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  • Newark MuseumNewark Museum Newark, New Jersey
    The Newark Museum is the biggest museum in the state, containing excellent collections of arts of the Americas, Asia, Africa, the ancient world, decorative arts, American art and contemporary art. Among the spectacular American art is the works of John Singer Sargent, Tony Smith, Frank Stella, Thomas Cole, Hiram Powers, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keefe, Joseph Stella, Albert Bierstadt, Childe Hassam and Frederick Church. In their Tibetan galleries, which is believed to be one of the best in the world, the wonderful collection was bought from Christian missionaries during the early 20th century, contain a wonderful in situ Buddhist altar that was consecrated by the Dalai Lama. Besides the marvelous art collections, the museum is devoted to natural science and houses a mini-zoo of more than a hundred animals; also included is the Dreyfuss Planetarium and the Victoria Hall of Science that showcases many of the museum's 70,000 specimen natural science collection. Their Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden, found behind the museum, has been the magnificent setting for concerts, performances and community programs. It is also the site of a 1784 old stone schoolhouse and the Fire Safety Center. The museum was started in 1909 to begin a museum for the reception and exhibition of art articles, by master Newark librarian John Cotton Dana, as well as articles of science, technology and history, and to encourage the study of arts and sciences. The nucleus of the museum is a collection of Japanese prints, porcelains and silks that were collected by a Newark pharmacist. The museum started out on the fourth floor of the Newark Public Library and moved to its own constructed building in the 1920s after a generous donation by Louis Bamberger. Jarvis Hunt designed it, who had designed Bamberger's flagship store, and the museum has been enlarged a few times since that early beginning; as well as taking over the former YMCA on its south, then north into the 1885 Ballantine House and finally in 1990 to the west into another building already there, but recently acquired. During that period, Michael Graves redesigned it. In 2006, the Newark Light Rail began service to the museum bringing patrons from the Newark Penn Station and the Newark Broad Street Station.

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  • Branch Brook ParkBranch Brook Park Newark, New Jersey
    The magnificent Branch Brook Park is spread across 360 acres of public land that is the biggest public park in the state, with over 4000 cherry trees in 14 varieties that has become known as Cherryblossomland. Every April, a fantastic cherry blossom festival is held, and is believed to be the second biggest in the nation, behind Washington, DC. The park started in 1895, which makes it the nation's first public park, and it had been an army training ground during the Civil War. At that time, the north part was a marsh called Old Blue Jay Swamp and in 1898, public funds were appropriated to drain the swamp into a landscaped lake, making it 60 acres big. In the 1920s, private donations helped increase its size, especially those from the Ballantines and other well known Newark families. The Morris Canal was along the west side, until it was turned into the Newark City Subway that gave access from downtown to the park. Original designs were based on romantic garden themes, and these were offered in 1895 and 1898, but then the Parks Commission decided to hire various architectural firms to plan it. Finally, in 1900, they hired the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted to redesign it. The beautiful results create the park's present natural look and feel, with interspersed acreage of meadows and forests like the other designs of Olmsted, Prospect Park and Central Park. In 1927, Caroline Bamberger Fuld, sister of the department store magnate Louis Bamberger, and widow of the store's VP, donated the marvelous cherry trees. The cherry festival brings in over 10,000 visitors every year to celebrate spring in the exquisite aromas of cherry blossoms and the spectacular sights of these blossoms.

January 11, 2011