It’s Good to Get Lost Sometimes.
By: Max Groce
I have never been to the Metal Museum of Memphis before today, and honestly I had no idea we even had one until a couple months when a friend told me about it. I have to say after today it’s one of the cooler places I’ve been in Memphis. I leave my house at about nine in the morning and start heading toward the Museum, I instantly get lost as I get closer and end up at the Memphis Port but then get back on the right track and finally arrive. You immediately notice when you drive up how tucked away it is on the side of the river bank. You park outside the fenced in buildings and walk through the wrought iron gates and subtly notice commanding works of metal art semi hidden in the gardens lining the paths to the old buildings. The old buildings have an antebellum feel to them in their design and placement being that the whole campus surrounds a courtyard that overlooks a bend in the Mississippi River. I make my way to a white building that is the library and find Michael and Rosie.
Michael quickly introduces himself and tells me about how he did volunteer odyssey too. He tells me how he liked the museum so much he came back to volunteer some more so now he volunteers every Tuesday. We’re in the Museum’s library at the moment, Rosie comes in and introduces herself and takes me on a tour of the grounds. She explains why the buildings look the way they do is because they were all originally a mercantile marine hospital. This explains the eerily spooky abandon hospital in the background of the museum. She shows me to the Metal shop and where they have their blast furnace and the black smiths are working away making repairs I imagine. The shop looks like a black smith shop would like in your head, it’s semi shaded, everything looks burned and it smells like a mixture of ash and burning iron. Kevin one of the smiths introduces himself and tells me a little about the shop. Rosie then shuffles me back to the library with Michael where we get to work with what will be doing that day. Our goal was to move a large book shelf out and move a glass class book shelf in, but before we moved the other shelf in we were going to paint the room.
Michael and I start to organize the bookcase; I take his lead because he seems to have a better idea of where things are supposed to go. We move the shelf out and then we go into a back room on the top floor where I start to see some things that really interest me. The back room is filled with old books. I mean really old, like some more then 100 years old. Their bindings are delicate and aged and they paper is all stained from time. We start moving the folios out of the glass book case and as we do I start to look at all them more closely and I find an awesome book called “A Farmer’s Guide to Explosives” which Michael and I laugh at. I see a small little book that looks to be old, as I open up it turns out to be a journal completely filled with very small handwriting. It starts to blow my mind how much knowledge about blacksmithing and metal art work is in this place. There’s seems enough that even if civilization was to collapse but the library remained intact, we wouldn’t lose our knowledge of smiting and metal work. We would still have not only all these guides but written suggestions and sketches from people through the years to still to guide us.
We finish up with moving the books and begin to tape off the edges around the room were about to paint. Before we start we go have lunch downstairs. Michael tells me how he lived in England for a long time and is a Medieval History major and Rosie tells me about how she is an art history major. We talk about the job market and the cool things you get to do while volunteering through volunteer odyssey. When lunch is done, Michael and I go back up stairs and begin to paint. I put my iPhone on Pandora and start. We don’t talk for a while, but it doesn’t feel awkward, it feels Zen like. I just paint the library listening to the music, every now and then hearing people walk through the museum upstairs on the hardwood floors. Michael and I joke about the differences between fans in the SEC west and before we know it the majority of the room is complete. I say goodbye to Rosie and Michael and go and sign out. Before I leave I walk through the courtyard. It’s a little after mid-afternoon and sun is starting to reflect off the Mississippi River. It feels brisk outside; you think it should be hot but the breeze off the water makes it feel perfect. I walk up to the patio that on the edge of the courtyard and look at the river for a second, I take a picture and realize how pictures really don’t do certain situations justice. After reflecting on the day I have to say I truly enjoyed my time volunteering at the Metal Museum today.
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