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Strikingly Unconventional 'Museum' Opens in Downtown Westside
Submitted by deankjerland on Tue, 10/15/2013 - 9:30pm
I spent more than a year imagining a unique tourist destination place in our downtown appropriate for Northfield – appealing to us curious residents, our transient students, and particularly the visitors we court and value. Since my early musings, I have leaned that my 'cabinets of curiosity', a European phenomenon of the 16th century, may be back in fashion; and 'that rational amusement' is a quest of choice for the intellectually curious.
My opus is called 'Depot Diner...a museum'. It is actually a permanent exhibition in ArtOnWater Gallery and has taken over the spaces once solely devoted to the visual arts.
The museum's theme, appropriately, 'rational amusement', aspires to reward and amuse the visitor's curiosity with something unique and unexpected. Its uniqueness, in contrast to the 16th C. experience, is enhanced by the exhibit documentation, specifically creating a modern liberal arts perspective, and adding a deliberate public educational value to the otherwise silent objects in the collections - bringing to life the exhibits.
'Depot Diner...a museum' seeks the attention of the curious, and then, without raising expectations too
high, invites one in... It starts with the faux Depot Diner theme lettering on the storefront window... beyond the glass one sees a meter-deep mock restaurant. Romantic-era paintings hang in the faux Victorian creamy yellow field above the chair railing and warm brown wainscoting - a lace portiere to the left hints at something more inside. The framed 'mirror' reflects the street scene just outside in the 1890's. One notices the seemingly abandoned cafe table and chairs with its unusual table setting, and most curious, is the menu with its revealing Prix Fixe offerings.
The curious are guided by the signage around to the footbridge path and to enter on the north side of the 1890's-style brick building. Thru a door off the lobby, and inside, beyond the front desk, one discovers a series of galleries offering “an encyclopedic collection of rarities, curios, and antiques which encourages curiosity about the world”
My 'museum' is typically open Thur 4-7pm, Friday and Saturday 1-4pm, thru December. Daily admission tickets are sold on-site. A self-guiding 'Silent Docent' booklet supplements the exhibit descriptions. Various membership options are also available. The museum store and library is free.
For more information or to confirm hours, visit our website www.depotdinermuseum.wordpress.com.
'Depot Diner...a museum' is located just over the downtown footbridge, in the Kjerland Building,
at 217 Water Street South in Northfield, Minnesota.