IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2006
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GUARDIANS OF HISTORY
3 January 2007
One of the blogs that I enjoy is Question of the Day, which isn't so much a blog as it is...well...a question of the day. She doesn't appear to have a lot of readers, based on how many people respond to the questions, but she asks some fun questions sometimes.
You get the idea. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious. Sometimes I answer, sometimes I don't. The other day the question was "So, tell us, which is your favourite museum and why?" It got me thinking about museums in general.
I'm the kind of person who would do best taking museums in one or two hour increments. While I find many things fascinating, my brain zones out after awhile and then I don't really appreciate what I'm seeing. The British Museum, for example, is so totally overwhelming. I would do best to actually move to London for several months and visit it for an hour or so a day every few days for several weeks.
But I have some outstanding memories of museums we have visited, moments that make me stand in awe of what I'm seeing.
I will never forget my visit to the "statue room" of the Victoria & Albert museum in London. I hadn't really thought of marble statues much before, and this room really looks like a statue garage sale.
But as I began to really look at those statues and I became a statue fan instantly. That someone could take essentially a rock and create flowing robes, folds of flesh, emotion on faces...well, I just never had appreciated statues before until I visited the V&A.
I had another "blown away" moment at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I have long been a fan of Van Gogh and when we visited Amsterdam with my mother, that was the one thing I wanted to be sure we saw: the museum. I was unprepared for my emotional reaction to being able to start at the very beginning, the "Potato Eaters" period and follow the walls around, tracing his history, seeing visual manifestation of his growing genius — and madness.
It's an absolutely amazing collection, but then we went upstairs to the "attic" and saw the stuff they decided not to use. If this was the "bad stuff," I'd be happy to take it off their hands!
There have been some funny moments in Museums. For example the day I was standing at the Tupperware display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History (my favorite of the Smithsonian buildings) and realized that I was looking at a display of Tupperware I am still using.
Another time was at the Railroad museum in Old Sacramento where I realized that one of the train cars you could tour was a railway mail car similar to the one my father worked in his whole life. There is nothing that makes you realize your age like finding part of your life in a museum!
When I was in Australia, we visited the Western Australian Maritime Museum where you can see both the Australia II, the racing yacht which took the Americas Cup from the United States in 1983 and the Parry Endeavor, the yacht on which Jon Sanders sailed around the globe three times (the Endeavor is on the right in the photo below)
The interesting thing about the Endeavor display was the supply of food that Sanders took, which included a disgusting amount of Vegemite!
But if I had to pick my absolute favorite museum (thus far) it would have to be the Museum of the City of London. I had never even heard of this museum until our second trip to London. I had written about the first trip on CompuServe and received an e-mail from someone who suggested that we visit this museum, which is at the Barbizon Center, and so not in the main hub of things.
As you enter the museum, you are in a display of pre-historic London and as you move around, it takes you through the various period is the history of London — the Roman occupation (which is situated by a large window that overlooks the ruins of an old Roman wall), Saxon and Medieval London, Tudor and Stuart London. As you reach about the 16th Century, and then forward to modern times, each section contains a sample of a typical house of the time, each of which includes a recording of the kind of music which might have been heard during the period. You get a real feel for what life was like (minus the smells, of course!)
There is a section devoted to Samuel Pepys, the original blogger, a nice section on theatre throughout the history of London, and it ends at the magnificent Lord Mayor's Coach, used by the Queen once a year, for the Lord Mayor's Show. It is stored on a platform in a shallow pool of water (presumably to make it more difficult to steal!)
The coach is so beautifully opulent that it literally took my breath away the first time I saw it.
We haven't really visited any of the more
famous museums of the world — Versailles, The Hermitage, any of the museums
in Italy or Spain, but I do have sparkling memories of the places I have
visited. I may not have appreciated all of the finer points, but each
in its own way made a stunning impression.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Statue from the National Museum of the American Indian
This is entry #2470