Monday, July 06, 2009

Greetings from Johnson City

Another quickie from Tennessee since we have to get up early on Monday. We got up Sunday morning and went to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, which is terrific -- two separate buildings, both designed in some ways like Baltimore's and Boston's big ocean tanks, but a more sophisticated version -- one houses ocean life, the other river life, and both have a top floor and many side galleries around the central tank with smaller animals and special exhibits (in this case, one on turtles and architecture, another on jellyfish and glass art, plus a fabulous penguin enclosure with a baby macaroni penguin and several gentoos sitting on eggs). Despite the holiday weekend, it wasn't very crowded, so we got to pet lots of animals in the touch tanks (rays, sharks, guitarfish, sturgeon -- not just little crustaceans here -- plus a rat snake held by a staff member), see lots of birds in the jungle and forest rooms, and have butterflies land on us.

After lunch we walked across the glass bridge to the Hunter Museum of American Art, which was free for the first Sunday of the month and is co-sponsoring the glass exhibit on jellyfish with a Dale Chihuly seaform display. There is also a special exhibit on views of the American West, plus collections of American impressionists, nautical paintings, and contemporary sculpture. I'm sure there was more, but we didn't have time to see the whole museum before we got on the road to Johnson City. On Monday we're going to see Grandfather Mountain, which has the highest swinging bridge in America and a wildlife center, before driving all the way back to Maryland which we will hopefully reach before the middle of the night!

Daniel and Adam petting a shark in the enormous touch tank at the Tennessee Aquarium.

These proud macaroni penguins are parents to the fuzzy chick hiding under his mother at right...

...while this pair of gentoo penguins is incubating the egg in the rock nest the male is gathering pebbles to build.

Adam in the middle of the giant spider crab tank.

The shark tank at the Tennessee Aquarium is smaller than the one at the Georgia Aquarium but it's easier to get close to the animals behind the glass.

This glass bridge connects the aquarium campus (which also includes an IMAX theater and places to eat and buy souvenirs) with the Hunter Museum of American Art, which has one historical mansion-style building and one new glass building.

You can see how thrilled the kids were by the time we reached the portrait collection. *g*

Jon Kuhn's beautiful Crystal Quadrille in the modern sculpture gallery. (No photos were permitted of the Chihuly installation since the museum doesn't own the rights to the artwork.)

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