19 September 2011


We also have a great love of museums and this trip was an opportunity to visit a few of the world’s great collections. Nothing was much planned and there was limited time and some museums unexpectedly disappointed while others were stunning bliss to walk through. In Washington DC, I was bowled over by the National Gallery of Art and the Air and Space Museum and I loved the quirky little Folger Shakespeare Library with its world’s largest collection of First folios (4 on display on the day). The National had very good collections of mediaeval/enlightenment European paintings and modern portraiture. In the foyer alone of the Air and Space museum were John Glenn’s Mercury capsule, the Gemini capsule used for the first space walk, the Apollo 11 command module, the first private spacecraft, Goddard’s pioneering rocketry and much more. And you touch a bit of moon rock. Stunning. You can touch Mars rock in the Natural History Museum. I was disappointed by the American History Museum and the American Indian Museum was an unusual offering that was enlightening through a unique approach.

NYC was just MOMA and the Met, although there was so much more. MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) was stunning, of course, with famed pieces around each corner, sculptures that seem to recur (how often have I seen one or more burghers of Calais?) and a fascinating temporary exhibit on interfaces and design. The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) was just a day lost in bliss. Incredible collections that were as much archeological as artistic. It means nothing to say I was stunned by the Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Mediaeval collections. The American collections, the Art Deco, the Middle East were less known to me but wonderful. A feature are the many rooms that have been purchased and rebuilt here: two from Pompeii, from Florence and Gubbio, Frank Lloyd Wright, many others, and a whole Egyptian temple that was saved from the Aswan Dam and gifted to the US. We spent ~8 hours and just touched the surface of this superbly presented and incredibly rich collection.

We were lucky to catch a string quartet playing at a cafe in the Met. It was led by Beryl Diamond Chacon (violin) with Nelson Palgett (piano), Regis Iandiorio (violin) and Makisol Espada (cello). We heard the first set of waltzes and pleasantries, although there were some less common pieces there: J Strauss but also Friml and DeLibes. Beryl was offering more substantial music later but the collections called. These were capable players. Beryl spoke lightly of studying at Julliard years before, and her offsiders were no slouches. Lovely music in a stunning environment.

And the architecture is another beauty. Just one pic of two favourite buildings in NYC: the American Radiator Building and the canonical Empire State Building.

This is CJBlog post no. 700.

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