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Aquarium & more

2012 October 13

Out and about quite a bit this past week, as I had family in town. Any more, it’s a challenge to find new things to do; since I moved to northeast Ohio several years ago, my mother has probably been here at least a dozen times. We’ve picked most of the low-hanging fruit. Somehow I keep finding things to do. A few observations on our most recent rounds:

First, the highlight was definitely the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. (It’s squarely in Cleveland, itself; the name may have been chosen to differentiate this from the one or two other aquarium projects which were being planned at one time.) This was good. Not cheap by any stretch, but there’s quite a bit to see and even touch, and the staff seemed very ready to engage visitors and share information. I was also impressed with the overall design of the place, such as a couple of aquariums you can basically walk through like a tunnel, plus the way that they’ve incorporated the structure of the old Powerhouse in a place or two.

Other things could be improved: their signs and interpretive panels seemed like they were both designed and produced on the cheap. They should have hired me instead, yes. That error aside, though, they’re doing the big things right, and should be a very nice addition to the city’s destinations.

Also new, the Museum of Contemporary Art, or at least it’s now housed in a brand-new building. This was okay; the building is cool, and what they have on display is impressive, but it’s a bit thin. They just opened in the new site, though, so I trust/hope that more is coming later on.

At least they had something to see, unlike the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. Going by guidebooks, their own web site, and their hours, I for one got the impression that they have at least some sort of permanent collection on display. But that impression was incorrect. Aside from the fact that it’s right next to Lake View Cemetery and it was a beautiful day for a walk, this trip was a complete waste of time.

(I can at least report, happily, that on one or the other trip back from the east side I found that Martin Luther King drive between University Circle and the freeway is nearly finished with a long-needed resurfacing.)

Two other spots rounded things out. One, the Shaker Historical Society. This is a splendid little-ish museum offering information about the Shakers and their onetime community in NE Ohio, and the area’s subsequent history as a suburban retreat for the affluent. (Given the latter, of course, they ought to have a good museum.) If you go, however, watch out for large wild turkeys ready and willing to challenge your right to the street.

Last but not least, I decided that Thursday would be a fine time to finally stop by the Christmas Story House. It’s a little early, but I’ve tried going in season before and the place is much more accessible two-and-a-half months before Christmas. And, honestly, that’s a good thing because while it’s neat, I think it would be really, really disappointing if you spent two hours waiting to enter. It’s an ordinary Tremont house which has been done up with old furniture and other vintage odds and ends to suggest the interior scenes from the movie. There’s also a small museum with some actual props, etc., from the film. One the whole, I thought it was okay but far from “wow.” Maybe snow would help, but in general I’m going to say that unless you’re a super fan, don’t expect too much.

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