Monday, October 09, 2006

DAY 36 The Bell arrives at the Exploratorium

The current bell housed at the museum is a much smaller bell that was cast in China. The sound quality is thin and high pitched. It is pretty loud but it’s not a particularly rich or interesting sound. A poor replacement and stand-in bell for the once beautiful tones made by the old bell belonging to the Oppenheimers. People wanted to compare the 2 bells. SO we rang them one after another. Back and forth from one side of the museum to the other. As a comparison, the new bell sounded much better. It was like resurrecting a ghost. Suddenly, the museum sounded like it used to, and it was magical and wonderful to be transported back in time. Then, suddenly, both bells were sounding at once, and it was even more incredible. They sounded so good together. Two large, loud bells dominating - for one suspended moment - the entire museum. They were the loudest things going. Louder than the exhibits. Certainly louder than anyone speaking. It was impossible to say or do anything else for a moment, and it was glorious. For an instant, everyone was enveloped in the sound created by these 2 bells and that would be the sound that would close the museum everyday from now on. It couldn’t have been more wonderful.

So. That was that. We took the trailer back to the car, moved the bell into the theater for the weekend presentations and left. End of the road.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Day 36. The last piece of Road

I rang the bell all the way from my house to the museum. Non-stop. I was so sad to be parting from the bell. But once I got the Exploratorium and people were so glad to see the bell, I felt better. It’s like when you need to give the kittens away. When you realize that the kitten will be in a good home, you can let go.

So, off we went. Liz and Jeanne Marie had arranged a welcoming opportunity. Some for the old-timers from the museum were there to greet us, and the public was eager to ring the bell. Someone was mowing the lawn right next to the parking lot, so between that and the bell it was loud, loud, loud. Eventually we unhooked the trailer from the car and Liz and Pam wheeled it inside and I pushed- ringing the bell as we walked through the museum. We walked through a long corridor of people who were all ringing little bells as we passed. It was really nice. So many of those little tiny bells tinkling above the general din of the museum and the clanging bell. When we arrived at the skylight, there were more people waiting to ring the bell and to announce our arrival. Dennis Bartell, the director of the Exploratorium was there to tell people about the project and the significance of the bell in the history and culture of the museum. Then the ringing really began.