Archive for the ‘museum’ Category
A long overdue new blog post. We finally made it out to the Getty Center to tour the grounds and explore their exhibits.
The Getty Center sits nestled in the mountains and they don’t allow you to drive all the way up to it. You exit off the 405 and enter a monstrously large parking garage – the sensors detecting open spots list numbers in the hundreds for a parking section – then hop onto a tram from this utopian station.
The layout of the museum complex is designed to cast you outside as you browse the exhibits. Plenty of picturesque spots to sit, too.
We took a short architecture tour of the Getty and our guide pointed out a great variety of details that architect Richard Meier worked into the buildings and the complex.
The Pollock exhibit was packed. But overall it didn’t feel crowded during our visit. The other wings of the museum were mostly quiet, especially for a place that has a parking capacity of over 1,000 cars.
And the views towards downtown Los Angeles are very welcome. If the sky had been more clear, you could have made out another set of LA skyscrapers in the historic downtown core. Here you can see the skyscrapers of Century City and Westwood areas well.
Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts, displayed beautifully in the exhibition space of the Park Avenue Armory in NYC. Only two more days to catch it!
The American Folk Art Museum has dramatically transformed the Park Avenue Armory’s historic 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall with the installation of 650 red and white American quilts, all of which are on loan from the collection of Joanna S. Rose. It is the largest exhibition of quilts ever held in the city. As an extraordinary gift to the public, entry to this unprecedented event is free.
It’s been awhile since I’ve last been to the Hirshhorn. It’s really obvious because this is the first time I’ve seen this. There’s a great film by Cyprien Gaillard playing in the Hirshhorn now – and has been since last November. It’s Desniansky Raion, a 30-minute, tri-partite film that includes as part of it some strangely captivating footage of a street fight in St. Petersburg. This kind of organized street brawl has a can’t-look-away, car crash kind of appeal… at the same time, it’s so bizarre because it feels absolutely mundane. The post-Socialist surrounds make for an appropriate setting for a midday Fight Club…
Gaillard’s also done interesting work taking Polaroid photos of a variety of sites (of both proven and questionable importance) over the course of about three years, and his over 900 photos at-a-tilt are collected in his Geographical Analogies. This, too, you can find in the Hirshhorn museum. They’re arranged in 3×3 diamond grids displayed in a few cases. Gaillard on his own is worth a fresh visit to the Hirshhorn before the exhibit closes March 27th.
And the piece by Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence, in the Black Box – interesting too.
Upcoming at the Hirshhorn: Looks like they’re currently setting up a large exhibition of Blinky Palermo. From what I could see, they’re blocking off the entire 2nd floor of the museum for it.
This one will only appeal to a few travelers – maybe those with strong stomachs and a fascination with our inner workings. Housed within two buildings of the Siriraj hospital complex, the Siriraj Medical Museum is most visited by Thai students of medicine. Accordingly, not all of the descriptions are translated into English, but visually this is an incredible set of museums.
For the 40 baht entry fee, you can visit six museums: Ellis Pathological Museum, Songkran Niyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum, Ouay Ketusingh Museum of the History of Thai Medicine, Parasitology Museum, Congdon Anatomical Museum, and the Sood Sangvichichien Prehistoric Museum and Laboratory. No photos allowed inside, so this is definitely one you’ll have to experience yourself.
In the pathological museum, take a close look at preserved bodies exemplifying various conditions (Gastroschisis, Elephantiasis, various “Siamese twins”, etc), actual human skulls, graphic photos of the results of amputations, suicide and stab wounds, Molotov cocktail blasts… and there are a few preserved snakes and centipedes for good measure. The museum has a couple of serial killers’ bodies floating eerily in their glass tanks. The potted plants near the display cases were long dead on my visit, too, which seemed fitting.
The parasitology museum may give you a more intimate understanding of what could be lurking in your food. And in the anatomical museum, not only do you get plenty of skeletons, there are the entire human nervous, muscle, and arterial systems in embalming fluid! (That one is way cool and less gruesome than the pathological museum.)
Bring a friend, preferably one who won’t jump out at you from behind corners. Walking through the museums can be chilling. I couldn’t bring myself to lean in close to some of the bodies: the fact that they’re all real makes you wonder if horror films could come alive, with an eye slowly opening. These exhibits will haunt your nights for a long time to come.
Getting there: Take the ferry going across the river to Pra Chan pier. Walk up the street and make a right turn into the Siriraj hospital grounds. There will be a map of the complex on your left by an entryway – the buildings you’re looking for are #28 (Adulyadaejvikrom building) and #27 (Anatomy building).
Two days in Manila is beginning to feel like enough time here. I should take a hint from my hostel bunkmates, who have continued onto more charming locales in the isles like Boracay and Puerto Galera. (Though maybe by “charming,” I really mean “more beachy.”)
A Filipino woman I met during one of my layovers on the way to Manila taught me the only Tagalog word I know: salama, which means “thank you.” It’s proven to be handy, if only to draw even bigger smiles. Though tourist culture here feels kind of negligible in areas outside of Intramuros, globalization is evident in the ubiquitous 7-Elevens, enormous shopping malls, and numerous fast food chains. English is spoken all over the city. A British traveler I met at my hostel who teaches university in Malaysia complained that all of his students think every Western thing they see is “American.” If they see an English-language television show, they automatically assume it’s from the U.S. – never considering it could be British or otherwise.
I’m staying in Makati, Manila right now, and explored the must-see sights of the city with two bunkmates yesterday. We grabbed lunch in Binondo (Chinatown). There you can expect to see naked children run through the overflowing sidewalks or sleep in handcarts while their parents sell their wares, from forged high school diplomas and doctor’s certifications to sandals and cell phone cases. Prices are low and the volume’s high.
We walked from Binondo to Intramuros, where we visited the larger than expected San Agustin Church and played with the turtles in the fountain. One of the guys wanted to see the sunset over Manila Bay, but once we got there, we were all dismayed by the amount of trash on the beach. More garbage than sand… See for yourself.
In contrast to that image, the Ayala Museum in Makati (near Greenbelt Mall) is one of the most modern museums I’ve ever visited. You may be like me – not so stoked on ceramics – but the history of trade routes between Southeast Asia and China is fascinating. Truth is, the style and technique employed in ceramics-making reveals a lot about commerce, influence, and geography. It’s worth watching the video named “A Millenium of Contact” on the 4th floor of the museum. There’s also a floor of dioramas (a full 60 of them!) in the museum depicting Filipino history from 750,000 B.C. to 1946. Neat approach.
By far, my favorite exhibit in the Ayala Museum was the one about the Boxer Codex, a 307-page manuscript with 75 colored plates depicting the inhabitants of the Philippines at the time of initial Spanish contact. It was the first known descriptions of these peoples in a Western language (originally in Spanish), merging early anthropology with colonial history. The writer makes very detailed notes about customs of the various groups encountered. In the museum, you can flip through a “virtual book” with clickable images of the plates and read some of the pages of the codex in both Spanish and English translation.
Other minor lessons learned in Manila:
- Aircon is like gold in this weather. So is water. I now know the meaning of the phrase “bathed in sweat.”
- Toilet paper is to be thrown in the rubbish bin, not flushed. Disclaimer: This does not apply all over the world.
- Keep cool like a local by carrying one or more of the following: a small towel or handkerchief to wipe your face and neck, an umbrella for the sun (and for the almost daily afternoon rain showers), or a collapsible paper fan.
Catching up on posting some photos from my first visit to Washington, DC’s Newseum.
This very modern museum for news and journalism used to be across the river in Virginia, and was relocated to Pennsylvania Avenue two years ago. Its current location is pretty outstanding, and there’s an outdoor terrace on the 6th floor with a nice view: you can see its next-door neighbor, the Canadian Embassy, as well as the Capitol down the way and the National Gallery of Art across the street.
Entry fee at the student price is $19, and the ticket grants you entry for two consecutive days. There’s a lot to see, so if you feel your time is limited, be sure to grab a pamphlet detailing the 2-hour self guided tour of the Newseum’s highlights. It takes you around the museum from the top down.
My favorite part was at the end, the gallery of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists’ photographs on the first floor. It’s moving – an apt homage to the power of the visual and a reminder of the role news media plays in inspiring reaction and change.
So as not to neglect my home, I’m compiling a shortlist of things I still need to do in Washington, DC this spring – and yes, it really feels like spring now! These are the main things that, as a resident, I’m reluctant to admit I’ve not done.
Maybe you know how that goes: we seem to take these things for granted when they’re readily accessible to us. Before moving to Columbia Heights, I was a huge fan of Sticky Fingers Bakery and thought I’d be there every day, then I found a year had passed and in that time, I’d only stopped in once.
There’s probably a simple psychological explanation for it, too… like we tend to value things in inverse proportion to their proximity to us (so nearby things seem to be worth less) or we value things/experiences more when we work harder for them. I don’t remember the terms a psychologist might use, since it’s been awhile since I’ve studied the subject.
OK, my list.
- Terra Cotta Warriors at National Geographic. This is high on the list. The exhibit’ll only be around until the end of March, though tickets are sold out except for the free Wednesday passes. This means I’m going to have to line up straight after work on a Wednesday. However, a friend tells me I’d have to be in line by 5:15pm to even have a shot, which means I probably won’t make it there in time.
- The Newseum. Everyone I’ve talked to who has been raves about it and says it’s totally worth the entrance fee of $20 (wee bit cheaper for students). I’ve been delaying, and I partially attribute that to being spoiled by Smithsonian museums’ free entry.
- Politics and Prose bookstore. Yeah, I still haven’t been. They have great speaker events, such as Chang-rae Lee (author of Native Speaker and his new one, The Surrendered) this Thursday.
- G40 Art Exhibit. This one’s not really part of the same list, since I only heard about it last week, but heyyy big temporary spaces for art. If it’s anything like Artomatic, I’m down. Goes until the end of March. Ya’ll should check it out, too.