Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain)
10 and a half years ago, I went to the Guggenheim in New York and was underwhelmed to say the least. I know most people like it - as evidenced by the fact my paltry 3 star rating on here didn't do anything to dent the 5 star average coming from everyone else - but to me it just didn't measure up to the Met, the MOMA or the Frick. I ... didn't come to Bilbao for the Guggenheim as some people might...I came because Easyjet wanted me to, tempting me with cheap returns from Manchester. But since the gallery is pretty much the icon of the city, I decided to give it another shot.
Located on the banks of the Río Nervión, the Guggenheim was built in 1997 in what is now recognised as a successful attempt to regenerate the city, though I'm sure Easyjet also helped. The curved titanium building, designed by Frank Gehry, is at least as impressive as its contents, and indeed you can get a good start on your sightseeing / photo taking before you head inside. On the waterside is Maman, a deceptively docile name for a 30ft high spider whose relations you might know from the Tate Modern or, if you're more of a world traveller, from Kansas City, St Petersburg, Ottawa, Tokyo, Seoul or Doha. It's a striking structure against the backdrop of the water on one side and the metallic gallery roof on the other, and can be visited even when the museum is shut (great if you've cruised into town on a Monday). Up higher at an elevated street level is an equally massive but much more welcoming figure, Jeff Koons' 'Flower Puppy'. Originally designed as a temporary being for the opening, locals petitioned to keep it and have since adopted it very much as the symbol of the city, begging the question of what on earth they had on mugs and plates and t-shirts and post cards and keyrings before he came along.
Puppy is useful as a navigation point because he marks the main entrance - otherwise you could be walking the long way round to find the way in. My guide book shows a picture of a snaking queue of people clammering to get in, so with this in mind (and because we're early risers) we were there for 10am when it opened. It was a Tuesday and I also wondered if that might make it busier, with those on poorly timed mini breaks wanting to squeeze it in before departing. Knowing full well everything would be shut on a Monday, we booked a 5 night stay in the city and allocated that day for shopping, but not everyone plans accordingly. So yes, we were there at 10am, and the doors were open but there was no line, so we walked down the oddly sized steps to the entrance, politely walked up and down the empty lines as directed by the ropes, and got our tickets. This is by far the most expensive thing to see/do in Bilbao, and we paid $11 per adult, being in that dubious period of years where I'm no longer a student but she's not quite an old aged pensioner. Discounts are available for both those groups, and you can also get a combined ticket for her and the Bellas Artes museum, but we knew that was free on Wednesdays so planned to go then instead. Almost every museum in Bilbao has a 'museum day' with free entry on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The Guggenheim does not.
Included in the price were audio guides, though we had to ask for these - oddly the other visitors arriving were given them automatically. Tell the cashier your language, and they'll set it for you, then you just have to listen to an intro about the gallery and how to use the thing, and you're good to go.
So, the art. There really isn't much but at first you don't notice because the building's quite fancy and the architecture deserves a second glance. We left the main hall for the ground floor exhibition space which is currently almost entirely devoted to the work of Richard Serra, an American sculptor who likes big sheets of metal. By big I mean huge - 14 feet high, weighing 200+ tons, that kind of thing. The first one was an adventure - we walked round and round trying to get to the middle of a circle, without the thrill/danger of being in a maze and having the option of getting lost. After that they became, dare I say it, a little repetitive. You can't really appreciate them from ground level, though we later discovered a 2nd floor balcony that gives a much better overview.
We moved on. 'The Inverted Mirror' is on display until September 2012. It contains, the info leaflet tells me, works from 52 artists, though the one thing I didn't see was an inverted mirror - a few very flattering tilted mirrors, sure, but nothing that I would class as inverted. It did have some fun things though. Three precariously balanced oil drums were apparently a metaphor for the economy, though whether Europe's finances were oily and sticky, or just precarious, I'm not sure. Massive canvases made from old army beds had an equally potent message, though it escapes me now. The audio tour was terribly enlightening, if only for the pretentious back stories for the works that sounded far too far fetched, almost as if someone had made them up to add depth and meaning what was, for all intents and purposes, just a nice piece of art. Felix Gonzalez-Torres' strip of light bulbs was pretty but no more 'art' in some ways than the neon pink gloves turned inside out on the hotel desk across the room from me as I write this, and yet there was a back story to his piece that went on....and on.
Upstairs the answer to the question '¿Qué será?' was surprisingly...a bit more Serra, this time with Brâncuşi, a Romanian sculptor who Serra visited in the 1960s. The combined exhibition is a bit more of the same for Serra including the 'House of Cards' which was a revelation for him, the first time he realised that instead of leaning things against walls he could...lean them against each other. "The transitive verb 'to prop'", the audio guide proudly told us. For all he inspired Serra, Brâncuşi's work here is quite different with a distinctly African theme. Wooden carvings include a token totem pole and a Adam/Eve hybrid with clear sexual overtones that you don't need the audio guide to detect (spoiler alert: she has balls).
After this excitement, nothing else was that memorable. The permanent exhibition includes a range of installations from artists across the world. One cluster features industrial materials - burlap sacks full of coal mounted on the wall, British slate arranged in a round, crop-circle-esque. The maps on the wall weren't that helpful and we almost missed these, only stumbling across them when we were looking for the loos.
In all we were there almost 2 hours, and the place was definitely getting more crowded with tour groups and school parties as we left. The museum has a shop that spans 3 floors and sells Puppy magnets, Puppy posters, Puppy bookmarks and a few non-Puppy items too. There's also an (expensive) restaurant and a cafeteria. There's free wifi in the building, useful for those essential 'look how cultured I am' Facebook or Foursquare check ins...
I am a bit suspicious of galleries which feature more temporary exhibitions than permanent ones, and this one has done nothing to lessen my scepticism. An interesting place to visit but you wouldn't want to rush back and while there are other museums I'd be a regular at if I lived in the city (like the Bellas Artes) this would never be one of them, even if it were free. It's not a good sign when the best bits about an art gallery are the flower dog and metal spider outside, so for me it's simply another mediocre 3* Guggenheim to tick off the bucket list.
Read the complete review
Museum in Schindler's Factory (Krakow, Poland)
Schindler's Factory - The museum of Krakow 1939 - 1945 -1956 The museum can be found at 4 Lipowa street which is about three kilometers southeast from Krakow's Old Town historical centre. Apparently parking is hard to find in the area so it might be best to park elsewhere and walk or use public transport.The nearest bus stop ... within walking distance of Schindler's Factory is Krakowska Akademia stop at Herlinga Grudzinskiego street. The closest tram stop is situated at Plac Bohaterow Getta square.
Oskar Schindler's extremely brave sheltering of hundreds of Jewish people who would otherwise have perished in the Concentration Camps just outside Krakow is a story that most people know well from the film 'Schindler's List' which was based on a Thomas Keneally book called 'Schindler's Ark' I believe.
We went hunting for the factory on foot across a bridge and then stupidly followed road signs so we turned the wrong way and walked about a mile more than we should have. It isn't very well signed so do use your map and common sense and don't follow the signs for cars as it takes you a very long way round.
The factory when used by Oskar Schindler made enamelware and one section of the museum spends some time on the history of the factory and what they made, who worked there and how Schindler was able to save them from the Nazis. There was also a film with clips from Schindler survivors who told their story of how they were gradually pushed into the ghetto then rounded up and how Schindler managed to rescue about 1200 from the Nazi clutches.
Strangely Schindler was a Nazi and it was this fact that enabled him to hide all these Jewish people. He was no saint as he enjoyed a drink and was keen to turn a profit but his heart must have been in the right place as he didn't need to save all those people and risked his life so doing. The factory was previously owned by a Jewish family and initially he was motivated by greed employing Jews as they were cheap labour and he arranged for a pretty awful camp to be built near to his factory to house his work force.
So although he was initially after turning a profit he soon began to spend his own money on rescuing these people. He persuaded the Nazis to move the factory further out of the city. It has been estimated that he spent about 4 million marks of his own money on bribing Nazis and protecting his work force and his wife even sold her jewellery. Interestingly whilst he was making shells at his factory in Brunlitz not one shell left the factory in working condition.
The museum is open April to October on Tuesday to Sunday from 10am till 5.30. In Winter the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am till 4pm most days but 10am till 5pm on the week end and it stays open late on Thursday till 7pm.
Today the original factory gates are still there and the windows have photos of many of the survivors saved by Schindler. Once you enter the building you have to leave any bags and coats (great as it is really hot inside the museum and mighty cold outside when we were there) with a cloak room attendant and you are given a ticket for its collection.
Opposite the cloak room is a small gift counter, not really a shop and really it had postcards and books and not a lot else. Oh yes you could buy enamel mugs with Schindler's factory on them too.
Entry to the museum is 15 zloty which considering what an amazingly huge place this is with the most fabulous exhibits and gallery after gallery packed with information and photos as well as interactive displays I think it is just so worth a visit.
Before visiting Krakow Ii was pretty ignorant of how badly the residents of this city suffered under the Nazi invasion. Everyone knows the Nazis were foul but they refined they art of foulness here I think.
The galleries covered so many aspects of life in Krakow and the stories are told through individual people's stories. So many aspects are covered from everyday life of the people, the role of Krakow as the seat of central government, the underground and the ghetto. The exhibits include film clips, photos, actual items as well as interactive things such as mini films you look through sort of viewers a bit like binoculars and there were also stamping machine with cards that had a specific memorable date and information. You could then put a printed stamp on your card as a souvenir. I think there were about five or six of these and if you were taking a class of children around I suspect that these could be very busy.
The central feature of the entire museum is the city of Krakow and its inhabitants, both the Polish and the Jewish communities who were confronted with the German occupation.
As you move through the galleries you are taken from pre -war Krakow with happy looking people, lots of photos and music and radios playing, the German invasion in 1939, Krakow as the capital of Poland under the Nazi occupation, the horrors and struggles of everyday living in the occupied city, family life, the wartime history of Krakow Jews, the resistance movement, the underground Polish state, and lastly the Soviet capture of the city. You really are taken on an emotional roller coaster as you walk from gallery to gallery.
Within the museum parts of it had been left as they were or recreated and these included Schindler's office and a huge display of enamel ware as made in the factory but this is only part of the entire story which starts in 1939 and as you move through galleries, all 22 of them you become immersed in the horror that Krakow underwent during these years of terror. As a visitor become increasingly aware of the fear, uncertainty, pain and terror felt by the people in the city not only the Jews, but all the residents of Kraków.
Entire streets have been recreated to show what Krakow was like at the time and indeed the ghetto complete with the wall built to look like gravestones is also recreated within the museum. This is no small insignificant museum the galleries are huge and the exhibits life sized and so real.
It is a really huge museum and you do have to walk quite a way. They say allow a couple of hours but in my view you could take even longer as there really is a lot to see and a lot of walking. We had to go up and down several sets of stairs so if you have mobility problems this could be difficult. I think that I saw a lift but should you need this I would phone before going to check.
This is a very new museum using the latest technology and interactive displays so that children can access the information as well as adults. It is a museum that will also help the residents of Krakow and Poland come to terms with what they went through. It is a chance for the younger generation to have an idea of what their parents and grandparents lived through and survived despite the odds.
The exhibition brings to life all the horror and problems of this time which had particularly unusual significance for the later history of not only Kraków but Poland and the whole of Europe. This time and war changed the face of Europe as it was known then and it was not until fairly recently that the residents of many parts of Europe have been allowed Western freedoms tha we have enjoyed for many years. All the information is in both Polish and English which was very forward thinking as so many nationalities speak English and so few English speak other languages.
If you are in Krakow this is one place that I would say really opens your eyes to the history of the city and the terrible suffering that the inhabitants underwent at this time. Having seen the film I really wanted to visit the factory and it was an unexpected bonus that we found this fabulous museum.
Just around the corner you can also visit the Gestapo cells which were used for torture and imprisonment and the empty cells now bare the inscriptions carved by former prisoners. We didn't visit these as by the time we had been around the museum we felt pretty emotionally drained and also suffering a little from information overload. I do find there comes a point in most museums when Ii just can't actually take in any more information. That is why I like to visit local museums and only go to a small part each time.
As well as toilets, which were very modern clean and efficient and free there was the small gift shop I mentioned and a lovely little cafe called as the 'Movie Cafe'. This was made to be part of the museum too as all the walls are covered in pictures taken during the making of 'Schindler's List' and memorabilia from the film itself is displayed. We didn't stop here for food as we were wanting to get closer to our hotel and were planning on grabbing a bit at one of the places in the nearby shopping centre but the food was quite appetising.
Anyway as I said this is a pretty impressive museum fill of information and exhibits recreated and original and I certainly learned a lot from my visit. I would say allow at least two hours but probably longer is really needed to take it all in.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
Read the complete review
Deutsches Auswandererhaus (Bremerhaven, Germany)
The biggest German ports are Hamburg on the river Elbe and Bremen on the river Weser situated where the rivers flow into the North Sea. More than twelve million people, Germans, but also Scandinavians and people from Eastern Europe, emigrated to the Americas via these two cities between 1830 and 1974. About five million left from ... Hamburg, about seven from Bremerhaven. They left because of political or religious persecution or to escape poverty. Of course, adventurers were also among them as were criminals who knew that emigrating to America would mean they could never be found.
In 2005 Europe's largest theme museum on emigration opened in Bremerhaven. It's called Deutsches Auswandererhaus (German Emigration Centre). It's located on the waterfront in an area called Havenwelten (Harbour World), the address is Columbusstr. 65, 27568 Bremerhaven. The museum maintains that 'Visitors can experience the emigration process through interactive exhibits'. I'd say they can get an slight inkling on what it may have been like. No museum can convey the real thing. (No visitor to the Imperial War Museum in London knows what war is like after a visit). But a well made museum using modern media and technology can certainly stimulate the imagination in a way an old, dusty collection of untouchable exhibits can't.
After paying the entrance fee one gets a boarding card in lieu of a ticket. The envelope has the name of a real life emigrant on it, the electronic ticket inside can be used to activate information throughout the museum. 'My' emigrant was Hannah Levinsky-Koevary who left for New York with her parents in 1949 when she was only ten months old. Later I googled her and found out that she's made herself a name as an author of publications on Jewish subjects and a film script. I was surprised that I, an elderly lady, had got an infant. I asked a boy of about ten years who he was so-to-speak and he told me that he was a 27-year-old man. So the ticket person looked at the gender, but why didn't he find an appropriate age? Before I left the museum I asked how many different boarding pass personalities there were in total and learnt that there were only 16. Aha, that explains it. The museum was full of visitors meaning there were lots of clones walking around.
The museum has an entrance and an exit, visitors must follow a given route, it's not possible to pop in and out at random. One starts in a bleak waiting room for emigrants which sets the atmosphere. The walls are full of graffiti advising people to keep an eye on their belongings and warning them against pick pockets and con men. The door is closed and one hears a short introduction of about three minutes into the history of emigration through a loudspeaker. Then another door opens and, after moving up some stairs, one finds oneself on a wharf in front of a ship with water splashing against the quay. A group of life size dummies dressed as people were in 1888 with a lot of suitcases and chests around them are saying farewell to each other. The scene looks lively and one wants to talk to the people and ask them about their reasons for leaving their home country and their wishes for the future.
Next comes a long room looking a bit like an old pharmacy with walls full of narrow drawers. It's called the Gallery of seven million destinies. The drawers can be pulled out, each contains a short biography of an emigrant. Here the visitors can find 'their' emigrant and learn more about them. They can also lift receivers and listen to spoken biographies. Here I have to voice a complaint. The people in charge obviously didn't foresee how successful the museum would be (in 2007 it received the European Museum of the Year Award), there are too few receivers for too many visitors. I didn't want to queue in order to be able to hear something, so I only read the biographies. Even though not all seven million emigrants are listed here, of course, it's easy to forget time and lose oneself in the stories. The whole museum is bilingual. Everything can be heard and read in German and English.
A gangway leads up to the ship (disabled visitors can use a lift) which offers insights into the passage across the Atlantic on three different types of ships, namely on the tween deck of a sailing vessel, in third class accommodation on a steamship and on a more modern ocean liner . The conditions on the sailing vessel are the most striking. In 1850 the transatlantic passage could last up to three months. (from a leaflet of the museum) "Up to 250 passengers were crowded into cramped, filthy quarters where they ate and slept in dark bunks. The stench was awful, toilets were non-existent and the poor food soon put passengers off. Sanitary conditions worsened with each passing day. On average two to three percent of the passengers died on board the sailing ships. The death toll on English and Irish ships was considerably higher, which is why they were also referred to as 'sailing coffins'."
The realistic reconstruction of a bunk on a sailing vessel made me think that we can only get a slight inkling of what things were like. We get something for the eyes and for the ears - a 'man' sprawled on the bunk snoring loudly - but we get nothing for the nose. And even if it were possible to create artificially the stench which lingered on the ships, we'd only inhale it in passing, we wouldn't have to live in it for three months.
In a small room off the bunk a lidless toilet bowl invites the visitors to sit down. The moment one does so, a text appears on the opposite wall explaining the development of the sanitary facilities on ships. By and by things changed for the better, of course. How rich emigrants lived on the ships which offered luxurious cabins in later years isn't shown in detail, we can see it in photographs.
At last we reach Ellis Island where from 1892 and 1924 16.5 million immigrants were 'checked' in two to five minutes whether they were fit to get permission to enter the USA or not. The visitors can answer the questionnaire given to the immigrants in 1907 and find out about their chances. The reconstructed rooms are unfriendly and sterile, not welcoming at all. One question struck me as extremely odd: "Which colour are your eyes?" What has this got to do with anything? I peered over the shoulder of a woman who completed the questionnaire. She decided that she wanted to go to Canada and obviously answered all questions correctly because she was allowed the transitory passage through the USA.
The room dedicated to the descendants of the immigrants lets the visitors find out if there are people with their surnames living in the USA today. They can also check the passenger lists of ships on a computer and find out if a potential relative left Germany in a certain year. I don't know how many telephone directories there are, the shelves along the walls are full of them. I grabbed one, I think it was from Milwaukee, opened it and found my surname at once! Yet, there's a problem. My surname is written with an umlaut which doesn't exist in the English language. Someone with my surname would have been made an umlaut less US citizen at once. The person I found can be a descendant of this operation or belong to the tribe which has no umlaut even in its German name.
At the end of the tour we enter an elegant cinema in the style of the 1920s where two films are shown in alteration all day long. One is called Welcome Home (8 minutes) dealing with the further life of emigrants in the USA, the other (14 minutes) is about Germans and their descendants in Buenos Aires.
In case you're interested in the virtual tour through the museum, here is the link:
I've never been in a museum which gives precise times for the visit of its exhibits. The German Emigration Centre tells you that
the minimum length of stay is 90 minutes,
the average length of stay is 150 minutes,
and that the recommended length of stay is 120 minutes.
I couldn't find out what they feared would happen to visitors overstaying the recommended time. I stayed for 120 minutes and was then ripe for a meal in the restaurant beside the entrance with the name 'Speisesaal (Dining Hall) Steak&Fish'. It isn't cheap but very nice and the food is good. In good weather guests can also sit outside and enjoy the view of the Old Harbour. The museum shop offers mainly books on emigration topics and some of the usual knickknack.
I can wholeheartedly recommend this museum to anybody interested in the topic. If you wait for some time, you'll find an even bigger museum because now an annexe is being built dealing with 'Immigration to Germany'.
As entrance prices and opening hours can change, I'm giving you the link for the museum so that you can inform yourselves: http://www.dah-bremerhaven.de/english/english.html
Elvis Presley disembarked in Bremerhaven from an army troop ship in 1958, but this is a different story.
Read the complete review
Europe Museum International
Lobkowitzplatz 2, 1010 Vienna. Opening times: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm.
Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, A - 1037 Vienna.Tel ++43 / Museum International /1 79 55 7 - 0
Fax ++43/1 79 84 337
Museum International / Castle and museum in eastern Slovenia
Stubenring 5, A-1010 Vienna tel: (+43-1) 711 36-0,
fax (+43-1) 713 10 26 e-mail: office@MAK.at
recorded information (+43-1) 712 80 00
Maria-Theresien-Platz A-1010 Vienna Tel: (+ 43 1) 525 24-401,
Fax: (+ 43 1) 523 27 70
Museum International / Untere Weissgerberstrasse 13 A-1030 Vienna, Tel: 0043-1-712 04 95 Fax: 0043-1-712 04 96
karlsplatz Treitlstraße 2, A-1040 Vienna Tel.: +43-1-521 89 14,
Fax: +43-1-521 89 20
Museum International / Große Sperlgasse 24, A-1020 Vienna, Tel.: +43-1-214 46 78
Hetzendorfer Strasse 79, 1120 Vienna
Open daily except Mondays 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Museum International / Arsenalstraße 1, A-1030 Wien. Tel. +43 1 799 69 00. Fax +43 1 799 69 01.
|Europe Museum International Recommendations 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... back next|
|dooyoo Results 41 - 50 of 1026|