According to Consumer Reports On Health, a publication of Consumers Union, almost every older person experiences some hearing loss. “Much of it is caused by a lifetime of exposure to loud noise. When communicating with an older person is difficult, the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association suggests reducing background noises, beginning conversations with casual topics, keeping sentences and questions short, allowing extra time for a response, listening actively, and looking for hints from eyes and hands.”
In many museums, reducing background noise is among the greatest challenges while touring, especially when gallery surfaces are hard and sounds reverberate. In such cases it may be best to give visitors things to look for, or consider, prior to entering the area and then holding discussions after exiting.
Excitement on the Gulf Coast
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art is dedicated to the pottery of George Ohr, who was born and raised in Biloxi, Mississippi. George Ohr was a potter who astonished the art world with his contradictions of the rigid standards and expectations applied to art during his time. Today, he is considered among the first modern artists in the United States and has been designated one of”America’s Treasures” by the United States Department of the Interior.
Frank O. Gehry, an architect who also has astonished many with his unconventional designs, is creating a new museum to house Ohr’s works, as well as works by regional artists and classrooms for art-making. The anticipated opening for this new museum campus is early 2005.
An Allegorical Tale
A 92-year-old, petite, poised, and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied (even though she is legally blind) moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of nearly 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet curtains that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room . . . just wait.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind.
“I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice. I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed being thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away just for this time in my life.
“You see,” she continued, “old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from it what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my memory bank. I am still depositing.”
Exploring the Museums of Mexico City
Mexico City is among the busiest and most exciting cities in the world. Filled with cultural institutions, most Mexico City museums are open daily except Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. A nominal admission fee is charged (usually between $1.50 and $4 US ). Perhaps the best way to visit museums and other sights in this crowded and bustling city is to hire a private guide. You can usually do so at your hotel or by contacting “Grupo Cultur” (tel. 52.55.5564.0652 or 5574.6353), which will furnish you with an English-speaking driver. Expect to pay roughly US $50 for the day (plus gratuity). La Palacio de Bellas Artes, (The Palace of Fine Arts), 1 Centre Historico, tel. 5709.3111
Museo Frida Kahlo, Calle Londres 247, Coyoacan, tel. 5554.5999
Museo Leon Trotsky, Calle Viena 45, Coyoacan, tel. 5554.0687
Museo de Arte Moderno, Paseo de la Reforma y Gandh, Chapultepec Park, tel. 5553.6233 www.arts-history.mx/museos/mam.
Palacio Nacional, on the Zocalo, Centro Historico, (no phone)
Museo Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, Calle Diego Rivera 2, San Angel, tel. 5550.1518
Museo Mural Diego Riven, Colon 7, Centro Historico, tel. 5612.0354 www.arts-history.mx/museomural.
“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator12.3 (Spring 2003): 8-9.