Holiday ornaments — museum style

Can you spot my favorite purple pig ornament from a 2010 tree at the Heard Museum in Phoenix?

While others were waiting on Thanksgiving for stores to reopen with “Black Friday” blow-outs, the most savvy among were kicking off their holiday shopping at the Heard Museum, which has locations in both Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Thursday was the first day of this year’s “Ornament Marketplace” — which the Heard Museum is holding at both sites through the weekend.

Though many of the ornaments are displayed on Christmas trees, there are plenty of options for folks who celebrate other holidays — like the Native American folk art pigs with wings perfect for co-workers who appreciate sentiments like “when pigs fly.” Some ornaments feature religious images like angels while others represent secular motifs.

This tree at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC features origami ornaments with space and dinosaur themes

Giving and collecting ornaments are lovely ways to mark the passing of time, and revisiting the ornaments we’ve gathered or been given is like running our fingers over a scrapbook come to life. “Some people make scrapbooks,” I quipped to my husband while baking cookies Thursday morning, “but I write blogs.” Others do ornaments — and it’s all good.

When our youngest daughter Lizabeth, a college freshman living in NYC, paid her first visit to the American Museum of Natural History this week, she discovered a giant tree covered in origami ornaments mirroring the themes of two current exhibits — one on dinosaurs, another on space exploration. The size of the tree is meant to mirror the size and scope of its subjects.

Purple Peace Tree featured in a 2010 exhjbit at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

Lizabeth’s pictures of the AMNH tree reminded me that I’d seen something similar a year before while exploring the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa with my son Christopher. It was a “Purple Peace Tree” covered in origami ornaments eventually sent to Hiroshima, Japan.

Folks with nimble fingers, good spatial skills and long attention spans can craft their own origami ornaments for the tree this year. But I’m not among them — so I’m thankful to the Heard Museum for hosting an Ornament Marketplace where I can put other skills, like supporting local arts and culture, to good use.

— Lynn

Note: Many Valley museums and cultural venues have gift shops or retail areas where you can find creative ornaments and other holiday offerings. Get the December issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine to enjoy a poignant article about ornaments and memories written by publisher, editor and writer Karen Barr.

Coming up: A pair of Muppet movies — and a cinematic love letter

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