Birds and Waterworks
Last weekend I checked off two birthday list items: visiting an art exhibit with live animals and visiting a local waterworks museum.
I read about the Peabody Essex Museum’s exhibit From Here to Ear in the newspaper. The Peabody Essex is a great art museum in Salem. I hadn’t been in a few years, so was looking forward to seeing Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s exhibit with live birds and electric guitars.
Cindy and I visited the exhibit during its last weekend. The exhibit was so popular that patrons had to buy timed tickets in advance and there was a standby line when we arrived. Around ten electric guitars were set up horizontally around a room that 70 zebra finches were temporarily calling home.
The birds flew around the room at random and often landed on one of the guitars, striking a chord when they landed. A few of the birds I watched pecked at the strings with their beaks, so I assumed they had made the correlation that they were producing the guitar sounds.
The birds were domesticated, so they were comfortable around people. It was fun to watch them interact with people, the guitars, and each other. I was reminded of visits to butterfly gardens as they zoomed to and fro. Hearing their chirping among random guitar chords was definitely a unique experience.
The following day I visited a local waterworks museum. The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum has only been open for three years and I was quite impressed with my visit. There wasn’t a ton to see—the majority of the museum is in one large room—but the small exhibits were interactive and informative.
The museum is in a beautiful Beaux Arts style building. It was built in the late 1800s, when Bostonians thought that even a municipal building deserved to be grand and elegant.
The Chestnut Hill Pumping Station housed the huge steam engines and water pumps that supplied Boston with its water. It was the first municipal water system to employ biologists to monitor the water supply to make sure it was clean and didn’t carry water-borne disease.
As the Boston population grew, a bigger reservoir was needed. Today Boston gets its water supply from the Quabbin Reservoir, but the Chestnut Hill Reservoir is available for use in emergencies.
My visit made me stop and think about how lucky we are in the States to have access to clean water. All we have to do is turn on the tap. We don’t have to gather it from wells like my grandmother did in Pennsylvania, or walk to a dirty supply like people in developing countries do.
If you haven’t seen any recent documentaries on the current and future state of water, I encourage you to. Water is going to be more precious than oil someday. Conserve water whenever you can and don’t buy bottled water! In most cases, it’s not any purer. And the huge companies (Poland Spring, Coke, etc.) basically take the local water, bottle it, and then sell it back to residents at an exorbitant price. And don’t get me started about fracking.
I’ll get off my soapbox now and leave you with some photos of the Waterworks Museum.