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Art, Museums, Travel, UK

Museums of London

August 28, 2017

Museums of London

There are probably more than one hundred museums in London. It can be hard to see them all in a short visit and I didn’t see them all in the month I was there. So how do you choose which ones to visit? For me, it all depends on my interests. Here are the ones I saw and who I recommend each one for.

The British Museum

Museums of London

The British Museum is likely the most famous museum in the world. The museum holds artifacts from around the world, so the name is slightly deceiving. Its most famous artifact is the Rosetta Stone. However, it isn’t all artifacts, there is usually a special exhibition on. When I was there, the special exhibition was The Great Wave by Hokusai. If you enjoy world history or there is a special exhibition you want to see, I recommend a visit. However, it can be very crowded even on week days. Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Museums of London

The next most famous museum in London. I visited the V&A in high school with my Mom and we both remember it being our favorite place in London, so I just had to go back. This museum is an eclectic mix of art, fashion, architecture and decorative arts.  Since they collect in so many areas, there may be several special exhibitions going on at the same time. Anyone who enjoys fashion, architecture or design will enjoy this museum. It can be crowded in some sections of the museum and some were completely empty! Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

Textile and Fashion Museum

Museums of London

A friend recommended the Textile and Fashion Museum to me because of my interest in fashion. What I didn’t realize is they don’t have a permanent collection, so you only see one exhibition. When I was there, the exhibit was about fashion designer Anna Sui. So my advice is to check out the current exhibition before you go. This museum is probably only for the die hard fashion fan. Admission: £9.90 with gift aid

The Geffrye Museum

Museums of London

The Geffrye Museum is billed as the museum of the home. I have always been curious as to the home lives of people of the past and this peaked my interest. Given the size of the museum, I expected more of a mock up of each period. However, each mock up was just the formal living room of each period. While still impressive, I was slightly disappointed. The museum also runs along a long narrow hallway, so it can be difficult to pass people in the museum. I recommend going around the back of the museum to the gardens. I only recommend this museum if you are a very interested in historic homes. Admission: Free

The National Gallery

Museums of London

I managed to make it to the National Gallery on my last full day in London and it did not disappoint! It is full of historic masterpieces including, Monet, Van Gogh and Da Vinci. What I was really glad about is that each section was based on a time period and the highlights were listed on the map. Anyone who loves art or has an interest in a specific artist should visit the National Gallery. Admission: Free

Cutty Sark

Museums of London

Some may not call this a museum, but the Cutty Sark is a part of the Royal Museums Greenwich and is a separate entrance fee. I love boats and to be able to visit a historic clipper ship, I had to go! If you are a boat or maritime fan, then this is a must see for you. Keep in mind that you have to climb up stairs to enter and get around the Cutty Sark. Admission: £13.50

The Queens Gallery

Museums of London

Right next door to the entrance to Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s Gallery. This museum offers rotating exhibitions throughout the year, which are sourced from the Royal Collection. This is another place that you will need to check the current exhibition to see if it is something you are interested in, but I recommend it if you have an interest in art. Due to it being the Queen’s Gallery, I recommend you get advance tickets otherwise you may have to wait some time to get in. Admission: £11

Royal Academy of Arts

Museums of London

The draw of the Royal Academy of Art for me was the Summer Exhibition. This exhibit takes place annually and displays current artist’s work. This exhibit was huge and inspiring. There were all kinds of art on display. There was also another exhibition taking place. Each exhibition is a separate admission. This museum is an art lover’s dream museum. Admission: Varies

The Charterhouse

Museums of London

I actually saw a brochure for The Charterhouse in a pub! So those flyers in hotels and bars do work. The Charterhouse brochure caught my eye because it has been living the nation’s history since 1348! As a history lover, I had to go check it out. The Charterhouse is a working almshouse still today. The members have to be over 60 and in financial need. They help out in the museum and give tours. The members have kept excellent records over the years and they have a small museum. Tours are offered on a reservation basis. The Charterhouse just opened its doors to the public in January 2017, so it is a hidden gem. Admission: Free, tours are a fee

The London Wall

Museums of London

While technically this is not a museum, I am including The London Wall as I think it is a must see while in London. The London Wall is located just outside the Museum of London and that is how I ended up finding it. I never made it to the Museum of London. The wall was built by the Romans around 200 AD and is about two miles long. You can walk most of it, but the day I was there the gate at one of the towers was locked so I only saw a small portion. I could have walked around to the other side but it was getting dark and I thought I would get lost. Any history buff or Roman history expert will love this ruin. Admission: Free

The Tate Modern

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern was my first museum stop in London and I wrote a whole blog post about it here. I am not usually a fan of modern art, but I wanted to see the building. The art was excellent and I really enjoyed my time there. I recommend it for all art enthusiasts even if modern art isn’t your thing. Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

The Postal Museum

I had heard about the Postal Museum and wanted to visit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t open until September 4th! The museum is about mail delivery via subway trains in London. You will even be able to ride the mail train, which is what I really wanted to do. So if you get to London, go do this for me, please! Admission: Entry and Mail Rail ride £16, includes donation, entry only £11

What museums in London are your favorites?

Museums, Travel, UK

A Tour of the Tate Modern in London

July 31, 2017

Tate Modern

People keep asking me what I am going to do London for a month, I respond, “See all the museums!” In order to do that you have to get started right away. I probably won’t review each one I visit individually, but the Tate Modern needed its own post as it is quite large.

Now I am not a huge fan of modern art. However, two years ago when I attended the Venice Biennale I had a change of heart and decided I would be more open to seeing modern art. This motivated me to see the Tate Modern plus I had heard so much about the building.

Getting to the Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is accessible by several tube stations including Blackfriars and Southwark. However, I recommend arriving at St. Paul’s station and walking across the Millenium Bridge. This offers you an amazing view of the museum and of the Thames River.

Tate Modern

Inside the Tate Modern

The building used to be a power station, so it is quite large. However, don’t let the size scare you away from visiting. The museum is well laid out and has elevators and escalators to every floor, so you never have to climb the stairs unless you want to.

Tate Modern

Unless you are at the museum to see a specific exhibition, I would start on the first floor and work you way up. Then you can cross to the other side of the museum and work your way down.

Tate Modern

Don’t forget to look at the structure of the building as it is essentially part of the art. This is best done from the bridges between the two gallery spaces. You can do so at each level and get a different perspective. Also, go down to the ground floor and look up. It is then you get a sense of how large the space really is.

Tate Modern

What I really enjoyed about the Tate Modern is the size. I never felt I couldn’t see the art and even though there was a line to get in, it was never crowded inside.

Tate Modern

Not all the art was modern either! There was a room with Mark Rothko piece and he was inspired by Monet’s large art. So, there was one of Monet’s Water Lillies right next to the room!

Tate Modern

The other thing I really loved about the Tate Modern is that the space allows for large art to be on exhibition. For some reason, large pieces of art appeal to me. It’s probably why I like Monet so much!

Tate Modern

Tate Modern

See St. Pauls

This is one of the great unknowns of the Tate Modern, but it offers stunning views of St. Pauls! If you head to the 3rd floor gift shop outside the visiting exhibition space. There is a smoking balcony there and you can see St. Pauls. You can also see the Millenium Bridge. The sun was shining the day I went and the man next to me said to someone, “St. Pauls is glistening. That rarely happens.” It is definitely a sight to see.

Tate Modern

Have you been to the Tate? What is your favorite piece there?

Qatar, Travel

Art in the Qatar Desert: Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East

February 1, 2016

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra Over this last weekend, I was a chaperone on an overnight camping trip in the Qatar desert. The students had picked the area under the Richard Serra sculpture East-West/West-East, which I had not been to yet. The area of Qatar that it is located in is called Zekreet. It does not take long to drive out there unless you are bringing a van load of students in a non off-roading vehicle. As we bumped along the sometimes bumpy and rocky desert, the beauty and enormity of the sculpture became present. It almost looks as if an alien ship used these four pillars to dock their ship and left them behind when they decided Qatar was too hot to stay in. The surrounding landscape is also what many movies have used to depict an alien planet. The sculpture both takes over the landscape but also blends right in. The light changes the desert and the sculpture throughout the day. The photos were taken from the early afternoon to evening and then early the next morning as the sun came up.

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

 

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Art in the Qatar Desert, Richard Serra

Richard Serra and the Qatar Museums wanted this piece to be public art. You can drive right up to the sculpture and touch it. The steel is developing a patina quickly in the desert climate. What I like most about Richard Serra’s work is that it gives you a sense of space, whether the piece is something you can walk right up to or a piece that you can into. East-West/West-East isn’t the only Richard Serra piece in Qatar. 7 is located at the end of the Museum of Islāmic Art Park on the corniche in Doha.

Getting there: As I witnessed this weekend, you may not need a four-wheeled drive vehicle to get to the Richard Serra sculpture, but you might want one to be more comfortable. At different times of the day, the sculpture looks different, so keep that in mind. Also, if you want photos with no one else in them, go early or late in the day as people were visiting it all day. Luckily you can now search for East-West/West-East on a Google map and find driving directions. We headed out of Doha on the Dukhan Highway and exited at the Cuban Hospital and drove out to Zekreet village and approached from the west, but you can approach from the east. Here is a link to the Google map location.

Art, Europe, Italy, Museums, Travel

Museo Fortuny in Venice

September 14, 2015

Museo Fortuny

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a museum nut! I will go to every museum possible on a trip. Now, I am not a spend hours in them kind of person. I am a big believer in art fatigue and information overload. If I spend too long in a museum, I begin not to appreciate what I see. That being said, I still love them. Museo Fortuny in Venice was no exception. So in an effort to see one more museum, I took off to Museo Fortuny the morning of my flight back to Qatar. I knew I had just enough time to get to the museum when it opened and spend an hour there before I needed to return to my hotel to collect my luggage and haul myself to the airport.

Once again, I hadn’t done tons of research on this museum. I had just read about it in the guidebook and saw a banner for it on one of my strolls through the narrow streets of Venice. I did not know that Museo Fortuny was only open when they have a temporary exhibit installed, which the guidebook did not mention. It was a good thing that the museum was running the exhibit “Proportio” to run concurrently with the Venice Biennale. The exhibit was designed to explore the sense of proportion in art.  The pieces ranged from small building size to miniature models. Other pieces felt like they were giving you a sense of the rooms proportions. The exhibition was amazing, and every floor brought a new sense of proportion and feeling to the rooms that they inhabited. My favorite was the all white room that had very minimal art in it. That being said, I must have been too mesmerized by this floor as I only took two photos in this room. One photo is the one below of that is of the windows with the white curtains. The room with the mirrors and the writing on the walls is the “Selfie Studio” and you can see me taking the photo in the mirror.

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

 

Museo Fortuny

I really wish the museum was open during non-temporary exhibit times with it’s own collection. The description on the website and the pictures I have seen online look amazing. Apparently, Fortuny had a great collection of fashion, textiles, photos and paintings. I particularly love historic fashions and would have enjoyed seeing those. The website does not explain why the permanent collection is never exhibited though. I will have to watch and see if they ever plan to do so.

The museum also had some amazing views from the windows and the ground floor garden.

Museo Fortuny

Museo Fortuny

 

Museo Fortuny

 

So if you are planning a visit to Venice before the end of November, then run to the Museo Fortuny so you don’t miss the current exhibition. Then make your way of over to the Venice Biennale. You can see some of my favorite pieces from that exhibition in this post.

Have you been to the Museo Fortuny? What was showing when you went?

 

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