It’s that time of year when everyone wants something, and, in turn, everyone feels obligated to buy, spend, acquire, wrap, send, deliver, bake, host, feed, comfort…WHEW! That’s a lot of work. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
But, here’s an idea: in lieu of buying useless junk for the people in your life who already have whatever they could possibly need, keep it simple. Take the money you’d normally spend on joke gifts and ugly ties and, instead, donate some of it to your favorite places. Museums and charitable organizations that focus on the human experience are a fantastic place to start!
And, when you need a creative gift for someone who perhaps doesn’t get out much but loves exploring new places, why not offer a gift certificate or membership to a place you already love, and you just know they’d love too?
Museums in particular are often overlooked in charitable giving, but they are exactly the kind of institution where donors can see the good their dollars are doing. When you give to a museum, you see the new coat of paint or the upgraded security system or the climate-controlled display cases that your money helps to buy. But that’s not all. Museums give so much back to their patrons, in the form of unique experiences.
Museums offer respite from stressful daily routines, and provide a calm, go-at-your-own-pace learning environment. Museums allow the visitor to experience incredible art, ideas, and events from our collective past, and frequently offer a window to the potential of our collective future. Museums offer demonstrations of lost skills, and hands-on classes to explore your own artistic ability. Museums bring great thinkers and creators to a wide range of audiences who might otherwise never get the chance to ask a pointed question of an expert in their chosen field. Museums give everyone a chance to discover new things on their own terms and in their own time. But most of all, museums give us so much for so little of our hard-earned money. And they do it with a smile.
Think about it; where else but at a museum can you see priceless artifacts for a little pocket change? Or, in many cases, for free? Where else but in museums can you spend an entire day staring at the same object, painting, or manuscript without anyone disturbing your concentration? Where else can you spend the day or week contemplating the same re-constructed dinosaur or investigating the contents of an original homesteader shanty without anyone questioning your sanity?
You guessed it! At your favorite museum.
So why not take a little time today, on Giving Tuesday, to say thanks to all your favorite venues that welcome you all day, all season (or all year) for just the price of a latte or a single taxi fare?
Most of these beautiful repositories of history and art receive little if any grant funding, and no tax dollars at all. That’s right, NO TAXPAYER SUPPORT. Yet a lot of them let you in the doors for free, or almost free, admission. Most of the employees are working at or just a bit above minimum wage, yet a large percentage of them have a Master’s degree or PhD–or more! These are experts in their field, with a vast wealth of knowledge and skill, yet they work for virtual peanuts. And most museums are also heavily dependent upon the generosity and hard work (for no pay!) of volunteers and interns. Think about it: how much does it cost to have a nice meal out at your favorite restaurant? How much for that entrance fee for ONE DAY at Disney? Can you spare little for your favorite nerdy getaway?
Here are some suggestions:
Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Association/ Almanzo Wilder Farm, Burke, NY:
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Tourist Center, Walnut Grove, MN:
Little House on the Prairie Museum, Independence, Kansas:
Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum, Burr Oak, IA:
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Pepin, WI:
Spring Valley Methodist Church Museum, Spring Valley, MN:
Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum, (aka Rocky Ridge Farm) Mansfield, MO:
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, DeSmet, SD:
The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island, NE:
Keystone Historical Society, Keystone, SD:
Historical Society of Cheshire County, Keene, NH:
American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA:
Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT:
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT:
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, Concord, MA:
…Oh, and, let’s not forget the academic organization that honors every aspect of Laura, and brings us together every few years for the one and only LauraPalooza:
Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association (LIWLRA):
…just to name a few. Feel free to add your suggestions, below!
Thanks for reading, and thanks for keeping the doors of your favorite institutions open with your generous contributions. Together, we can all help these happy places stay alive, and thrive!
New England Historic Genealogical Society presenting a public all-day Family History workshop Saturday, 2 August 2014 on the UMass-Amherst campus in Amherst, MA. Workshop fee is 50% off if you register by 18 July 2014. Reblogged courtesy of Dick Eastman; full details and registration link follow:
The following was written by the folks at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:
NEHGS, the Largest Genealogical Society in America, Brings its Expertise and Scholarship to Western Massachusetts for Family History Day
June 3, 2014 — Boston, Massachusetts — The entire family at AmericanAncestors.org and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is headed to Amherst, Massachusetts on Saturday, August 2, to offer a day of family history discovery and learning.
From their headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, the NEHGS staff of expert genealogists, historians, writers and researchers will bring their knowledge and expertise to the UMass Amherst Campus Center in western Massachusetts — where they invite the public to spend a rewarding day learning about family history.
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Ingalls Street, Nashua, New Hampshire. Directly across from the intersection is a little market and deli called “Nellie’s.” Little House fans get it, especially if they also like the LHOP TV show!
This aptly named deli is directly across the intersection from Ingalls Street in Nashua, New Hampshire. Little House fans are chuckling.
My sister Kate (left) and I met Alison Arngrim in June 2010 at R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut. Alison was touring in support of her book, CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE B*TCH. She shared some great stories of her time on LHOP television show, and also elaborated on her work with PROTECT.org, which endeavors to rescue children from exploitation and abuse, prosecute the criminals, and change laws as needed to better keep these criminals from being allowed to re-offend. My sincerest respect to Alison for her tireless efforts in defending children, and just being an “awesome. massive. decent!” human being… http://www.protect.org
Showing off my new 1896 Ulster last March…and the flannels underneath it! With thanks to the eternally patient Gregorio for the photo session, this is possibly the best series of photos in Laura garb to date. Of course, all that wonderful Laura garb is the product of the superbly talented Laurie, who deserves the highest of praise for the fantastic design and reproduction of so many period pieces. The Ulster takes my interpretation a giant leap forward, by offering yet another insight into the weight, scale, restrictiveness, functionality, and sometimes cumbersome nature of 1890s clothing.