs. Billington as Saint Cecilia by George Romney- Art of Europe, Gallery 141

Next was Mrs. Billington as Saint Cecilia by George Romney in Gallery 141 of the Art of Europe wing, a painting I saw on the MFA’s Instagram page this morning and felt that I had to go see. We also looked in an exhibit of eighteenth-century porcelain, which I wanted to take all of home. 

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The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit by John Singer Sargent- Art of the Americas, Gallery 232

Upstairs in Gallery 232 of the Art of the Americas wing hangs one of the MFA’s most iconic possessions: The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit by John Singer Sargent who is one of my favorite artists. Aside from sketching an outline of its composition in my book, I also drew the two giant Japanese vases, similar to those found in the painting, which flank it on either side. We finished up our tour of Art of the Americas by looking at depictions of the elegant and privileged lives of the turn of the century elite done by Sargent, Cassatt, and Whistler.

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Haymaker and Sleeping Girl by Thomas Gainsborough- Art of Europe, Gallery 246

Returning to Art of Europe, we passed through galleries of eighteenth-century rococo furniture, including my dream bed, to Gallery 246, where the next artwork on my list hangs. Thomas Gainsborough’s Haymaker and Sleeping Girl is a romantic image of a rustic country lad staring longingly at a refined young lady, asleep under a tree.

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Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer by Edgar Degas- Art of Europe, Gallery 255

Last on my list was Degas’s Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer in Gallery 255. The section of the MFA dedicated to the nineteenth-century French Impressionists is one of my favorites in the whole museum. One of my new favorite paintings in the MFA’s collection is La Japonaise by Claude Monet which features his wife, Camille, wearing an elaborate kimono. 

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La Japonaise by Claude Monet- Art of Europe, Gallery 252

Mom had me check to see what time the train was coming. The time given on the MBTA ap was 3:15 pm, so we made a dash back to North Station. After checking the schedule there, we found that I had been wrong; the train to Gloucester was not coming until 5:30 pm. There was a train to Beverly coming at 4:30 pm, so we had Dad pick us up there.

Bag Girl Goes to Old Sturbridge Village

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I have not been to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge MA since I was six or seven, which is going on fifteen or sixteen years ago. Today, it was open for free as part of the state’s “free Fridays” program, so my mom and I went there to meet Ruth,  an old friend of her’s. The drive from Gloucester was about an hour and forty minutes.

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Old Sturbridge Village is a collection of buildings from all over New England that are preserved how they might have looked in the early nineteenth century, specifically the 1830s. The first building we looked at was a lower class house which smelt sweetly of dried apples and herbs. Out in front of it was a large, enclosed pasture where sheep grazed. I was able to feed one of the sheep a handful of grass; it tickled when the sheep nibbled away the grass.

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The next two buildings we visited were religious meeting houses, one Quaker, the other Congregationalist. The Congregationalists are now known as the United Church of Christ, the church to which Ruth belongs and is an ordained minister. Near the Congregationalist meeting house is the parsonage, where a minister like Ruth would have lived in the 1830s.

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Among the other buildings we saw were a schoolhouse, a cobbler’s shop, and a potter’s kiln and workshop. 

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At the farthest end of the village is a small dairy farm, where I got to pet a two-week-old calf named Norman. Inside the house, some women were making cheese. I knew from watching a number of documentaries on historical farming that a substance called rennet, a digestive enzyme found in the lining of a calf’s stomach, is used to curdle milk and turn it into cheese. The barn was filled with sweet smelling freshly mowed hay.  

We had to choose between a ride on a river boat or a hay cart since we had to pay for both of them. The hayride was what was chosen, which I felt was something of a rip-off. It only did a quick loop around the village square which I felt was not worth the six dollars we paid for it.

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Near the square is the finest house in the village, an elegant home which is where I would choose to live if I was a nineteenth century Sturbridge resident, and a store where I purchased a sandalwood fan (my old one broke), some postcards, a book on crocheting, and a book called Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. 

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Also near the village square is a bank, where I flirted with a well-dressed gentleman and asked if they gave out student loans. We popped into a house where they were making a quilt and knitting comforters, and a reproduction store with displays of goods which would have been sold there. My favorites were the fans and jewelry. 

On our way out of Old Sturbridge Village, we passed through its vast gift shop. I bought a packet of columbine seeds and a copy of The Hamilton Affair, a romance novel based on the marriage between Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler. We had a picnic of damp cold cut sandwiches on a grassy knoll near the parking lot. Mom and Ruth caught out while I did a preview read of The Hamilton Affair. I had to be at work in Gloucester by five o’clock. The traffic driving home was heavy and I had just enough time to quickly change my clothes and dash off to Market Basket.