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Here’s to the Red, White and Blue Star Museums

Nothing touches the heart (and wets the eyes) like watching a veteran reunited with his or her family. But what happens after the camera stops rolling? When the bear hugs are over and the tears wiped away? Whether Marines or National Guard, Iraq or Fort Hood, all military personnel deserve one very special thing – quality time with loved ones. 

That’s where Blue Star Museums comes into play. Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums nationwide. In short, it’s a simple way for museums to express gratitude by offering military personnel and their families an opportunity to visit at no cost.

“As we kick off our fifth year of Blue Star Museums, more museums than ever are part of this military appreciation program,” said NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. “Together with Blue Star Families and more than 2,000 museums, we are proud to help connect military families with the cultural resources in their communities.” 

Every year between Memorial Day and Labor Day, participating museums offer complimentary admission to the active duty military personnel and their families – including National Guard and Reserve. The Sam Noble Museum is proud to once again participate in this prestigious alliance in 2014.

“We are pleased to recognize the sacrifice that our military make in service to their country,” said museum director Michael Mares. “We hope they will enjoy special family time at the museum.” 

The Sam Noble Museum is one of many places in Oklahoma that hires veterans, and the Blue Star Museums program holds a special place in the heart of several museum employees. 

“As a veteran, it’s a humbling experience to know that individuals and institutions have such appreciation for the sacrifices service men and women make,” said Jen Tregarthen, PR and marketing officer for the museum. “I’m honored to work for one of those institutions.”

The Sam Noble Museum is just one of 30 Blue Star Museums in Oklahoma. Others include the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Oklahoma History Center. For a complete list of participating museums in Oklahoma, click here

At the end of day, it’s not about seeing the world’s largest Apatosaurus or exploring Black Mesa in the Hall of Natural Wonders. It’s about family experiences. We hope that you will share this post with a service member in your life, and to all of the military personnel out there – thank you for your service to our country.

The Journey of the Shells

To many, science may seem to be a strictly objective discipline, black-and-white and void of emotion. Sure, it takes passion, but science is seldom regarded as possessing sentimentality. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Through its ability to reveal passions and spark inspiration, science has proven its ability to resonate on a most intimate level, as illustrated by Vicki Jackson and 150 drawers of seashells.

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It all began on Sunday, July 28, 2013, when Jackson visited the Sam Noble Museum, carrying with her some 2,700 carefully boxed seashells. The collection was not hers, but her late father’s. Although Jackson’s generous donation of the collection to the museum’s recent invertebrates department is in and of itself a marvelous tale, it is the story behind the shells that makes this gift extraordinary.

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Jackson believes that her father, Perry Yates Jackson Jr., began collecting shells after attending the Naval Academy many years ago. Since then, his compilation has expanded to include shells from both familiar and exotic locals: Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, California, Texas, Haiti, New Guinea, The West Indies and Seychelles, among others. The global nature of the collection stems largely from Perry Jackson Jr.’s service with the United States Navy.

 “The Navy allowed him to go all over the place, and wherever they docked, if he had the time, he would shell hunt. It was almost a form of meditation,” Jackson explained.

 Perry Jackson Jr. was not only an avid collector, but also a dedicated organizer. Until his passing in 1998, he maintained a meticulous catalogue of each and every item he recovered. According to Katrina Menard, curator of the Sam Noble Museum’s recent invertebrates collection, this degree of care is almost as rare as the shells themselves.

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