Step into the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts, and it's as if the Industrial Revolution never happened. The museum focuses on the life of farmers, builders, and other tradesman of the United State's pre-industrial age. The main floor thrusts visitors into the world of New Jersey farming families from the early 1800s to provide in-depth information about these peoples' lives as well as showcase woodworkers' planks and various hand tools. The lower level, meanwhile, celebrates the working lives of four tradesman from 1850, including a shoemaker and a distiller. While these permanent displays stand as time capsules of a bygone area, a special exhibit space rotates its features regularly. Only a small portion of the museum's artifacts is on display at a time, but visitors can make an appointment to see items from the full collection, which totals more than 8800 artifacts from 21 different trades.
Even without the artifacts, the museum stands as a piece of history, as it's housed within The James Library Building. The building was finished in 1900 and contains stained glass windows, carved stone and wood detailing, and vaulted ceilings that make it the perfect setting to imagine life before Henry Ford invented his flying car.
The Summit Area YMCA with its Berkeley Heights location and the Madison Area YMCA serve as community gathering places where principles are put into practice. The cause-driven organizations focus on healthy living, social responsibility, and youth development. The Learning Circle (Summit Area) and the F.M. Kirby Children's Center (Madison Area) take care of babies as young as 6 weeks old, and babysitting services afford parents the opportunity to explore the Y while childcare professionals watch little ones.
The Y also aims to keep kids and their families healthy with sports leagues, youth sports clinics, group fitness classes, and a fitness center equipped with a climbing wall, Olympic free-weight room, and a pool. All of the Y’s programs are accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay or perform a back handspring.
There may be a lot of playtime at The Language Workshop for Children, but don't think the students aren't learning; during classes, instructors use songs, games, toys, and more to teach children the basics of tongues such as French, Spanish, and Chinese.
The Language Workshop is the brainchild of François Thibaut, who created the school in 1973 after years of observing how children learned languages. In the same vein, instructors understand that even infants can pick up a second language, and they teach anyone from 6 months to 9 years old in group classes, with private lessons available for older students in certain locations.
One of the nation's most esteemed Shakespeare outfits, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has brought the playwright's work to life for the past half-century. But the troupe takes its name more as an inspiration than a strict limit, also mounting productions of other classics by writers such as Thornton Wilder and Noël Coward. Once a summer, the company takes to the College of Saint Elizabeth's outdoor amphitheater—modeled after Athens' Theater of Dionysius, a favorite venue for Shakespeare performances in Greece—to present the bard's work in the way he intended: alive under the open sky.
Playwrights Theatre stages productions of up-and-coming plays each year through its New Play Development program. The 2010–2011 season keeps the theatre's long-standing commitment to fresh ars theatrica with three works: Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods by Tammy Ryan, MoM A Rock Concert Musical by Richard Caliban, and Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Julie Jensen. Your season subscription to Playwrights Theatre entitles you to view all three performances, receive a 50% discount on two tickets for family or friends, gain admittance to opening-night parties, and attend post-show talkbacks about new-play development and the inside story on plays. You'll also receive a pass to the FORUM staged reading series, enough to attend a reading of each of the series' 13 new plays and discuss the material with artists in an intimate setting.
The Concert Hall at Drew University, located in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts, is a top-quality venue whose precisely designed interior exudes an austere aesthetic atmosphere to complement its bell-clear acoustics. Unlike large outdoor amphitheaters, there is no AstroTurf lawn with hacky sack pits and hemp-woven Jimmy Carter effigies, so all audience members are guaranteed an actual chair and a solid view of the pianist. Great for a romantic evening out, or a lone venture into the mellifluous world of long-dead Europeans, a performance by Ivana Ristova guarantees aural bliss.