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The joy of our Roger Williams Park. You don’t have to go far. – Ed Iannuccilli

by Ed Iannuccilli, contributing writer

It was a common refrain of my mother’s, “Peter, let’s go for a spin.” My parents jumped into the Chevy and headed for the streets of Providence for a drive, to look around, to window shop on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and then for a cone of ice cream before their final lap, a jaunt through Roger Williams Park.

Here it was. Roger Williams Park, a gem near the city center just a few miles from their home. Now for their leisurely drive to admire the beauty of The Park. They never left the car. And so, I had a thought.

“Let’s go to Roger Williams Park on Saturday, but to make it fun, let’s take one of our grandchildren to the Museum of Natural History. I think he’ll love it. Plus, we haven’t been there in years.”

So, we picked up Jaxson and told him he was in for a surprise. Little did we know, so too were we. There is so much to do in our Capital’s jewel. We had a plan; make quick stops at highlights, then head to The Museum.

So around we went. First, a drive to appreciate the expansive manicured grounds, recreational ponds, public gardens, extensive roadway/walkway systems, tennis courts, ball fields, playgrounds, and the Zoo. And then a quick look at several historic public buildings; the Bandstand,  Botanical Center, Casino, Carousel, and Temple to Music where Dad took me on many a Sunday morning. Along our course were tributes to the Civil War Soldiers, Guglielmo Marconi, Abraham Lincoln, and Casimir Pulaski. Why there even was a trumpeter who I subsequently learned was Bowen Church, a cornet player and assistant conductor for the American Band of Providence, which he founded in the late 19th century.

We stopped at the Carousel but unfortunately, we were too early. It had not yet opened. We told Jaxson of the many brass rings and the occasional gold ones that we snatched on the carousel rides of our youth. We promised to return.

And then to The Museum of Natural History. We spent the afternoon even sitting for the planetarium show.

Exhibits, education, and research galore of the natural world for all ages and all cultures to enjoy and understand. Inspiring.

I learned that “The Museum of Natural History is Rhode Island’s only natural history museum and is home to the state’s only public planetarium. For more than a century the museum has served as a unique educational, scientific, and cultural resource by offering exciting exhibits and programming that provide ways for children and families to learn about our world and its people.”

There is The Oceania exhibit, the Origin of Birds (yep, dinosaurs).

But the highlight was the James Webb Space Telescope and the story of  Uncovering the Hidden Universe. The Webb is the successor and complement to the Hubble Space Telescope, providing insights into the mysteries of the universe. We learn about Webb and its observations in the exhibit.

There was so much more.

We stepped back to explore the history of collecting through the museum’s rich and diverse collections of remarkable treasures. We traveled through time to discover the formation of the Earth and its transformation into the world we live in today. Anything else? You bet. Almost too much to enumerate here, and reason to return again and again.

The informed people working in The Museum could not have been more pleasant or helpful.

Here is the Rhode Island story again. Something for everyone enhancing the quality of our lives . . . . recreation, leisure, vital, sustainable . . . and close by in an urban area. Oh, did I neglect to mention that it was free. And for the planetarium; minimal.

Our magnificent Park-in-the-City. Visit it. You won’t be disappointed.

Ed Iannuccilli

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  1. Ed Iannuccilli on May 12, 2024 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you, Bob

  2. Bob Fuoroli on May 12, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    Great article about a real RI treasure, brought back my memories as a kid growing up in Providence, thank you Ed for sharing…

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