Cool Museums

After last night’s Canadian Association of Law Libraries closing banquet, held at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, I have a new “favorite” museum! What a great place! But it made me think about some other museums I really enjoy. I’d say my favorites, but most of my museum visits are transient so it’s not fair to place one against another when I can visit some whenever I like. So, here are 3 museums I think are outstanding!

These are in no particular order, but perhaps you’ve always needed a reason to take a road trip?

Corinth Interpretive Center (US)

Corinth is one of those cities that gets a lot of press if you read about the Civil War – lots of toing and froing here before the western arm of the Union Army started to push east.  We were driving south and stopped at the Corinth Interpretive Center as a place to stretch the kids legs.  The Center is part of the Shiloh National Military Park.

Wow!  This site is unbelievable and unfortunately off the beaten track.  If you are in or around Tupelo or trying to get from Nashville to the coast, it’s worth swinging over for.  The first thing you are struck by is the walkway up to the building, which is littered with battle artifacts:  buttons, shoes, hats, glasses, books, etc., that reflect the detritus of a battlefield after the fact.  The artifacts are recreated in some sort of resin.  As you get closer to the building, the artifacts get more substantial until you see whole parts of uniform, bayonets, etc.  Once you get inside, they have kid-friendly exhibits about the war and local history.

National Railway Museum (UK)

The British have an unfair advantage, perhaps, in having a railway museum, but you can see all the greats here.  Thomas the Tank Engine buffs will enjoy seeing one of the Flying Scotsman trains.  Fans of Dorling Kindersley cross-section books will love to see the Mallard in one piece.  There are loads of trains to climb on, miniature trains, and examples of every possible kind of steam, electric, or diesel train you can imagine.  Runner up for favorite train museum?  The Transport Museum in St. Louis.

Western Development Musuem (Canada)

We visited the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, branch of this museum – there are three more around Saskatchewan.  It’s a great place, focused around an indoor recreation of a 1910 street in a Saskatchewan boom town.  Unlike many sites that have this sort of attraction, many of the buildings had local people to actually operate the buildings:  blacksmiths working in the smithy, a saddle maker at the harness shop, etc.  And unlike most sites I’ve seen like this, they brought in all sorts of other interesting things:  mail-order houses, a complete sod house (with a recording of dripping water!), steam train, and huge collection of steam- or straw-powered tractors.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.