The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame is probably the most well known and popular place in Cleveland for people visiting the city. A tribute to and museum for everything relating to rock’n’roll, it’s an incredibly popular place to visit for anyone who enjoys the genre of music. Growing up in Cleveland, I’ve visited the Rock’n’Roll hall of fame too many times to remember. My school would take us there every other year in elementary and middle school, and since the museum would have a new exhibit or two every month or so, I also went whenever a particular exhibit caught my eye. Having been there so many times I feel comfortable saying that while the museum does do many things right, there is at least one major flaw with it.

Before going into that though, I’ll give a brief description of it’s layout. One thing that immediately catches your eye when arriving at the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame is it’s shape. Much like the Louvre, the museum is a giant glass pyramid, a design choice I’ll talk about a bit more later. Inside the museum there are many permanent exhibits and 2-3 temporary ones at a time. In the basement, and the largest floor of the museum, there are movies on the history of Rock’n’Roll that you can watch, an exhibit on different cities and the music they produced, and an exhibit on the origins of rock’n’roll. Along with this are also displays of some of the museums collection of famous instruments and outfits from performers, and props from famous shows. On the museum’s first floor is a permanent Beatles exhibit, and an exhibit on contemporary rock’n’roll artists. A spiraling ramp takes you up to the second floor and the inside of this ramp contains plaques for all the hall of fame inductees. The second floor is where the temporary exhibits are usually contained. The third and final floor is where the hall of fame’s most popular attraction is. Here there are dozens of headphones attached to the wall, and at each one, you can listen to the entire collection of music by any artist that has been inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. Many people have spent hours at this section of the museum.

The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame does many things right in my opinion. It works closely with local school districts to allow kids from all over Cleveland to come visit very cheap, it constantly has new, interesting exhibits on display, and the museum has been very beneficial to the city of Cleveland thanks to the number of visitors from elsewhere in the country that it attracts. Other things it could do better though. Those in charge of choosing who is inducted into the rock hall have been accused many times of letting personal politics influence their decisions. The yearly induction ceremony for the rock hall, an event that attracts thousands each year, is rarely held in Cleveland, often being held in other cities instead even though it would be a boon to Cleveland’s economy for it to be held in the city. The museum’s design itself is also often criticized. While definitely making it interesting to look at, the pyramid design of the museum had severely restricted the amount of floor space it has to display it’s collection. All in all though, I think the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame is greatly beneficial to the city of Cleveland, bringing in tourists year round, and providing an interesting, educational, and fun environment for kids in the city to visit.

A Trip to The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has always been my favorite museum to visit, and not just because I grew up so close to it. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is an excellent example of a museum done right. It’s educational, engaging, and fun, and it makes you want to go again and again to see everything there and maybe try to find the Easter eggs they hide throughout the museum that I’ll explain more about later.

When you first start walking through the museum, the first area you reach allows you to go to two of my favorite parts of the museum. The first is their incredible fossil collection they have on exhibit year-round. They have numerous skeletons of dinosaurs, including the most complete mount of Coelophysis bauri and some of the best preserved examples of Late Devonian Shale fish known to exist, like their fossil of Dunkleosteus terrelli, a giant armored fish from the period, that was always one of the first things I wanted to look at.

If you head outside from this area of the museum, you enter the live animal habitat, where they have numerous animals from Northeast Ohio. They have everything from skunks, to otters, to several kinds of owls and hawks. The animal habitat is best to visit in the warmer months of the year though, as many of the animals either hibernate or need to be taken inside for most of the winter months.

The museums also has an incredible display of of prints of Audubon’s “Birds of America” collection of his famous realistic prints of birds from all across North America. The prints are stunning in detail and the museum separates the birds into the areas of the country they can be found, with many even having examples of what the birds sound like available for you to play.

Another of my favorite of their year-round exhibits is their exhibition on insects. I personally am terrified of most insects in real-life but find them incredibly interesting to look at and learn about. The Cleveland Natural History Museum excels at allowing for this. The museum has an extensive display of all sorts of insects and arachnids. They have mounts of all sorts of butterflies and beetles, as well as living, caged examples of many spiders, millipedes, and other creatures you wouldn’t want loose in the museum.

One of the things the Museum excels at are it’s programs for children. Every weekend they have some sort of workshop for kids to come in and participate in, many of which I have fond memories of doing as a child. From letting kids handle some of the live animals, to workshops on fossils and where to find them around Cleveland, the museums provides many opportunities for kids around the city to come and be a part of the museum.

The thing that the Cleveland Museum of Natural History may be most well-known for though, is their habit of hiding easter eggs among their displays. Two of the most well known are a small plastic VW Beetle hiding among the mounts of real beetles, and the small chocolate Easter egg in one of the bird’s nests on display. They put others up for short periods of time occasionally, but these are the two that most everyone who visits the museum can find and usually have a laugh at.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History was one of my favorite places to visit as a child, and I’m always glad to visit it now that I’ve gotten older and see that it’s still just as amazing of a place as I remember. With their focus on making displays interesting and relevant, providing learning opportunities for local kids and schools, and hiding Easter eggs among their displays to keep people paying close attention to the displays, I feel as though the Cleveland Museum of Natural History does an excellent job integrating itself with the community it serves and making visits a pleasant and educational experience.

Democratizing History on The Internet: How Crash Course Makes History Lessons into Entertainment.

Crash Course is a Youtube channel featuring numerous educational videos on a wide range of topics. From literature to psychology and chemistry to ecology, the series tackles the fundamentals of numerous subjects in 5-10 minute videos. What makes Crash Course unique among many of the educational youtube channels is how successful it is at making their videos both engaging and accessible, without cutting corners on accuracy. The videos ratain one’s attention and don’t become overwhelming. The speaker in the videos, John Green, manages to explain often complex topics in a way that almost anyone can understand and learn from.

One of the more popular series of these videos is Crash Course: World History.

This series attempts to teach about numerous subjects in world history, such as debt and famine, in an entertaining, yet factual way. In this I think it succeeds far better than many museum exhibits. Unconstrained by the need for physical objects or space, and not needed to remain focused on specifics times or places. Crash Course videos tackle these broad subjects with examples from throughout history. If you’ve ever been curious about debt and it’s history, but don’t have time to read a 500 page book on the subject, then the Crash Course video on it does an excellent job explaining several prevalent theories about money and debt from the classical beliefs of Adam Smith to the more modern theories of David Graeber.

What I think makes this video series great is it’s mass appeal. These are videos that could be shown to school-age children in a classroom, enjoyed by an adult or home, or shown to friends as a neat youtube channel. In this way, and due to the nature of the internet, Crash Course becomes exponentially more accessible to the public at large than any museum can hope to be. Obviously, this creates a certain risk, since the people behind Crash Course don’t have the kind of pressure to be completely accurate that museums do. They won’t be fired for being wrong and could easily present a skewed version of facts to push their own agenda. Fortunately, this is where a particular strength of the internet as a whole comes in. With so many thousands of fans, if a video were to be grossly inaccurate, the comments on the video would be filled with calls for corrections, and in fear of losing fans, the Crash Course series has a strong desire to remain as accurate and impartial as possible, while remaining entertaining and accessible.

The internet as thoroughly transformed the way in which people get information today. Unfortunately, due to it’s nature the amount of inaccurate information available is quite large and often a problem. Fortunately, there plenty of people out there, from those behind wikipedia to those behind Crash Course, who strive to make sure there is accurate information available, and in the case of Crash Course, that it be entertaining and accessible to as many as possible. This democratization of information is the same thing so many museums are attempting to do today with their generally smaller audiences.