Wednesday Postcard: The Exploratorium in San Francisco

©️1983 The Exploratorium

Hello! This week’s postcard features “Words and Colors” from the Illusions and Other Surprises Postcard Exhibit at The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception.

Instructions:

“Read this card aloud — but rather than reading the words, say the color of ink that was used to write each word. It’s not easy; the written words have a surprisingly strong influence over the actual color. The Exploratorium’s Language exhibits let you explore some of the patterns of meaning you make with words, sounds, and symbols.”

San Francisco (2017)

I enjoy visiting museums and I’m glad to see many of them gradually reopening after being closed since the pandemic began.

From 1969 to 2012, the Exploratorium was located at the Palace of Fine Arts. In April 2013, it opened its doors at its new location: Fisherman’s Wharf at Piers 15 and 17.

The Exploratorium is a popular school field trip destination, too! I went as an elementary school student, and in recent years, my daughters have gone there with their classes. I was even a chaperone for one of their field trips to the interactive museum.

There are hundreds of educational, entertaining, and hands-on exhibits at the Exploratorium. My favorites include:

  • Sip of Conflict (video)

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

Visiting Berlin: “Like You! Friendship – Digital and Analogue” Exhibition

Please note: These pictures were taken in February 2020, before the non-essential travel restrictions were put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Museum für Kommunikation in Berlin is a 5-minute walk from the historical landmark, Checkpoint Charlie. It is housed in an elegant building that was built in 1898. During World War II, it was badly damaged, but it was reconstructed and renovated over the years. In 2000, the building reopened as the Museum of Communication.

In Germany, there are Museums für Kommunikation in Frankfurt and Nuremberg (Nürnberg). There’s one in Bern, Switzerland, too.

Museum für Kommunikation Berlin| 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

It was a sweet coincidence that when my dear friend and I took our children to the interactive museum, there was a special exhibition on view called “Like You! Friendship – Digital and Analogue!”

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

The exhibition invites visitors to think about answers to questions, such as:

  • What is friendship?
  • Is it possible to find and meet new friends virtually on social networks?
  • Or does making friends still require real-life contact in the analog world?
  • Does friendship function in exactly the same way in digital spaces as it does IRL (in real life)?
  • Where do we draw the line between networking and friendship?

Although studies have shown that people with friends experience increased happiness, the exhibition points out that people who identify as “loners” have a distinct personality type. They are emotionally self-sufficient and lead fulfilled lives when they’ve found a friend in themselves.

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

You can have a seat here and listen to the “sounds” of friendship (I’ve added a short playlist of friendship songs below.)

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Artists Nanne Meyer and Eva-Maria Schön have been friends for over 30 years. They both live in Berlin, but decided about seven years ago to send each other postcards with their own designs. Here are some of the postcards they’ve exchanged over the years “inspired by the desire to brighten each other’s day”:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

The following display asks visitors “What does friendship mean to you?”

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Discovery Tables

At the Discovery Tables, visitors are invited to explore their own friendship history.

The table below illustrates where people first met their friends:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

Looks like many people made friends at school:

My dear friend and I first met at work in San Francisco:

At this Discovery Table, visitors are asked, “How long have you known your best friend?”:

Museum für Kommunikation | 20. Feb 2020

You take a color-coded sticker that corresponds to your age and you stick it on the board (on the right) that applies to you: (I’ve known my best friend) “for 5 years, for 10 years, for 20 years” and so on.

I know it was just for fun, but it was harder than it looked. If the exhibition’s intent was to provoke more questions, then they’ve succeeded!

First of all, you have to define what “best” friend means, in my opinion!

I spent a tad bit longer at this table because questions kept popping up in my head about “best” friends:

  • Is it the person you’ve known the longest? 
  • Is it the one who has helped you through tough times? 
  • Is it the one with whom you’ve never had a big fight? 
  • Is it one’s spouse or life partner? 
  • Can one have more than one best friend? 

Often we think about what we are getting from friendships. But we also need to remember what we are giving to our friendships. Two questions I need to ask my friends are:

“Am *I* a good friend?”

“Am I meeting your friendship needs?”

Friendship – Analog

One of my favorite childhood friends and I met in middle/junior high school, but we went to different high schools. Instead of talking on the telephone, we wrote letters to each other. We maintained our epistolary friendship all throughout college. In our best cursive, we immortalized our thoughts on pretty stationery and sent them through the mail. I know, it was very Victorian-era!

But the anticipation of receiving a reply in the mail was thrilling! The arrival of a missive provided that giddy feeling similar to seeing presents under the tree on Christmas morning!

Museum für Kommunikation (permanent collection) | 20. Feb 2020

Our analog method of keeping in touch through “snail mail” worked well for us until email became commonplace. The digital chirp of “You’ve got mail” simply did not hold the same charm as getting a tangible stamped envelope in your mailbox!

This digital method of communication proved to be “too fast.” We learned soon after that we actually didn’t have much to say via email.

Friendship – Digital

Even before the pandemic forced all of us to switch to virtual communication tools, I’d been keeping in touch with my friends primarily through email, SMS/text messages, and social networks.

More than ever, we’re relying on mobile apps and various video conferencing platforms to get in touch, stay connected, and keep the twinge of loneliness at bay.

Virtual communication tools like these are absolute lifelines! Not only do you keep the connection strong across the miles and time zones, but when you do see each other again in person, it won’t be awkward.

I text my dear friend in Berlin almost every day about things both big and small — la vie quotidienne. So when I saw her in February, it was like I had just seen her yesterday!

I’m curious to know: How do you keep in touch with your friends? How do you define “best” friend?

For more information:

Like You! – Museum für Kommunikation

*More to come on my visit to Berlin and the Museum für Kommunikation*

Extra! Extra! Visit the Newseum Before It Closes

With seven levels, 15 galleries and 15 theaters, the Newseum is considered one of the world’s most interactive museums – it’s a news museum!

The mission of the Newseum, located in Washington, D.C., is “to increase the public’s understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment” (Newseum.org).

Sadly, the Newseum announced earlier this year that it would be closing on December 31, 2019, due to financial challenges.

Back in 2008, I had planned my vacation around the spring opening of the Newseum at its new home on Pennsylvania Avenue (it was moving from Arlington, Virginia). Well, it turned out I got the dates mixed up! I went to D.C. during the last week of March, but the Newseum wasn’t scheduled to open until April 11, 2008!

March 2008

I didn’t really feel like smiling here (March 2008)

It was a huge letdown for me, but I finally got the chance to visit the Newseum in May 2017 – it did not disappoint!

May 2017

I spent about two hours inside and saw many fascinating exhibits, such as:

Lady Gaga’s famous meat dress

You can see the Capitol from the Hank Greenspun Terrace

9/11 Gallery

The good news is that this closure could be temporary. They’re looking for a new home, so maybe they will re-open one day in another location!

In the meantime, if you’re in the area, be sure to go to the Newseum before it closes on December 31, 2019. It’s a must-see attraction in Washington, D.C.!

For more information:

The Bill of Rights – Amendment I (National Archives)

National Archives (March 2008)

Newseum – Hours, Admission, Printable Visitors Guides in 9 languages, and more

Find many U.S. cities’ newspapers in the Newseum’s popular exhibit: Today’s Front Pages

Have you been to the Newseum? Tell me about your visit in the comments below!

Like I’ve Been There Before: ‘Friends’ 25th Anniversary Pop-Up Experience in San Francisco

Fans of the hit comedy, Friends, will have a blast at the show’s 25th Anniversary pop-up that recently opened in downtown San Francisco!

view of Market Street from the second floor of One Powell

Located inside the AT&T Flagship Store at One Powell (in front of the Cable Car Turnaround), visitors can enjoy two floors of interactive digital displays, view actual props and costumes used on the show, and step into recreated show sets, like Central Perk and Monica & Rachel’s apartment in West Village.

It was my first time at the Friends 25th Anniversary Pop-Up Experience, but the spot-on sets and familiar memorabilia on display made me feel… like I’d been there before!

not sure why I’m knocking here – after all, I’m “inside” apartment 20!

Enjoy two floors of interactive displays:

Look through the peephole and view a short clip from the show:

Record your cover of Phoebe’s famous song, “Smelly Cat”:

Read lines from scripts:

Visit the mini Friends museum with real costumes and props from the show:

Chandler’s Halloween costume

the award that Joey stole, plus Rachel’s wedding garter

Find Friends-themed merch at the Friends Boutique:

Check out the couch that Ross, Rachel, and Chandler tried to carry upstairs:

… and the fountain and orange couch from the opening credits:

Central Perk:

Watch the video for the Friends’ theme song here (from YouTube – All rights reserved) >

Your Friends will be there for you, but this Pop-Up will be in San Francisco for a limited time! ☕️

Are you a big Friends fan like me? If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d pick Phoebe (she’s kind, plays guitar, and speaks French)! Who’s your favorite Friends character? Tell me in the comments below!

Visiting Seattle: Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

I had been wanting to return to Seattle ever since the Experience Music Project, or EMP, opened in 2000. Over the years, the museum has gone through a few name changes. Today, it is the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, for short! And I finally got to visit!

If you’re a fan of Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Prince, Pearl Jam, science fiction, horror, or fantasy films, video games, and music in general, MoPOP is a must-see when you’re in Seattle.

It’s easy to get to the museum: Take the Seattle Center Monorail from Westlake Center and it will take you directly to the Seattle Center where the famous Space Needle is also located.

Designed by world-renowned American-Canadian architect, Frank Gehry, you can’t miss the beautiful MoPOP structure – it’s massive!

Watch the Monorail go through MoPOP in my 26-second video:

It takes about three hours to see everything at a leisurely pace.

Here are some of my favorites at MoPOP:

“Ceci n’est pas un sweater”

“This is not a sweater” with 70-yard sleeves by Japanese fashion label, Comme des Garçons

“If VI was IX” guitar sculpture

Jimi Hendrix Exhibit: Wild Blue Angel

a print of Jimi Hendrix’s photo at London’s Royal Albert Hall

Photos by Jennifer

Nirvana Exhibit: Taking Punk to the Masses

a form letter that Nirvana used to send to fans

funny captions on photo that would become the cover to Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind

Prince from Minneapolis Exhibit

replica of motorcycle from Purple Rain | photo by Jennifer

Pearl Jam Exhibit: Home and Away

photo by Jennifer

Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction

photo by Jennifer

space suit from the Mork and Mindy show (1980s)

Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film

Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic

Judy Garland’s Dorothy dress from The Wizard of Oz

Indie Game Revolution

photo by Jennifer

In the interactive Sound Lab, you can play drums, keyboard, and guitar. You can record vocals and mix a track, too!

My 2 cents: Although it’s a family-friendly museum, visitors under the age of 16 might get bored. Otherwise, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Overall, I found MoPOP informative, entertaining, interactive, and fun!

For more information:

MoPOP – official website

For fun:

🎸Watch Jimi Hendrix perform “Foxey Lady” (Miami Pop 1968)

🎸Watch Nirvana perform “All Apologies” (MTV Unplugged)

🎸Watch Pearl Jam perform “Alive” (BBC)

🎸Watch Prince perform “Purple Rain” ☔️ (NFL Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show)

🎶 (Videos from YouTube | All rights reserved.)

This post is #3 of 6 in my Visiting Seattle series.