Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum Brings French Sculpture Stateside

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Gates of Hell relief at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.

Nestled between New York City and Washington, D.C., Philadelphia can be easily overlooked. We’re often underrated. But the City of Brotherly Love has some incredible secrets, especially when it comes to art. The Rocky movies memorialize the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But within the walls of the impressive building is, unquestionably, a world class museum. Only recently has the Barnes Foundation’s indescribable treasures been opened up to the public and is also accessible from the Ben Franklin Parkway. Just like Philadelphia can be overlooked, the Rodin Museum is often passed by for the bigger names. No, not the one in Paris; the one in Philadelphia. Just as Albert C. Barnes collected priceless art, so, too, did Jules E. Mastbaum collect the works of Auguste Rodin. The museum houses the largest collection of Rodin’s work outside of the French capital. And it’s in Philadelphia, just a stone’s throw from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation.

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Post by . Originally published February 18, 2015. Last updated August 5, 2018.

A Trip to Alcatraz to See Ai Wei Wei

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alcatraz island

It wasn’t that long ago I was wishing I could attend the exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Berlin. Then it was announced that the famed (or infamous) dissident would be showcasing a new collection — @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz — at the famed (or infamous) Alcatraz Prison. To be honest, I really didn’t have all that much interest in Alcatraz, especially given that we were only in town for 48 hours. But that changed once I found out about the exhibit. And it changed again once I arrived on the island prison known as “The Rock.”
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Germany’s 25 Years Since the Berlin Wall

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approaching the east side gallery

Recently, every time I watch German television online or read a digital newspaper, I keep seeing specials about the past 25 years popping up. In one week from today, on November 9, 2014, it will be 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In October of 2015 it will be 25 years since the official reunification of Germany. For millions of people, everyday life has changed in ways that many of us could never understand and probably never will.

Likewise, it has made me reflect on my own trip to Berlin in 2009. While there, I stayed in former East Berlin along Friedrichstrasse. I didn’t stay there because of the East German connection. Instead, I simply stayed there because today it’s central Berlin. The area is around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten and many of the city’s museums on Museuminsel. During my visit, the East Side Gallery, the longest section of the Berlin Wall, was in the process of being restored. Wherever possible, the original artists were repainting their pieces. We walked along the open air gallery, at times separated from the wall by fencing protecting the restorations in progress.

Now look at the German capital. It’s truly amazing how quickly things can change.
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Post by . Originally published November 2, 2014. Last updated November 2, 2014.

Museum Visit: Barnes Foundation

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philadelphia skyline in the fog

With work, life, errands, household routines and so on, it’s not often that we make time to visit the local area outside of predetermined, pre-scheduled vacations. So it was a lovely little break on Saturday when we journeyed into Philadelphia, despite some cold and wet weather, to visit the Barnes Foundation and then enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner at the Stephen Starr German biergarten-themed restaurant Frankford Hall (more on that in another post). Unfortunately, I think this is when I’m going to start sounding like some half-baked conspiracy theorist. Let me assure you that I am not. But, then again, isn’t that what you’d expect a half-baked conspiracy theorist to say?
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Post by . Originally published October 16, 2014. Last updated October 15, 2014.

Museum Visit: Mashantucket Pequot Museum

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The Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut.

When I visited the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in 2005 for the first time it made an impression. The building is massive and the architecture, which features more windows than you can count, is certainly eye catching. The exhibits on display are interesting as well as well curated. There are also many elements of interactive technology to make learning hands-on. While I may not be a casino girl, I certainly am a museum girl. And the Mashantucket Pequot Museum is a favorite. So as we planned our recent trip to Mystic, Connecticut, I was hesitant to visit the museum again. Would it still be as impressive? Or has it gone downhill in the intervening years? Luckily, I had nothing to worry about.
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Visiting Mystic Seaport in Connecticut

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Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.

If you’re a boat-buff or simply enjoy visiting historic sites, then Mystic Seaport is for you. Even landlubbers will enjoy it. The museum was founded in 1929 and consists of a recreation of a 19th century village complete with marina, shipyard and lighthouse. And did I mention boats? There are plenty of ships, including four that are recognized as national historic landmarks: the fishing schooner L. A. Dunton, the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, the fishing sloop Emma C. Berry, and the coal-powered steam ship Sabino. During our recent trip to Mystic, Connecticut, we spent the better part of a day exploring the family-friendly seaport.

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Post by . Originally published September 11, 2014. Last updated January 1, 2018.

My Must See List: Pfahlbauten Museum

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Pfahlbauten Museum Unteruhldingen Bodensee

It only took a single trip to the Bodensee (that’s Lake Constance in English) a couple of years ago for it to steal my heart. Or maybe it was the scenic train ride to and from Munich. Regardless, there’s so much to see, do and explore on and around the lake that’s nestled between Germany, Austria and Switzerland near the Alps. One of those many things to explore is the Pfahlbauten Museum, an open air museum consisting of a village of stilt-homes on the lake. The dwellings are inspired by those dating from the Stone and Bronze Age. Located in Unteruhldingen in the federal state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg on the northwest shore of Lake Constance, the Pfahlbauten Museum is also on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
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Rocky’s Revamp: Philadelphia Museum of Art To Be Renovated

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, or perhaps you know it better as the building whose steps Rocky ran up?, is getting some work done! Recently the museum announced that it would be renovating and expanding the City of Brotherly Love’s premiere art museum. Famed architect Frank Gehry has been named in charge of the project which will see the addition of 169,000 square feet of space.
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Post by . Originally published June 4, 2014. Last updated June 3, 2014.

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

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North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

If you are in the Outer Banks area and you’re looking for something to do, say, for a morning or an afternoon, you might want to consider the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. North Carolina has several state aquariums and one can be found down a quiet residential road, near an airport, on the edge of Roanoke Island. It’s a small aquarium but a very nice one with plenty of things to stop and enjoy depending on your level of interest and your schedule.
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A Visit to The Wright Brothers National Memorial

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View of the Wright Brothers Monument

I recently watched a film starring Clark Gable and Gene Tierney called Never Let Me Go. In the film, which takes place post-WWII as US/Russian relations are getting tense, Gable is an American soldier stationed in Russia who meets a Russian ballerina and falls in love. He meets an English soldier in a similar situation. The Englishman tells him a story of how he met his Russian wife. She was acting as a translator for him during a dinner with a group of Russian soldiers. During the dinner the Russian soldiers keep making toast after toast and everyone is getting very drunk. But what’s funny is the toasts that they’re making. “To the inventor of the ,” they say and then give a decidedly Russian name. This goes on for a number of important inventions, including the airplane. When the Englishman tries to correct them, he figures it’s more trouble than it’s worth to insult his hosts and simply drinks the vodka. Well I can tell you that they did not toast the Wright Brothers as the inventors of the airplane.
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A Visit to the Elizabethan Gardens

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The Elizabethan Gardens

Earlier this year I failed to make the time to go to the Philadelphia Flower Show. It would have been my first time to attend the world’s largest indoor flower show. Then I ended up visiting Winterthur on a raw and rainy day to see the Downton Abbey costume exhibit. It was also early enough in the year that not much was in bloom anyhow. But I made up for them both with my first visit to the Elizabethan Garden in Manteo, North Carolina.
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Museum Visit: Winterthur & Downton Abbey Costumes

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Downton Abbey Costumes at Winterthur

If you’re anything like me, it always seems to be the attractions that are close by that I never get around to visiting. For years I’ve wanted to visit Winterthur and for years I just never got around to it. Funny how that works out. Fast forward to the announcement last year that Winterthur would have a special exhibit of costumes from the television show Downton Abbey. Then all of sudden, I made time to go to Winterthur. Funny how that works out.

So with my partner in crime for the Downton Abbey exhibit — in this case, my mother — we headed down to Delaware on a Friday morning to indulge in the dress of the English wealthy being exhibited in an American mansion.
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