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Museum Mania for the McCaffery Clan

The McCaffery boys at the New York Transit Museum. Photo by Nell McCaffery

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who made the Blue Star Museum Program possible. It is truly an amazing gift to military families. By Labor Day, our family will have visited more than 20 of the country’s finest museums for FREE! This was a huge bonus for our family being that my husband’s new assignment for the USAF landed us in Manhattan.

This summer, we left the United States Air Force Academy in June and arrived in Gotham in July for my husband’s new assignment. Prior to heading to the Big Apple, we decided to visit “Honey and Grandpa Dave," who live in the Phoenix area. One day, we visited the Arizona Science Center. Not only did our two boys learn Morse Code, how to work a two-way radio, and other aspects of physics and engineering, but they also were able to participate in a Star Wars Lego Competition that was being held at the Arizona Science Center that day! A very fun day for two nine-year-olds indeed!

So far, we absolutely love living in NYC. It is an amazing place and we feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to live in this amazing city. That being said, it is still very expensive, so we are VERY thankful to all of the museums throughout the five boroughs who are willing to give military families the opportunity to visit some of the country’s finest museums for gratis.

So far this summer we’ve visited: the American Folk Art Museum, which had amazing quilts with stories “hidden within them," like those quilts used along the “Freedom Trail"; the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, where our boys could work as a team, be artists, and become part of Homer’s Iliad, all in the same afternoon; and El Museo del Barrio, which housed local Latino art that spoke to its viewers about tough social issues regarding the pros and cons of living in a big city. Visiting the museum in Spanish Harlem was a treat in itself, as the sounds, murals, and aromas of fantastic mom-and-pop restaurants landed the three of us a fantastic lunch!

At the Museum of Arts and Design, we met local artists in the midst of creating their art, while witnessing first-hand that the mind’s eye can play tricks on us while viewing art through different forms of media. At the Chelsea Art Museum, we found some interesting illustrations that portrayed many meanings, sometimes with juxtaposing points of view! The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is simply one of my favorite museums of the world, definitely gives the Louvre and the Uffizi a run for their money. It is so large that it took us three days to see everything, and we were all in awe of this place the entire time we visited. The Museum of the City of New York gave us great insight into the formation of our wonderful new home, a glimpse into various apartments of long ago, and what creative New Yorkers are doing to improve this amazing city.

We visited the New York Hall of Science, located in Queens, where our boys had a blast with various hands-on science experiments, presentations, and even partook in a cow’s eye dissection! Then there was the New York Transit Museum, located in a non-functioning, original subway station in Brooklyn. We were able to sit in subway cars from the early 1900s and walk through turnstiles from the 1880s. We were amazed by how horrible and dangerous the working conditions were for all the workers, yet amazed at the same time by the engineering of the subway system. Talk about a work ethic! Those folks worked hard, long hours for little pay and there was no room for whining or complaining. The work simply needed to get done, not only for the city, but for their own existence. At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, even the building is a piece of art, let alone the classics that are held within it! Finally, there was the Whitney Museum, where I had a day to myself to simply “ooh and aah” at various “classic art pieces and ponder some of the modern art pieces on the Upper East Side.

We still have about five to ten more museums we’d love to hit prior to Labor Day, but if not, there’s always next year!


The McCafferys of NYC


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