Where Will You Go For Free Museum Day?

Cartoon Art Museum - free museum day
Flickr, Kim Smith

Whether you are traveling in the U.S. or having a staycation this Saturday, be sure to include some culture. September 28 is Museum Day Live! (aka Free Museum Day), when museums all over the country open their doors without charging admission.

The annual event is inspired by the Smithsonian museums, which offer free admission every day. You’ll have to register and download your free ticket in advance, which will get two guests in free to participating museums.

A few of our favorite museums participating:

Chicago
Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago’s art museum is always free, but this weekend is also the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and museum-goers can also enjoy free concerts in the sculpture garden.

Dallas/Ft. Worth
American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum
Regular price: $7 adults
Serious airline nerds, frequent flyers and those on a long layover can check out this museum of aviation and American AIrlines history, just a few miles from DFW airport. Exhibits include a rare Douglas DC-3 plane.

Las Vegas
Burlesque Hall of Fame
Regular suggested donation or gift shop purchase: $5)
What’s Sin City without a little strip tease? See costumes, props and photos documenting the history, traditions and stars of burlesque dance.
Los Angeles
Grammy Museum
Regular price: $12.95 adults
Pop music lovers can check out four floors of music exhibits and memorabilia. The current exhibition features the career of Ringo Starr, including an interactive drum lesson with the Beatles‘ rhythm man himself.

New York
Museum of Chinese in America
Regular price: $10 adults
Learn about the immigrant experience in New York’s Chinatown in a building designed by Maya Lin. Current special exhibitions on the glamour of Shanghai women and the role Chinese-American designers in fashion. Follow it up with dim sum in the neighborhood.

San Francisco
Cartoon Art
Regular price: $7 adults
Take your comics seriously? This is the art museum for you, with 6,000 works of cartoon cels, comic strips and book art. Best. Museum. Ever.

Washington, D.C.
Museum of Crime and Punishment
Regular price: $21.95
Value the free admission and your freedom at a museum dedicated to criminals and police work. Fans of police procedural TV shows will enjoy the CSI lab and the filming studio for “America’s Most Wanted.”

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! No, It’s Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty Plane
Jackal Lin, Flickr

You’ll either be purring in content or scratching your head at this one, but get ready because Hello Kitty themed aircraft are set to debut in the United States.

EVA Air has announced it will begin flying a Boeing 777 featuring the popular cartoon character on its Taoyuan-Los Angeles route, immersing travelers in all things Hello Kitty during the 13-hour journey.

The Taiwan-based airline has been flying jets outfitted with Hello Kitty themed décor in Asian countries for a number of years, but it’s the first time such aircraft will be flown in the U.S.

The airline is still putting the finishing touches on the interior of the plane, but they have released a few details about what passengers can expect. Aircraft bathrooms will feature Hello Kitty branded soaps and lotions and cabin crew will wear pink Hello Kitty aprons featuring a large 3D bow and an image of the famous feline.

If the planes are anything like the ones operating in Japan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, we can also expect to see Hello Kitty adorning the headrests, pillows, boarding passes, and luggage tags. But the most incredible part has to be the Hello Kitty themed meals, which feature intricately carved desserts and morsels of food shaped like the cartoon character herself.

The first Hello Kitty flight will debut in the US on September 18.

Hello Kitty Food
leesean, Flickr

National Portrait Gallery Opens Two Civil War Exhibits

National Portrait Gallery, Civil War
The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., is commemorating the Civil War with two new exhibits.

The Confederate Sketches of Adalbert Volck” looks at the work of a rebel dentist who became one of the Confederacy’s leading political cartoonists. Unlike most German immigrants, who sided with the Union, Volck was an active rebel who not only fought the Union with his pen, but also smuggled much-needed medical supplies to the South. The exhibit runs until January 21, 2013.

More famous is photographer Mathew Brady, whose portable photographic studio is shown above. “Mathew Brady’s Photographs of Union Generals” make up the second exhibition. Numerous high-quality images of the Union’s leading and lesser-known generals will be on display. The exhibit runs until May 31, 2015.

The exhibitions are part of a continuing series at the National Portrait Gallery marking the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Full-body scanner / pat-down controversy gets the cartoon treatment

Taiwan’s Next Media Animation has turned the spreading controversy over airport full-body scanners and pat-downs into a cartoon.

full-body scanner pat-downThe animation house releases news videos each day on YouTube and provides English translations for some of the videos.

The animation summarizes – and mocks – the recent incidents in the United States when air passengers have refused full-body scans and pat-downs – the Travel Security Administration’s recently released enhanced security measures.

Among the scenes in the video:

  • A cross-dressing male passenger fights off a TSA agent’s advances and reveals undergarments with explosives and a tag reading “Osama’s Secret”
  • Protestors wave signs that read “Don’t Touch My Junk”
  • The name of the full-body scanner manufacturer is “RapeScan Systems.”
  • Naked passengers take over a plane on Nov. 24, which protestors have deemed National Opt-Out Day.
  • A female passenger requests that her pat-down be done in private, and is taken to a room with a king-size bed and a seductively dancing TSA agent.

Anthony Bourdain creates animated web series

I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain and I love No Reservations. A show that combines travel to places both exotic and familiar, pure rockstar gluttony and classic Bourdain snark – how could it go wrong? So when I heard that Bourdain was creating an animated web series for the Travel Channel (relax, it will NOT be taking the place of No Reservations) I figured it couldn’t be anything less than awesome.

Based on the sneak peak, the show looks like its going to have plenty of Bourdain’s signature sense of humor. In the first episode, “Robo Chef,” Bourdain laments how much effort it takes to create the perfect celebrity chef – all that work and then they go off and get their own talk show! – so he decides to make one himself. But when he accidentally puts in Rachel Ray’s brain instead of Alton Brown’s, things go awry.

According to Bourdain himself, future episodes won’t be all about his issues with Food Network chefs. They’re designed to be alternative versions of No Reservations – “representing things we never could have done on the actual show – or representing the way things should have gone on the show – or animated acknowledgments of what already went terribly wrong on the show.”

One of the six webisodes will be posted on the Travel Channel website each month. The first will debut November 2nd.