Monday, December 18, 2023

US Open 2023 - Day 1 - Visiting with Winnie-the-Pooh and His Remarkable Roommates

[Composed 8/31/2023]

After an easy (yet chatty!) flight to New York, Shira and I met up with one of my customer's for lunch at Norma. The food was delish, and I knew it was authentic because most of the menu items required a translation or explanation before I knew what I should order. I spend the vast majority of my time interacting with clients virtually, so it was a special pleasure to sit across the table and do some old school kibitzing.

After lunch, Shira and I dropped by the nearby and iconic New York Public Library Building. The impressive facade and the Atlas Obscura's promise that we'd see The Real Winnie the Pooh & Pals got us into the building. I assumed we'd wander around a bit, look at a small display case containing some ancient stuffed animals and be on our way.

We did start with the wandering part, which was pleasant enough. Apparently there are tours of the main reading room we didn't manage to catch. Still, the interior of the building we did see was  impressive. On the way out we then headed into to the Treasures Exhibit, where I assumed I'd find Winnie.

We walked into the exhibit and I found myself face to face with the massive 1874 Topographical atlas of the city of New York hanging on the wall. It took a few minutes to wrap my head ahead around the map's age and incredible detail. When I did finally move on, I made it only a few more steps when I found myself stunned by another impressive map. And so it went as I moved from topic to topic and artifact to artifact.

While I expected a small display, I found myself in a room filled with dozens (maybe, hundreds?) of the most precious literary creations every produced. We're talking a hand written copy of the Bill of Rights, a 1623 edition of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, a 1896 edition of Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, a 3rd century BCE(!) cuneiform tablet, and yes, Winnie-the-Pooh and Friends. They had a Megillah Esther produced in 1686, a haggadah published in 1731, and a 14th century mahzor on display. And these are just the beginning. There are many more impressive works in the collection to see.

To call this exhibit the library's treasures is still somehow a gross understatement. To stand among these works is a privilege and a testament to human achievement. Needless to say, I'd go back in an instant to browse these gems.

After the library, we decided to head downtown to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. We'd been to the memorial before, but hadn't yet toured the museum. Frankly, I was a bit smug about visiting the museum: I'd lived through 9/11--did I really need to go to a museum to tell me about it? Living a mile from where one of the planes struck the Pentagon, that day is etched in our memory. What could this museum to have to teach us?

Stay tuned to find out.

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