Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

My National Parks geekery continues: Sunday morning we took the ferry out to Georges Island for a picnic and an exploration of Fort Warren.

Looking across the parade grounds back west in the direction of Boston.
The fort itself was terrific. There were some great views of Boston and the rest of the harbor, plenty of space  to walk around, all of it beautiful. There were conveniently placed picnic tables and grills and the landscaping was a nice balance of cut back and yet still a bit wild in parts. Exploring the fort itself was exciting; some parts were pitch-dark and required a flashlight. I wished occasionally for more interpretation (we went into a building that housed enlisted men during the Civil War; how many? how, exactly, in those cavernous rooms?) .Fort McHenry had the jump there, with its re-creations of military fort life.

Some interesting - and outdated - political graffiti supporting the Irish Republican Army.
My favorite interior space by far - imagine a steampunk or costume ball in here!
The small museum on the island did some interesting things with its exhibitions. In particular, I liked the case showing the typical rations for those in different walks of life, from Confederate prisoners of war on up to Union officers.

Six different examples in all, starting in the near left.
The most sumptuous meal on the table.
I also liked the way the exhibits described daily life on the island, by breaking things down into the various times of the day, then providing object cases that visitors could open to see artifacts related to activities at those times of the day.

I would've liked more specific object labels inside the cases, though!
Finally, I thought the museum made brilliant use of space for its short film describing the history of Fort Warren - the screen descended from the ceiling to cover up a display about World War II, then rolled back up after the eight minute film was completed.

The film itself was pretty good, too, juxtaposing historic photographs with modern views from the same perspective.

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