Museum Haunts

When there’s something strange in your museum who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!

I feel like if you’re in the museum business inevitably you will work in a location that is supposedly haunted. Full disclosure, every museum I have ever worked or volunteered at has had claims of paranormal activity. I jokingly refer to myself as a daytime ghost hunter because I think it’s so much fun to believe in ghosts. I think anybody who loves history would love an opportunity to interact with someone from the past which is what I think makes museum ghosts so appealing to me!

Growing up I was always told that the U-505 submarine at the Museum of Science and Industry was haunted. So, I took two of my fellow daytime ghost hunters on an adventure into regions beyond.

Here is what we know…

MSI was originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 Colombian Exposition. Since it held priceless works of art is was built soundly enough to stay standing after the exposition was over. With this type of history, the museum allegedly is haunted by at least three ghosts!

  • Clarence Darrow- Remember him from the Scopes Monkey Trial? Well, he lived in Hyde Park and the bridge in the lagoon nearby is named after him. Supposedly employees have seen him wondering about. Not sure if I’m buying this one but okay.
  • H.H Holmes- Well, I HOPE this guy isn’t haunting MSI!
  • The Commander of the U-505

The U-505 came from Hamburg Germany where it served in World War II until it was captured by American forces in 1944. While we know there were multiple commanders of the U-505 the most popular candidate for hauntings is the second commander who committed suicide on the U-Boat. During an attack by British forces the commander, believing this to be the end, took to the control room and ended his life. It is believed his spirit has never left the U-Boat since. How true is this? Honestly, I can’t attest to this. Our docent was hesitant to speak on the supposed hauntings of the ships but did admit that the ship is particularly scary at night time with all the lights in the museum off.

We heard that the commander tends to pick on girls, who wear pigtails, and while this sounds like something made up to scare little girls we thought it was worth a shot and donned some pigtails. Alas, by the end of the tour we remained un-haunted.

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So, is the Museum of Science and Industry haunted by a German U-Boat commander? I think not. However, check it out for yourself and don’t be too surprised if you run into a ghostly presence.

The Tapestry of Bayeux

Taking DIY to the next level. 

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of traveling to the Normandie region of France for work. Talk about living the life. While preparing for my trip one of my co-workers and art history enthusiast pulled me into her office and started raving about this tapestry I simply HAD to go see while there. As she frantically googled the location and how many miles, hours, steps I would be from this tapestry I silently nodded. This is because I simply had NO CLUE what she was talking about.

I enjoy a good art museum, I’m looking at you Met Museum, but I wouldn’t consider myself self an art history expert. I took one class on art history in college and honestly, I don’t remember too much. However, once I started learning more about this tapestry I became obsessed! So, follow me down the rabbit hole of my new obsession…THE TAPESTRY OF BAYEUX.

Long Story Short

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The tapestry of Bayeux is a medieval tapestry that tells the story of William, the Duke of Norman (aka William the Conqueror) and the Battle of Hastings in 1066 which will eventually lead him to become the first Norman King of England. It’s known as the Tapestry of Bayeux because the first mention we have of the tapestry in history is in an inventory list in the Bayeux Cathedral. It’s technically NOT a tapestry at all but an embroidery but ya know details. This thing is a marvel, even if you aren’t into medieval embroidery techniques, it’s nearly 230 ft long and dates back to the 11th century. That. Is. Insane! Imagine this tapestry has survived centuries and two world wars completely intact. There is a theory that an additional 7 yards of tapestry showing William’s coronation is missing but nothing has been proven. I mean talk about taking care of things France.

City of Bayeux 

Upon arrival in France my co-worker Ana and I met up with our host Marie. Her house was beautiful and one of the first things I noticed was a section of the Tapestry on her dining room wall. Marie explained to me how she had made this herself and sat on the cultural board of the city of Bayeux. Super neat, I personally am a quilter so we had a lot to talk about. While eating in Bayeux the following day Marie quickly pulled me aside and told me to follow her. Ditching the group, we dashed across Bayeux to the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux where the tapestry is held today. Okay, before anybody gets too excited, I never got around to seeing the actual tapestry while in France. Buzzkill. However, I WAS taken across the street from the museum to a tiny little store called the Bayeux Broderie that specializes in the Bayeux stitch. Quickly, I bought my own Tapestry reproduction and shoved it in my bag.

DIY Medieval Tapestry

I was lucky before I jumped into this project that I had a Bayeux stitch master class from Marie. It lasted about 10 minutes but it gave me enough confidence that when I arrived home I felt pretty confident to jump into the project. The Bayeux Stitch is made of four simply stitches.

  • Le Point de Tige Stitch (Stem Stitch)
    This stitch outlines all the images. The first step is to outline the WHOLE tapestry.
  • Points Lances (Long Stitch)
    This fills the space, kind of like coloring in the lines.img_1238
  • Les Barrettes (Couching Stitch)
    This one holds down all of your long stitches.img_1247
  • Les Picots
    This is pretty much a secondary couching stitch that holds down you previous couching stitch.img_1439

In total it took me about two years to finish my very OWN Tapestry of Bayeux. Now every day while sipping my tea I can be reminded of my time in Bayeux and William, the Duke of Norman kicking the ass of Harold, the Earl of Wessex at the Battle of Hastings.

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