Friday, August 12, 2005

Museums and, surprise!, a movie

Harvard University, located in Cambridge, which is easily accessible by the Boston public transportation, has a lovely campus full of red brick academic buildings and has some excellent museums. Wednesday was museum day for me, and I overdid it a bit. First stop: Arthur M Sackler Museum, with its collection of Asian and Greek art, as well as a small Degas special exhibit. Next up: the Fogg Art Museum and Busch-Reisinger Museum, housed together in one building. The Fogg collection is very nice and well rounded with lots of international as well as American art, ranging from the very old to the modern. The Busch-Reisinger collection was a special treat, as it is composed of art from German-speaking countries. Continuing my tour down the street a bit, I came upon the Peabody Museum, where I really just wanted to see the glass flowers created by the Blaschkas from Hosterwitz, near Dresden. The Blaschkas were talented glass workers, and were commissioned to make these incredibly realistic botanical models for Harvard. Around 4,400 models of flowers, leaves, and plant parts belong to this collection, of which about 75% is on display. You're probably thinking "glass flowers, great", but these are really impressive, they look like real flowers with the exception that they are made of glass. Considering this, and the fact that they are about 100 years old, and the fact that these incredibly delicate models were transported from Saxony to the United States, makes this a worthwhile stop on any visit to Boston. Thanks to Colleen and Antje for the tip! The Peabody Museum is also interesting for other reasons, the glass flowers are just a tiny slice of what they have to offer. There is also a large exhibition about the Native Americans of North America, a large display of mounted birds, lots of dinosaur bones and fossils, minerals, and many things I didn't even see, as I showed up only an hour before closing time and spent most of my time gaping at the glass flowers.

Finally, exhausted from so many exhibitions, I continued on to the Museum of Fine Art, where Wednesday evening was free, and was also family night. So it was like a giant party in this huge museum, which ordinarily requires about 4 hours to take in, but which I, in my drunk-on-art state, viewed in nearly 2 hours. The atmosphere was perhaps more interesting to me than the exhibitions, there were just so many people, and so many kids, and it had the feeling of a big art celebration, which was fun following the sober afternoon in much more serious surroundings. The special exhibition here were the quilts of Gee's bend, Alabama, made mainly of old work clothes by African American women. These quilts were interesting in the combinations of materials and techniques, and that they didn't really follow any patterns.

And a movie. After all that culture, yesterday was a bit more relaxed. Visiting 4 museums in one day is exhausting. So I went on a photo mission yesterday, photographing every Dunkin' Donuts and bagel shop I could find, and I saw a movie, Murderball. This is a documentary about wheelchair-bound rugby players. It's really inspiring, and not just about the sport, but about the stories of the individuals featured in the film. I even learned that rugby was developed in Canada and was originally called murderball.

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