Friday, August 28, 2009

National Canal Museum

The Crayola Factory is in the same building as the National Canal Museum. Seems like a strange combo, but there you have it. After lunch on Team Day we debated whether or not we wanted to go to the canal museum: we had already paid admission (the $10 at Crayola is for both museums), but we were tired and frankly not really interested. I mean, canals are interesting, but a museum about them? Especially a museum on the third floor of a building; it isn't even ON the canal itself, which was a few streets over. But AJ pointed out an area called "mule harnessing" on the map and who could resist that? We decided to give it a whirl and if we were bored, we'd leave. Oh my goodness, the canal museum rocked! Who would have guessed? Because a lot of their visitors are kids because of crayola being downstairs, the entire museum was interactive. In the first half you each receive your own barge in the farmlands and load it with some cargo. Into the real water canal it goes and you get to be the mule pushing the boat along. But like the real canal it isn't just floating straight along; you have to negotiate tunnels and crazy elevators and, of course, the locks. Now i have visited the C&O Canal. I have seen actual locks and for the life of me i never really understood how they worked : close one section and flood it, then open a gate and drain it and blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Let me tell you, after you have done it yourself with your own little barge, it makes perfect sense. At one point you have to hold your barge still and drop a load of coal onto it from a hopper overhead at the side of the canal. Yikes. Once righted and properly loaded you continue along until to Port City, where you can sell you cargo Victory! There are interactives around the water about buoyancy and load. Once you turn in your barge and get dry, it is off to the the other half on the museum which was equally amazing; though what the heck is up with the puppet passengers on that barge? SCARY! There were a lot of tableauxs about life on and around the canal, most of them with some sort of interactive like washtub laundering but Amy and I HAD to figure what was up with the puppets. We finally found the open theater running a video about canal life, featuring the world's most alarming puppets. If hell was populated with wooden demons, they would look like these. It was captivating. It was so bad we couldn't take our eyes off of it. The plot of the video itself was pretty good and quite educational, but each puppet was more horrifying than the next. Did i mention the muskrats wearing carrot hats that spoke with french accents? Had it been available, I would have bought it on dvd just to show people i didn't dream it. So much time was lost in the theater of the damned that we barely had time to make it to mule harnessing. Unfortunately I was pretty punch-drunk by then and right after i snapped this picture and had a giggle fit because what the heck is she doing to that mule? i gave up on trying to learn anything else. The National Canal Museum was shockingly good and educational in the fun way. I definitely recommend it. But watch that video at your own risk.


Scopi said...

Yep, that looks much more comprehensive than any of the hundreds of local canal museums.

Niki said...

I sense your burning jealousy at not being there. If i ever find that video on DVD i promise to send it to you.