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Museums and malls can go together.

Anthropology in Danville, California; exhibits for children in Colorado Springs

MUSEUM AND shopping mall: the two seem worlds apart. One strives to engage our critical faculties, the other to trigger blind impulses. Yet in many Western cities and suburbs, museums and malls are literally finding common ground. The result is a symbiotic relationship in which shoppers who might not make the effort to visit a museum elsewhere are drawn into "mall museums," while museumgoers are likely to patronize neighboring retail establishments.

The West's newest and largest mall museum recently opened in tony Blackhawk Plaza near Danville, 30 miles east of San Francisco. The University of California at Berkeley Museum, run by the nonprofit Behring-Hofmann Educational Institute, is the product of an unusual arrangement between Black-hawk developer Ken Behring and the university. The museum has raised the eyebrows of some skeptics, but whether its founding was motivated by philanthropy or the appeal of having a tax-free attraction at the mall, it provides an engaging forum for collections that previously had been gathering dust in campus storage rooms.

More than 300 artifacts from cultures spanning history and the globe, on loan from the university's Lowie Museum of Anthropology, are displayed in cleverly designed exhibits. In an area titled "Ceremony," for example, a shifting spotlight reveals each of the Eskimo and African carved masks in a large, dark case; beside it, a videotape shows traditional Eskimo dances. The oldest object is an Egyptian ceramic vessel from about 3500 B.C.

Recently, the museum opened a second major exhibit area assembled from discoveries unearthed by the UC Museum of Paleontology. It traces the evolution of life in North America from 4 1/2 billion years ago to the present. Of local interest are fossils found in nearby Blackhawk Quarry in the 1930s; they show that mastodons, camels, and packs of dogs once roamed land now covered by housing subdivisions.

Admission costs $3 for adults, $2 for ages 17 and under and seniors. At the adjacent Behring Auto Museum (admission $7 and $5), opened three years ago, you can see an impressive collection of vintage cars. Hours for both museums are 10 to 5 Tuesdays through Sundays (until 9 Wednesdays and Fridays). From I-680, 10 miles south of Walnut Creek, exit on Crow Canyon Road. Head east 4 miles to Camino Tassajara; turn right. Blackhawk Plaza is ahead on the left.

IN COLORADO, A MALL MUSEUM FOR CHILDREN

Another museum that recently set up shop in a mall is the Children's Museum of Colorado Springs, with about three dozen hands-on exhibits. Children can play doctor in a mock hospital, or spin disks in a radio station. The museum is on the second floor of Citadel Mall, at Platte Avenue and Academy Boulevard. It's open 10 to 3 Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 to 7 Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 5 Sundays, Admission is $1, $2 ages 2 through 18.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Mahoney, David
Publication:Sunset
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Words:483
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