The city of Montreal is rich in art, from world-class museums of fine art to the smallest architectural details. There are important artistic precedents, such as that Montreal is home to Canada’s first museum of contemporary art, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). But one only has to walk the streets in order to enjoy art in Montreal. No entrance ticket, no admission fee is required. Green squares with statues, historic buildings with beautiful architecture, and seemingly plain walls turned into huge canvases covered in murals — this is only scratching the surface of art in Montreal. Yes, Montreal is a simply fantastic city for art lovers.
It isn’t just the visual arts that are so significant in Montreal. The performing arts are, too. Across the city, there are no short of performance halls, concert halls, theaters, and stages. Add to that festivals of all kinds, such as Montreal Jazz Festival and M for Montreal, that attract local and international talent around the year. I could go on forever. But, for brevity, let’s focus on the visual arts in this travel guide for art lovers in Montreal.
Montreal has had a special fondness for Alexander Calder since at least 1967 when he designed a massive metal sculpture called “Trois disques” (or “Man and His World”) for the city’s World Fair. Now through February 24, 2019, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is honoring the artist with Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor, a retrospective that highlights Calder’s unique works and showcases that he is much more than the mobiles he’s perhaps best known for. This rare exhibition is an insightful and striking display of Calder’s talent.
If you thought the riches of Munich, Germany are to be found in a Biergarten then you haven’t yet visited the city’s Treasury or Schatzkammer. The city’s gold isn’t just in liquid form! Housed in downtown Munich within the walls of the massive Munich Residenz compound, you can find priceless items that belonged to the kings and queens of Bavaria. These artful objects range from incredible jewels to masterfully crafted pieces.
The Freer|Sackler, that is the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, is easy to miss along the imposing and impressive National Mall in Washington, DC. The galleries are surrounded by significant museums. Just across the way is the popular Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Castle. The Hirshhorn Museum and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum are also nearby neighbors. It’s easy to not notice the Freer|Sackler given all those “distractions,” not to mention its petite buildings, relatively speaking.
But the Freer|Sackler Galleries are home to an impressive collection of Asian art as well as works from the American aesthetic movement, northern Africa, and the Islamic world. What’s more, there’s never been a better time to visit the museum. The dual museums celebrated a reopening in October 2017 after the Freer Gallery of Art was closed for renovations that lasted nearly two years. I recently visited the galleries and to say that the museums house an extraordinary collection is an understatement.
New York City is full of world class museums with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, arguably, casting the largest shadow. But if you’ve ever walked along 5th Avenue, the eastern border of Central Park, you’ve likely passed the Frick Collection and maybe didn’t even know it.
From the street, the building looks pretty much like any other in the quiet neighborhood. Well maintained, it’s set back from the street a little, surrounded by a modest formal garden. But inside the building on the corner of 5th Avenue and 70th Street is a substantial art collection that includes works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Whistler among many others!
To date, the state of Pennsylvania has only produced a single president. The 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan was originally from Cove Gap, in southcentral Pennsylvania just north of the Maryland border. But he settled in Lancaster which then served as the state capital. Wheatland was his longtime estate. Today it is a historic site worth visiting, less than two miles from the city center.
Historians would likely tell you that the one-term Buchanan is considered to be one of the worst presidents in US history. This is largely due to his failure to keep the country united. Seven states seceded from the Union under his leadership and shortly thereafter an all-out war broke out once Abraham Lincoln took office.
Regardless of your politics, Wheatland is a fascinating visit. Here you can learn the backstory and get an education on a man that, frankly, most average Americans known little of.
In so many ways Nuremberg’s Germanisches Nationalmuseum, or German National Museum, is reflective of modern Germany. It’s a blending of the old and the new. The antique and the modern. And they are blended in a way that the past is never forgotten. The present is always moving on. Moving forward.
It’s a feeling that hits you from your first moments inside the museum and you see a work of art titled “Hauptstadt.” Created in 1993-1994 by Raffael Rheinsberg, the work is a collection of street signs from the German Democratic Republic. Rheinsberg collected the signs after the fall of the wall before they disappeared. Some are in good condition, others show signs of wear or graffiti. But all are a reflection of where they were from: East Germany.
Located just along the edge of Nuremberg’s historic city center, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum houses the largest collection of “cultural history” in the German-speaking world.
Judging by the photo above of Nemours Mansion and Gardens, where do you think I am? France? Germany? Italy, perhaps? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. But I’m actually in Delaware. That’s right. The First State and the home of tax-free shopping has a magnificent mansion that draws on European influences.
Nemours Mansion and Gardens was the home of Alfred I. du Pont. The massive estate is today open to the public. It’s quite a remarkable home with impressive gardens. In fact, they are the largest formal French gardens in North America. And that’s before you consider that the estate isn’t in Europe and, really, isn’t all that old. It’s a taste of Europe’s royal golden age that is hard to find on this side of the Atlantic.
Munich is full of culture. It’s seemingly everywhere you look. The city is home to many top-rate museums. But as evidenced by two visits in a single week, the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum) is my new favorite. The museum is full of beautiful objects of all kinds. Some are works of art, others are tools of technology and still others are everyday objects. I want to share why you simply shouldn’t miss the museum.
History buffs won’t want to miss Philadelphia because, as you might have heard, the city played a rather key role in the founding of the country. In the city’s Old City neighborhood you can see important sites of historic Philadelphia, like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Constitution Hall. It’s a traveler’s delight because many of the most important and interesting historic attractions are free and allow you up-close access. You can easily get it all in within a single day. So strap on your walking shoes and let’s get going. Here’s my guide to a day in Philadelphia for history buffs!