Staff Editorial: Campus secrets worth discovering

With tuition on the rise again this year, we find it germane to remind the Wash. U. community what might help make the payments feel more worthwhile. To that end we present our list of Washington University’s underused and overlooked locales, which we hope you’ll investigate over the coming year.

The Mildred Lane Kemper Museum of Modern Art is a top-quality contemporary art museum right here on Wash. U.’s campus. The permanent collection is home to a variety of funky art like “The Doppelganger’s Boneyard,” a huge multicolored canvas hanging above the stairs up to the main gallery, the bizarre, neon “Bedroom Painting #2” depicting a cigarette burning in an ashtray in front of a giant female breast, a number of Picassos, a Pollock, a Rauschenberg, a de Kooning and a giant Barbara Kruger. A set of brand new special exhibits arrives February 5. It includes one year’s worth of photographs and film depicting industrial workers in a Maine shipyard during their breaks from work, an installation meditating entirely on the inadequate gas masks of the first two World Wars, and an exhibition drawn from the permanent collection of 25 pieces of art made by indigenous North Americans. Stop by the Kemper in between classes or on a Friday before your evening plans begin. The immediate availability of such a variety of important and exciting art objects on campus is a privilege too few students know they have.

The Earth and Planetary Sciences Building on the north east edge of campus features a galaxy worth of notable items. There’s a replica of the recently trapped Mars Spirit rover and even a collection of geo-luminescent specimens (glowing rocks). In addition to the secrets inside the building, look on the ground outside for sundials and other celestial surprises.

The DUC recording studio in Room 348 above the main dining hall is a professional-grade space to create and engineer your own music.  If you’re merely a Wash. U. affiliate (student, faculty, staff, department), it costs $20/hour, but is free for anyone from Student Union-recognized groups. Apply online at the DUC’s Web site (, walk in with your own blank CD, and walk out with tangible proof of your crushing yodeling skills.

The Toy Collection in The Center for the Humanities maintains a historically significant collection of toys in McMillan Hall. Some of the featured toys include Slinkies, G.I. Joes, and Mr. Potato Head. More exotic pieces include Ghettopoly (the Ghetto Monopoly, mercifully no longer in production) and Barbie’s Friend Midge, with Pregnant Tummy and Baby (now $125 on Amazon). Those seeking a glimpse of a simpler, more chauvinist childhood are urged to take a look.

The Observatory located on top of Crow Hall is open from Monday to Thursdays from first nightfall (around 7 p.m.) to 10 p.m. Student assistants are on hand to help visitors find significant constellations and astronomical objects. Come on a clear night to survey the vastness of the cosmos, or check up on the progress of that apocalyptic meteor.

Carvery wraps in Olin! Most students are aware of the carvery in Holmes Lounge. But the same sandwich can be found in the Olin Café, located in Simon Hall. Avoid the massive lines and enjoy the quaint departure gate decor.

This is just a short list of the hidden treasures we’ve stumbled across in our time here. If you have your secrets to reveal, e-mail us at [email protected]

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