18 and Counting
So yesterday was it, the big one eight. 18. To celebrate, I decided to sleep in. Yesterday we visited 3 museums: The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and the Motown Museum.
Respectively, these visits were harrowing, enlightening, and uplifting.
The Museum of African American History’s main exhibit, titled Rise Up, ranged from African origins to the horror of slavery, to segregation, to modern challenges and accomplishments. There was a great deal of overlap between segments of this exhibit and the exhibits of Underground Railroad Freedom Center. What stood out yesterday was the breadth of time and space covered in the halls of Rise Up and the profound violence and injustice to which African Americans have been subjected. From Solomon Northrop, the man whose personal tale inspired the film 12 Years a Slave, to the case of Dred Scott, the museum profiled centuries of stories, laws, and inequality.
Following our visit there, my mom and I traveled far and wide, all the way to the Detroit Institute of the Arts, located directly across the street. Affectionately known by locals as the DIA, they quite literally had everything: an entire atrium dedicated to ancient Greek and Roman art, medieval suits of armor (spoiler alert, they look nothing like they do in Game of Thrones), Van Gogh’s famed self-portrait, and much more. I spent the better part of an hour marveling at the Roman sculptures and proofreading translations for the Latin inscribed on their pedestals. Meanwhile, my mom sought out the Mary Cassatt canvases she had read about when deciding to visit the museum, as well as massive murals by Diego Rivera detailing the wonder of Detroit’s industry.
Also worth noting is the Star Wars costume exhibition the DIA was hosting, including Darth Vader’s iconic suit and other landmarks of the Star Wars universe from the original trilogy, to the prequels, to 2015’s The Force Awakens. My mom thought the inclusion of a Star Wars exhibit was egregious pandering to the public’s palate; I thought it was cool to see the puppet they used for Yoda. The museum’s curatorial team did a tremendous service to viewers by elaborating not only on the designers’ intent for the costumes but also by explaining the biases and assumptions that designers tap into when using clothing to connote certain aspects of a character. From Renoir to Rey (the main character of the newest trilogy), it was a phenomenal museum, and the 2 hours we spent here were the highlight of my day.
Last but not least, we paid a visit to Hitsville, U.S.A, the home and genesis of Motown. The museum featured original artifacts and preserved studio space thanks to Berry Gordy’s sister, who saw the value in holding onto the place where music history was made. Though I did not grow up with this music, I recognized enough of it to sense the magnitude and relevance of the songs and the cultural barriers they broke. I’ve had Marvin Gaye stuck in my head for 32 hours now, and I can’t say I mind.
In between these cultural excursions, we went to some very healthy eating establishments which my mom detailed in her post yesterday. If you’re ever in Detroit, I recommend the mac ‘n cheese at Slows BBQ. It’s so good, you forget how many calories you’re consuming. Thanks for reading and for tagging along on this summer’s grand cross country exploration.