Many Downtown Museums. Some Are Worthwhile!by Jim Gressinger on Feb. 12, 2012, under Astronomy, Exceptional Museums, Local Attractions, Local History, Things To Do With The Kidz
Because Carolyn of Carolyn’s Community pointed out several days ago that Saturday February 11th all of the downtown museums would be open and FREE, Neighbor Roy and I set out to visit the ones we had never been to. Because Roy is ancient (age 78) and had to push me in my wheelchair, we only got to three, but that was enough for the two of us to pass on some observations to you.
The first place we went was the Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art, but because of the Gem Show at the Convention Center across the street, we were unable to find a place to park (legally). So we went down a few blocks to the Jewish History Museum.
when we arrived. The Jewish Museum is housed in an old synagogue built in 1910, and is not spacious. Yet it houses many serious exhibits related to the contributions of many Jews, such as the Drachman brothers, to the vitality of early Tucson. Did you know, for example, counting the current mayor, Tucson has had 5 Jewish mayors.
Your understanding of Tucson history will be seriously incomplete if you are not well-grounded in the Jewish
community’s contribution to the development of our city. One caveat. If you go, I suggest you arrange to visit at a time when a docent can be there to enlighten and entertain. Just seeing the exhibits and reading their captions, will not reveal the rest of the story – and that story is rich indeed.
On my review scale, the Jewish Museum gets 3 Saguaros, but four if the visit includes a knowledgeable docent.
The Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum is housed in an old fire station that once accommodated 6 or more very large fire engines. The space is big with tons of natural light. An excellent exhibit space. Unfortunately, the exhibits were few and definitely not excellent. Neither Neighbor Roy nor I could find any reason to recommend this place and we were in and out in less than 10 minutes. On my review scale of one to five Saguaros, the Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art gets a one. Lacking quality art exhibits, I see no reason for anyone to bother.
UA College of Science Downtown Exhibit. This little museum, if it can be called that, is a testament to the world-class space sciences at our University. For bleeding edge space exploration, our guys are tops. And Science Downtown shows this off to good effect.
The centerpiece of this exhibit is a film documenting the incredibly difficult retro-fit of the Hubble Space Telescope. Even when you know how it ends, this film will have you on the edge of your seat.
There are examples of space exploration history, of course, such as a 5 foot tall model of the Saturn V, the largest and most powerful rocket ever. But there’s also a bold vision for the future of interplanetary discovery.
Here you will witness the scientific work by UA teams on NASA’s HiRISE Mars high-resolution orbiting camera, the Phoenix Mars Mission science lab lander, the upcoming OSIRIS-REx, and more. If you care about our efforts to better understand our universe and the methodical search for intelligent life in the cosmos (apparently they gave up on earth), then this exhibit will fascinate young and old alike. It’s not the Smithsonian, but damn fine for Tucson. Four Saguaros.