Sunday, January 8, 2012

Museum Weekend

My daughter was asked to help with a funeral on Saturday afternoon, and so asked me if I would take care of my younger granddaughter while she did that. We walked down to the Science Museum. It was mobbed. I guess I usually go there on a weekday and didn't realize how crowded it would be on a Saturday afternoon. I'm a member there, and so it was just a case of getting our admission bracelets.

In the hallway outside the museum my granddaughter noticed a poster advertising a pirate exhibit coming up and called the pirate a monster. Then inside the museum she looked above and saw a pterodactyl skeleton. She called that a monster too. I told her it was a special kind of dinosaur, not a monster. Later in the museum she saw a skeleton of a cat, and proudly pointed out a "dinosaur" to me. She enjoyed jumping on the musical stairs. She liked the polar bear display -- a six foot bear didn't bother her one bit, but she was frightened of fur and animal skins on a table. Rubbing rocks was a good idea. Above she is enjoying working with puzzles. Then she asked to see the "duck book." In the book she found a frog and enjoyed making frog noises. Then she told me told frogs were green, and pointed to my sweater and told me it was frog green. She was right. Perhaps the best exhibit was a display of objects (now thoroughly cleaned) that had been found in the waste water treatment plant -- in other words, things that had gone down the toilet! Each is given a fun scientific name. My granddaughter said "pacifer," but the the label for this object is pacificus infantus!  I'm most amused by a set of dentures. Losing them must have spoiled someone's day.

Today I went to The Museum of Russian Art.
If you think this building doesn't look very Russian, you are right. It is a re-use of a church, built in the 1920s in a very Spanish style because that type of architecture was a particular favorite of the then pastor. When the church outgrew this space, it became a puzzle of what to do with the building. Turning it into this museum is a wonderful idea. The large spaces provide wonderful display areas.

I wanted in particular to see the exhibit related to Ukrainian artifacts.  Years ago in Los Angeles  I had seen a display of Scythian gold and wondered if this would be with this exhibit. Yes, it was. The photo below shows some of it.
This display begins with pottery from the Trypilian culture -- from about 7000 BC. This group of farmers and craftsmen and women -- because I bet women made some of this pottery-- made beautiful pots for their every day storage needs.

There is also a display from Cimmerian culture -- by this time bronze was known and so the objects are bronze. I was intrigued to learn that the Crimea area of the Ukraine takes its name from this culture.

As things go more modern -- only 400 BC to 400 AD, I found two little bulls' heads. They are very much like the bulls head motif seen in Pecs.

I'm enjoying what I find that is the same and what is different between the various Central European countries.

Two levels of the museum right now are devoted to the work of Oleg Vassiliev. He is considered to one of the most prominent members of the non-comformist art movement that came to fruition in the time between Stalin's death and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This group of artist broke from Soviet realism which demanded a display of ideology in art; the non-comformists tried to produce art that portrayed different ideas or messages. It is a real treat to have the Russian Museum in our community because we can see things such as this so easily -- and art that never before has been on display in other parts of the United States.

I particularly liked the above painting, titled A Misty Morning, Prokrovsk Boulevard. It made me think of walking on the Szetar in Pecs. Vassiliev is a very prolific and talented artist -- doing everything from these paintings to illustrations in children's books. I also enjoyed a series of engravings, too, called Moscow Metro. These are totally in black and white and show scenes one might see in a subway system. I don't think I would have enjoyed or understood these engravings like I did had I not ridden the Budapest Metro so many times. A great afternoon at the TMORA!

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