Nine hours after leaving Madrid, I touched down in Charlotte, North Carolina where I continued my journey in attempts of making the Olympic Team. Something I learned in Madrid is that I could never simply train, and with something as important as the Trials looming in the future, I knew I needed to find a creative outlet.
Therefore, despite having been in Charlotte, both as a resident and a visitor numerous times in the last five years I decided to become a tourist again and hit up all of the important cultural institutions on my free afternoons, thankfully I had some killer companions who were willing to join me on my quest to see the cultural side of Charlotte.
My first stop was the Mint Museum Uptown with Sallie. We started our adventure at East Bar and Grill and Sallie taught me the ins and outs of “selfies”. Sometimes, I feel like that really uncool aunt who has no idea how to work technology…
We headed to the museum to see the exhibition called “Pumped” which sought to display the evolution of shoes from the 18th century to today. All of the shoes form a part of the collection of the museum, but it is the first time that they have ever been displayed in this manner.
After learning about the different procedures for tanning, stretching, and fitting shoes we moved into the second gallery room which was filled with many different models, some even dating to the last few years. We decided that with so many shoes present we would each pick our favorite three shoes, and surprisingly did not overlap on our choices. Below are our personal favorites:
Seeing so many pairs of shoes, really worked up an appetite and so we decided to visit the outdoor coffee shop for a little treat before visiting the rest of the museum.
Here is one of our favorite paintings of Saint Cecile from the permanent collection.
Our second outing was to the Mint Museum. Yes you are reading correctly, we did go back to the museum, but we did not go to the same branch. In Charlotte, the Mint Museum has two separate locations, and so, although we had seen the Uptown site, we had not been the Randolf location. Uptown is known for housing the exhibitions and other novel displays, whereas Randolf holds the majority of the permanent collection. On this outing, we were blessed with the presence of Chapman.
I was really looking forward to this trip because of the fabulous collection of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin American Art. It was such a treat for me to be able to explain the how the different pieces were used and formed pillars of the cultures in Latin America and see both the girls interest in these pieces.
Apart from this display, I was rather disappointed with the museum trip. Four years ago, I was blown away by the importance the museum placed on making the collection come alive for visitors. On our visit, we found other cultures to be remote and lacking contextualization. For example, in the African Art section had pieces together in the same vitrine from diverse parts of the continent, begging the question, was art in Africa similar across the continent? For those of us who are not specialists in the field, it is hard to understand the importance of the collection and the weight of the different pieces, without better contextualization.
That being said, we did enjoy the trip and I even emulated one of the sculptures in the garden. We’ll call is present day tableau vivant.
My final cultural outing was to the Charlotte Aviation Museum with Tripp. I might have been the expert when visiting the art museums, but Tripp was our aviation guru. About twenty to thirty planes are warehoused here at the Museum, including a replica of the first plane ever flown. Included in that list of planes, is the renowned Miracle on the Hudson that was successfully landed on the Hudson River in 2009. Below are few images of the plane, to give an idea of the damage accrued during that crash landing.
The best part of the museum was being able to climb into the cockpit of a few planes and pretend to fly them. I believe Tripp and I would form a great duo if we ever get the chance!
I know three museum trips do not seem like much, but to me they constituted emotional and intellectual breaks, which helped me to deal with the stress and excitement of the pending competition. What’s more is I was able to share these experiences with three very important individuals in my life.