My Favorite Museum Guidebooks

IMG_1858.jpeg

Museums worldwide are doing a fabulous job of keeping us entertained, informed and connected through their online programs and exhibits. It’s a wonderful diversion during these troubling times, that’s for sure.

Am I the only one who loves to purchase museum guidebooks after a visit? I don’t do it for every museum, just for those very special museums.

Here are three of my favorite museum guidebooks. Be sure to share your favorite museum guidebooks in the comments.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I could live inside the Met. Since that’s not possible, their website has countless exhibits, paintings and articles to enjoy, such as this fun online exhibit about their new British Galleries. The Met is amazing for many reasons. One reason is that it represents 5000 years of art. Blows my mind.

The guidebook I bought is like holding the museum in my hands. It’s filled with paintings, decorative arts, photographs and articles to explain each object. Plus it’s a beautiful book.

I bought my book a number of years ago with an introduction by a previous Met director, but a quick glance online shows me that the guidebooks have been updated with a new introduction by the Met’s new director. In case you care about such things, the current director is Max Hollein. He has been the director since 2018 and hails from Austria. I digress, if you could buy only one museum guidebook, it should be this one.

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is pretty special. It was created because of a major donation from Andrew W. Mellon. He was Secretary of the Treasury under four US presidents and firmly believed that the United States should have a national museum devoted to art, just like the European capitals. Mellon purchased 21 spectacular masterpieces from the Hermitage Museum in Russia and in 1937 donated them to the Federal Government with the aim of opening this museum. History aside, this museum has one of my favorite paintings by Da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci. I look forward to visiting her again when Covid-19 is far, far behind us. It appears that my guidebook isn’t for sale anymore (it’s a very old copy), but this is their newer version.

Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum needs no introduction from me. It has pieces dating back to 8000 BC and I cannot comprehend that, it’s so incredible. In five visits, I have yet to see everything.

I’m sure there are a gazillion different guidebooks for the Louvre Museum, but I own a thin copy bought many years ago during my first trip to France. It holds a special place in my heart because I love Paris and the Louvre Museum so much. For a smallish book, it’s quite comprehensive and satisfies my desire to read a little bit about everything. I don’t think my book is for sale anymore, but I believe this is a similar version with an updated cover.

I hope you enjoyed a tour of my three favorite museum guidebooks. Have a great weekend (whatever a weekend is anymore)!

xoxo, Jane

Virtual Museum Tours

Springishere.jpeg
Spring is nigh.

There is so much anxiety right now (me!). The unknown can be unsettling, to say the least. I would normally wander around a museum to ease worries or anxiety,  but since I (most of us) can’t do that, I thought I’d share my three favorite museums with you. You can enjoy these virtual tours from the comfort of your home and with a nice cup of tea.

Hillwood Mansion and Museum

Hillwood Mansion and Museum is a delight. It was the home of Marjorie Post (of Post Cereal). The mansion is filled with decorative arts (such as Faberge, jewels and her fashionable wardrobe), paintings and multiple gardens to dream about. The current exhibition, Natural Beauties: Exquisite Works of Minerals and Gems, ends in June. I’m especially excited about the upcoming exhibition in June, Roaring Twenties: The Life and Style of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is a gem of a museum. One of the current exhibits is on Degas. Also, the museum has in its collection a Da Vinci painting. If you follow them on Instagram, their stories will take you on tours of each floor. It’s really sweet how much effort the staff is putting into this.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert Museum is currently open, but those not near London can at least enjoy the collection from the comfort of home. To get you started, they have a collection of gorgeous wallpaper (I love wallpaper), illuminated manuscripts and embroidery.

I hope you visit these museums online. If you do, let me know what you think. If you’d like, feel free to share some of your favorite museums.

xoxo, Jane

The Great Staircase at Kensington Palace

It was wonderful to visit Kensington Palace and to see the Victoria Revealed exhibit. Walking through the palace left me in awe of the history and the previous residents who wandered these halls. There was also a lovely tea room to enjoy. My only quibble about Kensington Palace is that the entrance fee is much too high for what little we see of the palace. That said, I savored every moment at the palace, especially this staircase.

The Great Staircase at Kensington Palace. The staircase was painted by William Kent and completed in 1724. The wrought iron balustrade is by Jean Tijou.

I wish I had thought to take a better photograph of the staircase, but below is a snippet of what the staircase looks like today (spoiler alert: it looks almost identical).

Kensington Palace.

Have you been to Kensington Palace? If yes, what did you enjoy the most?

xoxo, Jane

Trinket Tuesday: Pendant Eggs

The Hillwood Mansion and Museum has in its collection these lovely pendant eggs necklace and earrings.

Egg Necklace

The necklace has thirty-two pendant eggs and was made in St. Petersburg circa 1900.  The chain is made of gold and the eggs are of various materials, such as enamel, onyx, diamonds, rubies, malachite, carnelian and amethysts.

Egg Earrings

The earrings were made in Russia between 1914 and 1917. They are made of gold, silver enamel and sapphire. So lovely!

Trinket Tuesday is where I share some of the lovely things I discover during my travels, research or around town. All pictures are my own (unless I state otherwise). I hope you enjoy!

 

Arts and Culture 2017

Louvre and travel

Last year I really wanted to make arts and culture a priority in my schedule. So I made a goal of doing something at least once a month and I kept a list of what I did. (I love list-making.) I know we’re well into 2018, but I just came across my list while organizing and the memories made me smile.

Here’s my list:

January: January was cold, dark and dreary, but I entertained myself by watching almost all of Rick Steves’ travel documentaries and day-dreaming of warmer weather.

February: My husband and I jetted off to Paris for a week so we took advantage of everything the City of Light had to offer.

March: Hillwood Mansion and Museum – Washington, D.C.

April: U. S. Army War College Library and Archives – Carlisle, PA

May: The Walters Art Museum – Baltimore, MD

June: Maryland Lavender Festival

July: National Museum of American History – Washington, D.C.

August: I watched several operas on YouTube

September: Visited Eastern Market – Washington, D.C.

October: National Gallery of Art and Hillwood Mansion and Museum – Washington, D.C.

November: November was busy and super fun! I went to the Library of Congress, Trabant Parade at the Spy Museum and visited various museums in London, UK. I also saw the The Mousetrap in London.

December: I explored the sights and sites of Israel and then paid another visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

2017ArtsList

All in all, it was a productive and fulfilling year. I was really lucky that I visited Paris, London and the Holy Land within one year.

Do you keep lists too?

xoxo Jane

Trinket Tuesday: A Medieval Ceiling

IMG_1940.jpg

The ceiling at the tenement house museum in Edinburgh was gorgeous.

I love the vivid colors and the fruit motifs. This ceiling is the original and was discovered underneath other layers in recent years. It’s incredible to me that the color pigments lasted through the centuries.

If you could paint anything on your ceiling, what would it be?

Trinket Tuesday is where I share some of the lovely things I discover during my travels, research or around town. All pictures are my own (unless I state otherwise). I hope you enjoy!

 

Trinket Tuesday: Bapst Emerald and Diamond Tiara

P1050659

I love jewelry and the history of jewelry so I thought I’d briefly chat with you about it.

When visiting museums I always make a beeline for the decorative arts section, leaving my poor husband in the dust. It’s so wonderful to see in person the royal jewelry I read about, such as this magnificent emerald tiara at the Louvre.

It was made in 1820 for the Duchesse d’Angoulême (eldest daughter of Marie Antoinette) by Evrard and Frederick Bapst.  The tiara is made of gold and set with 1031 diamonds and 40 emeralds.  Seeing the emeralds up close was incredible. The emerald stone is one of my favorite gems.

P1050656

The tiara became the favorite tiara of Empress Eugénie, consort of Napoleon III.  The French then sold it in 1887. After a very long absence, the tiara returned home to France where it now rests at the Louvre Museum.

xoxo, Jane