Travel Treasures
Nov/Dec 2007
Rush to gold exhibition at reborn New Orleans museum

Until the late 1860s, stagecoach drivers stored gold coins in green treasure boxes under their seats. American Museum of Natural History photo
This fall, the Old U.S. Mint reopened in New Orleans with a shimmering new exhibition simply called “GOLD” that is not only appropriate for the former minting building but also a shining celebration of the rebirth of the museum.

The exhibition, one of the most comprehensive collections ever on this valued mineral, is the inaugural exhibit for the reborn Old U.S. Mint, which is part of the Louisiana State Museum system and had been closed since Hurricane Katrina. Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York and The Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, the exhibition opened on Oct. 20 and will be on display in the French Quarter museum through Jan. 2, 2008.

Visitors will be astounded by a dramatic array of 700 extraordinary geological specimens and cultural objects from around the world, including natural specimens, coins, works of art and more. The exhibition follows the path of gold from the molten depths of the Earth to glittering examples of artifacts created by ancient civilizations, from gold rushes that shaped the world to the modern pop-culture baubles that mesmerize us today.

Some exhibition highlights include huge nuggets of gold, such as the 26-pound “Boot of Cortez,” the largest nugget ever found in the Western hemisphere. Other treasures include some of the first gold coins ever minted, pre-Columbian jewelry, gold bars and rare Spanish doubloons from sunken galleons. Modern objects include an Oscar, two Emmy awards and a Grammy award, illustrating the powerful hold that gold continues to have on our imagination.

Visitors can walk through a 300-square-foot room completely covered in three ounces of gold flattened to exquisite thinness, as well as determine the value of their weight in gold.

Located at 400 Esplanade Ave., the museum is located in the only building in America to have served as a U.S. and Confederate mint. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. For details, call (800) 568-6968 or visit

Ocean Springs will be overflowing with art during festival

An artist at work at the festival. Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce photo
Downtown Ocean Springs, Miss., will be awash with artists and artisans during the 29th Annual Peter Anderson Arts and Crafts Festival during the first weekend in November.

Named after the brother of Ocean Springs’ more famous artist, the late Walter Anderson, the Peter Anderson Festival features more than 300 vendors and draws nearly 100,000 visitors. On Nov. 3 and 4, the downtown area will transform from a busy business district to an outdoor shopping center filled with artwork. White tents will line the streets offering everything from wind chimes to shimmering jewelry, glazed pottery, and colorful canvases. Artists will sit carving creatures out of wood, shaping objects out of metal and molding characters out of clay.

Ocean Springs, located on the Gulf Coast near Biloxi, is known for its eclectic surroundings with hand-painted chairs that have creative faces appearing in the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center and an old sewing factory covered in murals painted by hurricane relief workers. The city is home to hundreds of shops, art galleries, restaurants and quaint bed and breakfasts.

The festival is organized by the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, Main Street and Visitor Center of Ocean Springs to celebrate the artwork of the Andersons and to give artists across the nation a chance to display and sell their artwork. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art, located in the heart of downtown, will be a participant in the festival with children’s activities, much-treasured items from the museum gift shop and a performance by the Gulf Coast Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Other music and plenty of food will fill the downtown streets during the festival, which has been selected as one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events.

For more details, call (228) 875-4424, or visit online at

As the weather cools, activity heats up at the Global Wildlife Center

Visitors can see two new baby giraffes. Cheryl Schneider/Global Wildlife Center photo
With fewer crowds, cooler weather and amazing animal behaviors, the fall and winter are the perfect times to visit Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, La.

Indeed, visitors to Global Wildlife Center this November and December will get eye-to-eye with two new baby giraffes born this summer. There are few experiences that compare to feeding a baby giraffe.

Fall is a dynamic time of year at the preserve. Guests will witness dust flying and antlers clashing as the male deer fight for dominance. Love is in the air, and the normally silent savannah will be bursting with bugling and other animal calls.

The cooler weather also brings out the friskiness in many species. Visitors delight in the enthusiasm of the animals who feed from souvenir cups. They are all storing up for winter.

On many days in November and December, you might witness a “feed-up” during the last tour of the day. More than 1,000 pounds of food is broadcast from a tractor, and thousands of animals on the 900-acre preserve congregate in a field for one communal feeding, an amazing sight to behold. Visitors can call the center to inquire if a “feed-up” is taking place when they are attending.

Also, on Dec. 1, 8 and 15, the center will host Reindeer Games with free activities for children. Santa makes a special appearance, and children can participate in crafts and visit Santa’s “reindeer” on safari. These Saturday events occur from 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Folsom is 13 miles north of Covington. The center is located at 26389 Highway 40. Tours are held daily; call for tour times at (985) 796-3585. For admission and more details, visit

Little Rock museum reveling in 80 years of revelations

Among the museum’s exhibits are vibrant masks. Museum of Discovery photo
In its 80 years of operation, the Arkansas Museum of Discovery in Little Rock has grown remarkably to become a premier science and history museum, and now it is offering its youngest visitors their own room to grow.

The museum, located in the city’s River Market area, has unveiled a new permanent exhibition called Room to Grow in conjunction with the 80th anniversary of the institution. Designed for children from birth to 8 years old, the 3,000-square-foot area features learning opportunities and hands-on exhibits, such as a pirate cove and a castle.

Founded in 1927 as the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, the center began focusing more on science and technology a decade ago and adopted its present name. It merged with the Children’s Museum of Arkansas in 2003.

The museum now features dozens of interactive exhibits. Visitors can learn about electricity, see a tarantula and explore the human body.

Located at 500 President Clinton Ave., the museum is open from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults and $7 for seniors and children 1–12. For details, call (501) 396-7050 or 1-800-880-6475, or visit

Rendezvous recalls rough frontier era in Arkansas

Tomahawks will soar through the air and campfire smoke will linger around Petit Jean State Park during the 10th annual Mountain Man Rendezvous in late fall in Morrilton, Ark.

Presented by the Early Arkansas Re-enactor Association from Nov. 23–25, this primitive mountain man camp will feature a variety of demonstrations including muzzle loading rifles, tomahawk throwing, cooking, ironworking and more. Many handcrafted items will be for sale; however, there will be no food vendors.

The Mountain Man Rendezvous pays homage to the historical events held annually in the 1820s–1830s in the still-wild America. Then, fur trappers–later called mountain men because they spent many years together in the mountains hunting fur–brought their harvest to an annual rendezvous at some previously appointed spot where they received their year’s wages and obtained new supplies. The rendezvous was an occasion of rough celebration. Indeed, for many of the mountain men, it was the nearest approach to civilization that they had for several years at a stretch.

American mountain men were tough and self-reliant, able to survive in the wilderness alone. They became the primary explorers of North America and were instrumental in determining the present boundaries of the country.

Admission to the rendezvous is free. For details, call (501) 727-6510, or visit

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