ALL POSTS IN [Museums and Memorials]

Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa's first black president.

Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa’s first black president. (Photo: Getty)

The father of a nation has died, and flags throughout Nelson Mandela’s beloved South Africa were lowered to half-staff yesterday.

Tributes to Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s first black president, after 3 centuries of white domination — extended far beyond the country he helped free from a government-sponsored system of apartheid which, between 1948 and 1994, denied South Africa’s majority equal treatment under the law, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Jim Crow South.

Upon learning of Mandela’s death yesterday at the age of 95, Harlem’s Apollo Theater quickly adjusted its marquee to read, “He Changed Our World.” President Obama ordered all flags flying throughout Washington, DC, lowered to half-staff. And the South African embassy in Washington, DC, saw passersby leaving flowers and mementos by the statue of Nelson Mandela.

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Photo Courtesy of Perez Art Museum Miami

If you’re heading to Miami to dodge the chilly weather or to attend the Art Basel international art show this weekend, we have some exciting news to share. You not only get the pleasure of enjoying Miami’s premier art show and relaxing on South Beach, but can now visit the new Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).

The new 200,000-square-foot building opens its doors to the public this week. Located on Biscayne Bay, between the Arsht Performing Arts Center and the American Airlines Arena, PAMM features large, shaded verandas, a park and galleries with views of the bay, an education center and Verde, a waterfront restaurant.

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Photo Courtesy of Embratur

The vigorous sounds of beating drums, flags flying, fans singing and chanting; finally, the FIFA World Cup 2014 has come to Brazil. With the excitement of the tournament setting the scene, visitors to the 12 host cities should take the opportunity to absorb themselves in the local culture and experience the hidden gems that make each location unique.

São Paulo, the City of Paulistanos
True to its city motto of “Non ducor, duco,” which translates to “I am not led, I lead,” São Paulo will lead the celebration by hosting the first games of the World Cup. Located in the southeastern part of Brazil, between Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo is a major business hub, but its hospitable people, the “Paulistanos,” know how to enjoy the diverse pleasures of life through food, art and music.

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JFK assassination - funeral in DC

Photo: JFK Presidential Library

“From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official …”

Ask nearly anyone over the age of 55, and they can tell you exactly where they were when CBS newsman Walter Cronkite read the AP newsflash, confirming that America’s 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been publicly murdered at 12:40 p.m. CST in Dallas.

For Americans born in the decades since, this grim chapter in American life can now be relived in exhibits across the country, marking the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Some items have never been displayed before, such as the flag that draped JFK’s casket. Here’s where you can revisit a few of the historic items related to the JFK assassination, when America’s love affair with Camelot came to a violent end.

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Gettysburg Address anniversary events

Gettysburg Address 150th: Nov. 19 sees a day-long celebration of events in the historic town of Gettysburg

The tourist hordes that swamped Gettysburg back in July for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg won’t be back in quite the same numbers to celebrate the reading of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech Tuesday, Nov. 19.

But that doesn’t mean this month’s commemorations won’t be big, as the town of Gettysburg, and the nation, mark the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

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Why is the National WWII Museum in The Big Easy? (All photos: National WWII Museum)

Between Pearl Harbor and the end of the Second World War, railroads provided more than 40 million rides to Americans on active military service.

With that statistic in mind, the National World War II Museum will mark Veterans Day Nov. 11 with the opening of a stationary railroad car of 1940s vintage.

According to Clem Goldberger, a vice president at the museum, visitors on the Pullman car will feel like they’re actually moving — thanks to modern computer wizardry.

National WWII Museum railway

WWII train depot, recreated at WWII Museum.

“Everyone went off to war by train,” says Clem Goldberger, “and those who came back returned home the same way. Our train car will feature a video scrapbook and have vintage music. It’s going to really feel like it did during the war. Our guests will see 1940s America going by.” About the only thing missing will be the soot from the steam engine, she adds.

Now that you’re intrigued, you’re probably wondering: Just why is the National World War II Museum located in New Orleans in the first place?

The massive National World War II Museum, officially recognized by Congress, is located in New Orleans because founding historian Stephen Ambrose of Band of Brothers fame wanted to pay tribute to Andrew Jackson Higgins, the New Orleans-based designer of the amphibious landing craft that proved so decisive on D-Day, the day the Allies invaded Nazi-occupied Europe.

Pullman car at WWII Museum in New Orleans

Inside the Pullman car at the WWII Museum.

The boats were manufactured in The Big Easy.

Called the D-Day Museum before its enormous expansion, the National World War II Museum features several films, USO shows, 40s-style restaurants, and hundreds of exhibits and artifacts as well as a gift shop. A special Veterans Day program is planned for today.

A newly created website, www.myveteransday.org, is hoping to collect a million thank-yous for veterans who served in the American armed forces.

Learn more about the National WWII Museum at www.nationalww2museum.org.

 

About the Author: Former AP newsman Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ, is travel editor of Sirius XM’s Maggie Linton Show and New Jersey Lifestyle Magazine. He is also the author of 36 baseball books.


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Actual lifeboat from Maersk Alabama, on display at the Navy Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, FL.

Friday sees the release of Captain Phillips, the biopic starring Tom Hanks that tells the story of a merchant mariner and his crew who are taken captive by Somali pirates.

You may recall it was in April 2009 that the crew of the cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, was traveling on the high seas, 240 nautical miles southeast of a Somali port city, when terror struck: The ship was seized by 4 Somali pirates, and a harrowing ordeal soon followed.

In addition to the 2.5-hour-long film, you can learn the story first-hand at the Navy Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, FL, where the actual lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama now has a permanent home. Plus, for a deeper look into the actual story of what happened that day off Somalia’s shores, check out our own Don Wildman’s recent take on Mysteries at the Museum:

Were you planning on pitching a tent in a national park, taking in the beauty of the national seashore, or examining the art and artifacts housed in any of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and galleries this week?

If so, you’d better make other plans.

In addition to the 800,000 government employees who face unpaid days off now that the federal government has ceased operation, a shutdown spells a number of consequences for travelers, too. In his speech yesterday afternoon, President Obama put it bluntly, “Tourists will find every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed.”

While air travel and Amtrak service is not expected to be impacted by the shutdown, a number of popular tourist attractions have begun closing their gates, locking their doors and barricading their entrances. Here’s a rundown of just some the locations that are currently affected by the government shutdown.

National Parks

All of the National Park Service’s more than 400 parks, national monuments and historic sites are currently closed as a result of the government shutdown. On the National Mall in Washington, DC, monuments have begun to be barricaded and fountains turned off — a huge disappointment not only to expectant travelers but also to the 24 couples who were scheduled to get married on the National Mall during the month of October. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Alcatraz Island, Independence Hall, the Cape Cod National Seashore, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park are all be among the temporarily closed sites, which collectively average about 715,000 visitors per day in October.

As a result of the shutdown, all the parks have been closed today to visitors effective immediately, but travelers already camping in the parks have 2 days to pack up and leave.

Smithsonian Museums and Galleries

Visitors to Washington, DC, hoping to take advantage of the capital’s incredible array of free museums are out of luck today. Don’t count on seeing the Hope Diamond or Dorothy’s ruby slippers — all 19 Smithsonian museums and galleries have shut their doors, including the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American History and the Museum of Natural History. This also includes the National Zoo, leaving many upset at the new reality that the “panda cam” has gone dark.

So what should visitors to Washington, DC, do today? There are a number of museums not affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution – visit the International Spy Museum, the Newseum, the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Building Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the National Geographic Museum or the Phillips Collection.

American Military Cemeteries Abroad

Twenty-four American military cemeteries spread throughout the world have also been forced to close as a result of the shutdown. Anyone looking to pay their respects at any cemetery operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission will have to reschedule their visit.

What Else?

Be sure to check with your local passport agency before showing up today – while agencies will remain open, those located in federal buildings have been forced to close their doors.

While you wait for some of America’s most popular tourist attractions to re-open, explore (virtually, of course, since you can’t actually visit) the incredible natural landscapes and historic monuments that make up our country’s National Park sites. Then, test your knowledge with our National Parks Quiz – you’ll be an expert by the time congress gets their act together.

 

History buffs rejoice: Don Wildman is back with an all-new season of bizarre, confounding, creepy and downright shocking museum mysteries. Thursday at 9|8c, travel the country with Don as he examines the relics at the heart of the country’s most interesting tales. On tonight’s episode, Don examines a failed invention that helped create a multi-billion dollar industry, the bell of a ship whose crew vanished at sea, and a footprint of a lizard-like creature that roam the swamps of South Carolina.

Need to catch up before the new season begins? Flip through Don’s picks for the Most Shocking Museum Mysteries from the past 4 seasons. Then, head over to Museumist.com to read all about Don’s experience hosting one of Travel Channel’s most thought-provoking shows.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Travelers visiting Washington, DC, will notice something different about the city’s skyline. Although it’s closed for repairs, the Washington Monument is now lighting up the night sky. The National Park Service has installed 488 lamps on the scaffold surrounding the monument.

The rehabilitation is part of a welcome change. On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the 555-foot-tall monument, cracking and chipping stones near the top and shaking the mortar loose. The lights are expected to stay on until the popular tourist attraction reopens in spring 2014.

The Big Apple more your style? If you’re heading to NYC, there’s exciting news for tourists who want to check out Lady Liberty. Yep, after being hit by Superstorm Sandy last fall, the Statue of Liberty has once again opened to the public after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 4th.

You may recall that the National Park Service closed Liberty Island following Hurricane Sandy; however, the Statue of Liberty’s crown reopened after a year of renovations. Last October’s storm flooded and damaged New York Harbor docks and Liberty Island’s walkways, buildings and electrical systems, but the 126-year-old iron statue made it through the storm unscathed.

Looking for more sightseeing recommendations for these cities? Check out our list of Washington DC Attractions and Top 10 Attractions in NYC.

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