Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Small Treasures under Our Noses

Mary and I went to an opening exhibit at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.  The Bowers is one of those small, originally private museums that always seem to have something interesting to see along with their standard collection of pieces.  This time it was an exhibit called Warriors, Tombs, and Temples, featuring some of the Terracotta soldiers from the Han period in China.

We had seen the tombs when we visited China some twenty-five years ago, and the exhibit brought back several pleasant memories.  I also learned several new things.  The Han Period was roughly from 200 BC to 200 AD and encompassed the period where the very developed Asian countries flooded the emerging Rome with items such as precious jewels from India and food, animals and silk from China.  In return the Roman Empire exposed Asia to gold and glass and porcelain art.

The route originally was a land route called the Silk Road.  Eventually, when ships became seaworthy, the route had an alternative route through the South China Sea, the Pacific, and eventually the Mediterranean.  That sea option did not become common until the time of Christopher Columbus who was inspired by the land travels of Marco Polo.  So the Silk Road had a history of some 1600 years.

We celebrate the history of Christopher Columbus this next Monday, remembering him not for opening the seas to trade with Asia, but rather for his four trips to the Western continents in an unsuccessful effort to find China.

A little known commodity of the travelers along the Silk Road was Bubonic Plague.  The rats with their fleas accompanied the traders and were responsible for wiping out more than a quarter of the European population in the Middle Ages.

One of the nice things about the Bower Museum is the fact that you can see the exhibits in a relatively short time.  The night we visited 250 people were assembled in four shifts to view the items on display at their own pace.  There was music, entertainment and wine for purchase to occupy one’s time until their group was allowed in.

We belong to other museums, some large and some small, including the Orange County Museum of Art (small) and the LACMA and LA Natural History Museum (large).  While we do not go to all on a regular basis, we mostly find at least one exhibit a year to make our membership worthwhile.

In my book “Harnessing a Heritage” I devote one chapter to museums and call for parents and grandparents to expose their children and grandchildren to the experience from an early age.  I repeat that in this post and hope that some of you will take it to heart.  There are few things near to us that provide a greater value for a short period of time.

In my next post I intend to share with you why Mary has a fondness for Bill O’Reilly.  Her reasons may surprise you.

No comments:

Post a Comment