Portsmouth High School MUSE students visited The Meeting Room today. An art installation by Maya Lin in Newport’s Queen Anne Square, the public park with original structure sites represented by stone foundations has multiple aspects: site specific art, public park, memorial, historic interpretation and a tie between colonial American and current communities.

We met in one of the rooms, The Hearth, and discussed the history of the site, it’s gift to the city through the generosity of Doris Duke and ultimate transformation from commercial use to public access in the heart of the city. Newport Restoration Foundation more recently led a fund raising effort to have Maya Lin design and oversee a reinvigorated park that serves as a place of meeting and memory.

The students explored the park and it’s different rooms and features. Discussion ranged from Doris Duke to Queen Anne, and the students were especially taken with the Maya Lin creation. Enjoying the park revealed the tactile elements of stone and earth, water and the representation of fire in a stone hearth. While “air” was a topic of differing viewpoints, the element of air eventually became symbolized by a sparrow the group named Chester as he hopped about at our feet.

The dimension of time, symbolized by 18th and 19th century Newporters having met and conversed in the very spaces we did today was especially powerful. Newport as a museum never ceases to enlighten!

Learn more about The Meeting Room at QueenAnnSquare.com.