Some factory tours are short and sweet with views through windows. That's not the case at the headquarters of the 130-year-old Kohler Co., the world's largest plumbingware manufacturer. Participants don safety glasses, long pants, and shoe covers for the three-hour tour that begins each weekday morning at the Design Center. A retired worker leads visitors through the facilities where employees fashion sinks, tubs, lavatories, faucets, and other accessories. Among the stops are the pottery and foundry operations. The company has about 8,000 employees at this complex, about an hour north of Milwaukee. In winter, there are late-afternoon public carriage rides through Kohler Village, an early planned community.
Highland Drive. 920-457-3699. www.destinationkohler.com.
Air museum opens
CHANTILLY, VA.Dec. 15"America's Attic," the Smithsonian Institution, is stuffed. The National Air and Space Museum shows only 10 percent of its collection at its home on the National Mall in Washington. No more. NASM launches a satellite museum 28 miles west of the Mall on a 176.5-acre site at Washington Dulles International Airport. The $311 million Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is home to 200 aircraft and 135 spacecraft and artifacts. Among the treasures coming out of storage are the shuttle Enterprise; a Boeing B17D "Swoose," the only surviving US military aircraft that flew on the first day of combat in World War II; a Cessna 180, "Spirit of Columbus," the plane Geraldine Mock flew solo around the world in 1964; SR71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft; the B-29 Enola Gay; and a Concorde supersonic passenger plane. Among other attractions are aviation memorabilia, an observation tower overlooking the airport, and an IMAX theater.
At Routes 50 and 28.202-357-2700.www.nasm.si.edu/udvarhazy.
'Kiki Smith' NEW YORK
Dec. 5-March 8
New York-based sculptor Kiki Smith follows a second muse as a printmaker. In the first major exploration of her two-dimensional art, the Museum of Modern Art, Queens premieres "Kiki Smith: Prints, Books and Things." It covers the last two decades with 150 lithographs, etchings, screen-printed fabrics, posters, temporary tattoos, and books with original prints. Among recent works are "Come Away From Her (after Lewis Carroll)," a print in a series about the author's drawings for "Alice's Adventures Under Ground," and "Hunters and Gatherers," a book of haikus by Susanna Moore with seven etchings. Smith participates in two museum programs, on Jan. 28 and Feb. 14.
33d Street at Queens Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens. 212-708-9400. www.moma.org.
Exhibits usually don't open until everything is in place. The 100-year-old New Bedford Whaling Museum takes a different tack with "From the Deep: The Sperm Whale, Bone by Bone." A team of specialists plans to reassemble the skeleton of a sperm whale while museum visitors watch. The 48-foot, 45-ton sperm whale washed ashore on Nantucket on June 7, 2000. The whale was towed to New Bedford and buried under manure so the carcass would be stripped to the bone. This fall the bones were placed outdoors for bleaching by the sun. Now begins the 8- to 10-month task of assembling the 2,700 pounds of teeth, bones, and 17-foot skull on a gallery floor. To defray the cost, the museum has an adopt-a-bone program. When completed, the sperm whale skeleton stays put. The museum's two other whale skeletons hang above galleries.
18 Johnny Cake Hill. 508-997-0046. www.whalingmuseum.org.
DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y.Through DecemberWithin about 20 miles of each other, nine Hudson River Valley Great Estates deck the halls and celebrate with seasonal hours, special tours, and events. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park and Staatsburgh State Historic Site in Staatsburg represent the Gilded Age. For Vanderbilt's daily tours there are lavish decorations and 500 poinsettias. Staatsburgh has Christmas trees decorated in Edwardian styles. Wilderstein, a Queen Anne-style Victorian manse, was the Rhinebeck home of Daisy Suckley, a distant cousin of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. High tea is served on Dec. 6; house tours are weekends in December and Dec. 26. Montgomery Place in Annandale-on-Hudson offers horse-drawn carriage rides, and Olana State Historic Site in Hudson and Roosevelt properties in Hyde Park are among the other homes.
Various locations.800-445-3131; 845-463-4000.www.dutchesstourism.com.
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