Explore Providence: Other Museums

Culinary Archives and Museum
315 Harborside Blvd., 401-598-2805
“An educational resource for Johnson & Wales University, the community at-large, food scholars, and the food service industry.” Certified foodies aren’t the only ones who will enjoy this museum — with holdings in advertising, an African collection, molds, commercial kitchens, cookbooks, home kitchen items, menus, packaging, photographs, and art, there is something for just about everyone. Permanent and temporary exhibitions include Dinner at the White House, featuring presidential menus, photographs, and china; and Culinary Beginnings, tracing the culinary heritage of China, Korea, the Silk Road, ancient Egypt, and classical Greece and Rome.

The trip by bus takes just over half an hour from the Providence Biltmore hotel. Check with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority for specifics on routes and fares.

Governor Henry Lippitt House
199 Hope Street, 401-453-0688; David Wrenn, Lippitt House Administrator: dwrenn@preserveri.org. Note that at this time of year, the Lippitt House is only open by advance appointment — see information below.

The Lippitt House is a fascinating window into the lives of an elite nineteenth-century Providence family. Built in 1865, this Renaissance Revival structure was home to merchant Henry Lippitt and his family, and very few changes have been made over the years. “Embellished with elaborate faux finishes from the walls to the ceilings, marble statues, colorful stained glass windows, ornately carved woodwork details and monogrammed dining service the family was ready to entertain in high style.” The house showcases the impressive skills of local craftsmen, and still contains most of the family’s furnishings.

Tours can be scheduled online at the website or by calling the museum office at 401-453-0688. Tours should be scheduled as far in advance as possible (there is no minimum number required).

Governor Stephen Hopkins House
15 Hopkins Street, 401-421-0694
One of two Rhode Island signers of the Declaration of Independence, Stephen Hopkins purchased a house in 1743 that had originally been constructed several decades earlier. To it he added a two-story structure that stands today as one of the oldest extant buildings in the city. George Washington slept here (twice). It is currently owned and operated by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, and is open Saturdays and Sundays, 1:00-4:00pm

Located at the intersection of Hopkins and Benefit, you can see it on your walking tour of Benefit Street.

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
In Manning Hall on Brown University’s Main Green. 401-863-2065
Brown University’s teaching museum, offering exhibits, public lectures, performances, symposia, festivals, and a broad range of programs and events for all ages. See their schedule of exhibits to see what will be on display in early April.

John Brown House
52 Power Street, 401-273-7507
Another site to see on your Benefit Street tour, the John Brown House Museum is administered by the Rhode Island Historical Society. The first mansion in Providence and one of the grandest of its time, it was completed in 1788 for John Brown, businessman, politician,  statesman, and slave trader who amassed a fortune in the China Trade. Some of the original furniture includes a bookcase and nine-shell desk that are considered to be among the finest remaining examples of American Colonial furniture.

Try to ensure that your visit coincides with one of the available tours, where docents share unflinching anecdotes that help bring to life the house, its colorful inhabitants, and their place in Providence history. Between April 1 and November 30 tours are scheduled for the following days and times: Tuesday-Friday: 1:30pm and 3:00pm; Saturdays: 10:30am, 12:00pm, 1:30pm and 3:00pm; closed Mondays and Sundays.

Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
1000 Elmwood Avenue, 401-785-9457
Located in beautiful Roger Williams Park, this small but enjoyable natural history museum opened in 1896 and features collections that are about 85% natural history and 15% cultural materials. With many objects originating in Rhode Island, there are also items from around the world. The cultural collections comprise mainly North American archeological artifacts, but also include ethnographic objects such as baskets, textiles, tools, and carvings with from Oceania and Native North America.

During the time of our conference the Planetarium offers shows lasting about 35 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm.

If you are visiting the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, you may want to check out the Botanical Center, the zoo, and a number of other attractions that are also in the park. We’ll soon be sharing more information on this in a post about parks and cemeteries. Stay tuned.

The trip by bus to Roger Williams Park takes just under half an hour from the Providence Biltmore hotel. Check with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority for specifics on routes and fares.

Roger Williams National Memorial
282 North Main St., 401-521-7266
This is a small park commemorating the life and legacy of Rhode Island’s founder Roger Williams. After being banished for Massachusetts for his religious beliefs, he found Providence in 1636 as a site of religious freedom, where anyone could follow his conscience without the interference of government. The visitor center is also small, but features exhibits with information about Roger Williams and the early colonial history of the area. You might consider visiting in conjunction with your walking tour of Benefit Street.

Slater Mill
67 Roosevelt Ave., Pawtucket, 401-725-8638, info@slatermill.org. Note that during March and April the museum hours are Sat. & Sun. 11:00am – 3:00pm.
Slater Mill is a fascinating museum complex that brings the American Industrial Revolution to life. Located on the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, the Old Slater Mill (1793) was the first successful factory in the US. Dedicated to the production of cotton thread until 1829, it later produced  jewelers’ tools, coffin trimmings, cardboard, and bicycles. Today the complex comprises Old Slater Mill; the Wilkinson Mill, built in 1810; and the Sylvanus Brown House, built in 1758, with archival materials, hand-operated and powered machinery, a theatre, gift shops, a gallery, and a recreational park.

The trip by bus takes just under half an hour from the Providence Biltmore hotel. Check with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority for specifics on routes and fares.

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VRA 31: Upcoming Deadlines for Early Bird Registration & Conference Hotel Rates

(posted to the VRA listserv by Cindy Abel Morris, VRA VP Conference Arrangements)

Dear VRA Colleagues,
Greetings with a periodic advertisement for the 2013 conference, VRA 31,
just over a month from now in Providence, RI.

Today’s focus is time!

#1. A reminder that early bird (discounted) registration for the conference
ends in two days, on February 28.
http://www.vraweb.org/conferences/vra31/registration/

#2. Hotel rates are guaranteed only through Sunday, March 3.  According
to the report I received this morning, there are still a variety of rooms
available each night of the conference, but for some options, there is
limited availability.  Don’t wait!
http://www.vraweb.org/conferences/vra31/accommodations/

#3. This is a wonderful hotel in a vibrant location.  Block out some time to
wander both the Providence Biltmore and Providence itself!  SCHED can help:
http://vra2013annualconference.sched.org/

#4.  Making the most of April 3-6 – Yes! there is wireless in guest rooms
and in meeting rooms.  There is a large Starbucks accessible from the
lobby.   Our meeting rooms are arrayed on the 2nd and 17th floors, with
convenient elevator access between them.

#5.  The conference website has loads of information well presented
http://www.vraweb.org/conferences/vra31/news/ — but if you have additional
questions, feel free to contact me, cdabel@unm.edu

See you in Providence!
Cindy

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Visitor Information Resources

As you prepare for your trip to Providence you might wish to consult the resources below for information about dining, arts and culture, shopping, and various events happening in the area. Keeping checking here also, as we have more to share about what to do and see, and where to dine and shop.

  • Eat Drink RI: Upcoming food outings and restaurant news.
  • In Downcity: Blog that documents businesses and events in the downtown area (with a special focus on members), from restaurant and concert reviews to items on city planning and urban design.
  • Insider’s Guide to Rhode Island: A terrific mobile-only guide featuring information on dining, shopping, sightseeing, events, and deals. The 2012 Insider’s Guide can be browsed online (cool page-turning functionality), and dowloaded as a PDF is desired.
  • Providence Daily Dose: “We are here to bring you the latest news/events/randomness that Providence has offer.”
  • Providence Journal: The city’s daily newspaper with local and national news, events, sports, weather, politics, lifestyles, etc. The longest continuously-published daily newspaper in the United States.
  • Providence Monthly: Includes articles on city life, food and drink, arts and style, and arts and culture.
  • The Providence Phoenix: Alternative newspaper that offers local arts and event listings.
  • Providence Warwick: From the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. Includes sections visitors, things to do, and meetings & events.
  • Rhode Island Monthly: “Brings readers the very best of what Rhode Island has to offer — from people to politics, food to finance.” From the folks who bring us the Insider’s Guide to Rhode Island (see above).
  • Urbanspoon Providence: Restaurants and reviews from critics, food bloggers, and friends.
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Explore Providence: Art Museums and Galleries

The “Creative Capital” of Providence has a thriving art scene, and there are many museums and galleries to take in. While Gallery Night will not be happening during the week of our conference (it’s the third Thursday of each month), you can see a list of participating galleries on their Web site. Also consult Visit Rhode Island’s Art Galleries section for another list of galleries in the area. Some highlights:

Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design
224 Benefit Street, 401-454-6500.
Just a few blocks from the conference hotel, the RISD Museum is Rhode Island’s leading museum of fine and decorative art, with a collection of over 80,000 objects of international significance. “From the outset, works of art served as models for instruction, first in classrooms and, as the collection grew, in a separate museum structure. Today, as throughout its history, the RISD Museum is an integral part of Rhode Island School of Design and the principal art museum for the city, state and southeastern New England.”

As a VRA attendee you will have free access to the RISD Museum with your conference badge.

This year’s Tansey event will be held at risd|works, a shop located in the RISD Museum lobby. With a 20% discount on the unique items created by RISD alumni and faculty, light refreshments, door prizes, and the company of VRA colleagues, this is sure to be a wonderful experience, but please note that the museum itself will not be open during the event (see their hours here). Your conference badge will also get you a 10% discount on any purchases you make at risd|works outside of the Tansey event.

AS220
111-113 Empire Street, 401-831-9327
Six blocks or so from the Biltmore to the southwest. There is always something interesting happening at the avant-garde AS220, whether exhibitions in the galleries, live performances, or good food. “AS220 is a non-profit community arts space in downtown Providence. Its mission is to provide an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. If you live in the state of Rhode Island, you will get an opportunity to exhibit or perform at AS220. AS220 is part Incubator and part Bazaar. Its 3 buildings house galleries, a performance space, a print shop, residential lofts, restaurants, and more.”

Providence Art Club
11 Thomas St., 401-331-1114
“Along Thomas Street, in the shadow of the First Baptist Church, stands a picturesque procession of historic houses, home to the studios, galleries and clubhouse of the Providence Art Club. Said to be the oldest art club in the nation after the Salmagundi Club in New York, our distinguished Providence institution has been here so long that no one can remember a time when Thomas Street was not synonymous with the Providence Art Club.”

Exhibitions in the galleries are free and open to the public. The art shown in this beautiful and traditional leans toward the conservative end of the spectrum. If you can sweet talk your way into the historic clubhouse it’s said to be well worth a look.

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Explore Providence: Brown University

Brown University, located on College Hill on the east side of the river, is a beautiful campus to stroll through and simply absorb the Ivy League atmosphere. While you are there you may want to check out the following points of interest (campus map available here; be sure to note the hours of each location).

David Winton Bell Gallery
List Art Center, 64 College St., 401-863-2932
Brown University’s contemporary art gallery. “Broadly concerned with the exhibition of exemplary work by artists living today, the gallery takes pride in showing artwork irrespective of media, content or subject and makes special efforts to support and show the work of emerging or under-recognized practitioners locally, nationally and internationally.” Two exhibitions will be on during the conference, with both scheduled to open April 3. One is Daniel Heyman’s I am Sorry It is Difficult to Start and the other is Wafaa Bilal’s The Ashes Series. Each represents the artist’s response to the war in Iraq.

John Hay Library
20 Prospect St., 401-863-3723, hay@brown.edu
The John Hay Library offers particularly strong collections in American literature and history, popular culture, military history and iconography, history of science, and the art and history of the book. It is known for, among other things, the toy soldiers on display in the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, the Audubon Double Elephant folio, the Abraham Lincoln collection, and its artists’ books collection. It is open to the general public; any researcher presenting a valid personal identification card with photo is welcome to use the collections. A virtual orientation with images is available for first-time users. Tours of the Library may be arranged by calling or e-mailing ahead.

John Carter Brown Library
On the Main Green near the intersection of Brown and George streets. 401-863-2725, JCBL_Information@Brown.edu
The John Carter Brown Library, is an “independently administered and funded center for advanced research in history and the humanities, founded in 1846 and located at Brown University since 1901. The library collects primary historical sources pertaining to North and South America before ca. 1825.” Visitors may enter the Reading Room to look at its exhibition cases. Only registered researchers may use the tables in the Reading Room. See their calendar of exhibitions to find out what’s on display when you visit.

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
In Manning Hall on the Main Green. 401-863-2065.
Brown University’s teaching museum, offering exhibits, public lectures, performances, symposia, festivals, and a broad range of programs and events for all ages. See their schedule of exhibits to see what will be on display in early April.

Annmary Brown Memorial
21 Brown Street, 401-863-2942 (note that the building hours are 1:00 to 5:00 pm, M-F)
Large tomb built by Rush Hawkins as a tribute to his beloved wife Annmary Brown, who died in 1903. Three of the four rooms feature selections from his collection of art and other items (the rare books that were originally included have subsequently been moved to the John Hay Library), while the fourth room provides the final resting place for both Annmary and Rush.

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Early Bird Conference Registration & Schedule Information

Originally shared 2/19/13 on the VRA Listserv by Steven Kowalik, Vice President for Conference Program:

Dear VRA colleagues,

A friendly reminder that the VRA 31 Conference “Early Bird” registration period ends on Thursday, February 28, less than two weeks from today.  If you haven’t already registered, please take a moment now to click here and take advantage of the savings.

A big THANKS to everyone who has already registered!

In an effort to go “green”, a bound printed conference program will not be included in the documents you’ll receive at registration upon arrival, although a pdf version of the full program will be available for review and printing closer to the conference’s start.  Therefore, here are some helpful links/tips to using the web-based conference schedule via SCHED:

The conference schedule contains icons for details on mobile apps, printing, social media options, etc., in the upper right corner.  You might want to set a reminder to print out your personalized schedule just prior to departing for Providence.

If not connecting via Facebook, create a free SCHED account here:  http://vra2013annualconference.sched.org/signup#.USPun_LJZ9U

Click here for advice on the use of mobile devices to access conference information:  http://vra2013annualconference.sched.org/mobile-site#.USPmS_LJZ9U

Check out others who will be attending: http://vra2013annualconference.sched.org/directory/

Anyone with questions about the conference schedule should contact me directly stevenk.vra@gmail.com

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Providence!

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Day Trip to Newport

If you have a little time before or after the conference, consider planning a day trip to Newport, just 45 minutes by car to the south (frequent bus service is available, too). While the mansions from the Gilded Age are perhaps Newport’s most famous attractions, here you can also explore colonial, military, and maritime history, as well as the churches, synagogues, and meeting houses that trace Rhode Island’s long legacy of religious freedom.

Start your planning online with a visit to the Newport Visitors Information Center and the
Newport Bristol Heritage Passage sites.

Be sure to explore one or two of the historic mansions. If you have a car, meander along the famous Ocean Drive, a 10-mile route with panoramic views of the rugged Atlantic coastline and the many luxurious private homes along the way.

If the weather is nice and you have good shoes, take in the views along the renowned Cliff Walk. This is normally a 3.5-mile seaside path (7 miles round trip, some of which is paved), but be aware that Hurricane Sandy has closed a portion of the walk, so check beforehand on its status.

There are a number of significant sites to see for those interested in the religious history of Rhode Island. Among them are the state’s oldest surviving house of worship, the Great Friends Meeting House (1699), where Quakers from all of New England convened; the Touro Synagogue (dedicated 1763), America’s oldest synagogue; the Trinity Episcopal Church (1726), which features Rhode Island’s oldest wine-glass pulpit, Tiffany windows, and a 1733 organ given by Bishop George Berkeley; and St. Mary’s Catholic Church (1828), the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Rhode Island, and wedding location of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy.

Other historic places include the Newport Colony House, a 1739 landmark where the Rhode Island legislature met, the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, and numerous cemeteries, such as Common Burial Ground, a colonial cemetery with a large section of slave and free black plots known as God’s Little Acre (see links to more cemeteries and gardens here).

As for museums, among others you’ll find the National Museum of American Illustration, the Newport Art Museum, the Museum of Newport History, the Naval War College Museum, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Check with Newport History Tours and the Newport Historical Society to see what tours and other events are happening when you visit.

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Downtown Providence

Our conference hotel, the Providence Biltmore, is a 1922 Beaux-arts fixture in the downtown cityscape. Now in the National Register of Historic Places, it was designed by Warren and Wetmore (whose other projects include Grand Central Station). Read the hotel’s history page to get a sense of the lavish events that have occurred there (e.g., Esther Williams once performed in an aquarium, live fish and all, which had been constructed on the dance floor of the Garden Room).

The story of downtown Providence begins with the manufacturing boom of the mid-19th century. The city grew westward, across the river and into what is now called Downcity. Numerous Federal and Victorian mercantile buildings from that era remain. Following several decades of postwar urban decay, urban planner began strategizing the city’s Renaissance. The revitalization of the downtown area is still unfolding, and you’ll see it all around. Waterplace Park and its companion Riverwalk are testaments to the success of Providence’s urban renewal, and can be found by the river just to the north of the Biltmore. The park is connected to the cobblestone sidewalks and Venetian-style footbridges of Riverwalk, and is a popular summertime destination for locals and tourists alike.

Shopping, dining, and entertainment abound in downtown Providence within easy walking distance from the Biltmore. For unique shops head three blocks to Westminster St., where independent and quirky establishments now flourish in the abandoned department stores of yesteryear. Examples include Craftland, featuring locally created jewelry, art, and clothes; Symposium Books, an independent bookstore with a great selection of new, used, and remaindered titles that include, among many others, excellent art, architecture, design, and photography sections, and a claim to the best graphic novel selection in town; Queen of Hearts/Modern Love, adjacent sister shops offering hip and vintage-inspired clothing, shoes, and accessories; and lots of other boutiques, bars, and cafes.

Contemporary art lovers will want to visit AS220, a non-profit community arts space with a mission to provide an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. It’s six blocks to the southwest on Washington St. (away from the river) and half a block south on Empire St. A number of theaters and other performing arts venues are located in the area as well. Check out the Downtown Directory for more ideas and information.

More posts on shopping, dining, and entertainment all around Providence to come!

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Conference Highlights

Originally shared 2/4/13 on the VRA Listserv by Steven Kowalik, Vice President for Conference Program:

Dear colleagues,

The third in a series of announcements about VRA 31 ….

In less than two months, the Visual Resources Association 31st Annual Conference begins in Providence.  If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to view the full schedule.  Included here are some selected highlights among many:

  • The VRAF Legacy Lecture’s opening speaker James Elkins is sure to provide a provocative and stimulating presentation, Wednesday, April 3.
  • Don’t miss out on networking opportunities provided by the Birds of a Feather Lunches throughout the conference, and the New Members and First Time Attendees Breakfast, Thursday, April 4.
  • Honor our associates at the Members & Awards Dinner, Thursday, April 4.
  • Take advantage of discount shopping at the Tansey @ risd|works fundraising event, Friday April 5.
  • Informative workshops (two of which are free) throughout the conference.
  • Sessions and case studies covering topics such as accessibility, archives, asset management, cataloging, data visualization, digitizing, digital humanities, facilities, new technologies, outreach, visual literacy, and more.
  • The closing speaker Alex MacLean will discuss his fascinating career as an aerial photographer, Saturday, April 6.

So please don’t put off registering any longer.

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Parking Near the Biltmore

Thinking about driving to Providence? Here is some info on long-term parking near the Biltmore Hotel. Please confirm rates beforehand. Note that street parking is not permitted overnight at meters. The Park Downtown Providence Web site offers a helpful interactive map and an FAQ section.

The Biltmore Hotel provides a valet parking service for guests: $15 for up to 12 hours, and $26 for 24 hours.

The Biltmore Garage
Behind the hotel  at 51 Washington St., 401-273-9466
Maximum rate of $20 per day.

Rhode Island Convention Center
Three or so blocks behind the Biltmore, to the east, at 99 West Exchange St., 401-458-6339
Maximum rate of $18 per day.

Union Station Parking Garage
Two blocks toward the river, to the north of the Biltmore at 5 Memorial Blvd., 401-274-4745
Maximum rate of $20 per day.

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