My Favorite Museum Guidebooks

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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

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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

Thursday Reading Links #32

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Well, it may be fall but it feels like winter in my neck of the woods. Stay warm and cozy, wherever you may be. 

Libraries to boycott publisher’s e-book policy

My recent quarterly reading wrap-up can be found here and here.

This is so dear. Fake chimneys for birds that need vertical hollows to rest.

Marie Antoinette’s Favorite Things You Can Still Buy Today.

Did you know that Danielle Steel has a blog? And she updates regularly.

Cute To Go Tea Mug

In praise of having a “boring” wardrobe. (This is from The Telegraph and there may be a log-in required if you exceeded your free articles per month.)

The best pore-cleansing toners and the best new face washes

On this day in 1916, Jeannette Rankin from Montana became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was one of the few suffragists elected to Congress, and the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II. 

It never ceases to amaze me that we have such incredible art right here in my city of Washington, D.C., such as this historic painting of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David. The National Gallery of Art published a wonderful publication about French paintings of the 19th century and can be read here for free. 

November babies, I guess life is more interesting as a Scorpio

xoxo, Jane

Image via Pexels.com

 

Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

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One of my favorite paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is Young Girl Reading (or The Reader) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 – 1806). I love it so much that I have a replica in my study.

Why do I love it? I’m drawn to it because as a reader I find peace in the young woman. She is leaning against a plush pillow while reading a captivating story. It makes me happy whenever I glance at it.

The muted colors are soothing and beautiful. I never knew yellow, mauve and lavender could go so well together.

I wanted to know the story behind the painting (if there was one) and paid a visit to NGA’s website. There isn’t a mystery surrounding this painting. It’s simply described as “a representation of a demure model in a lemon-yellow dress seated at a window ledge.” But I finally learned the artist’s name, Jean-Honoré Fragonard. (It’s awful to admit, but all these years I only cared about the girl in the painting and never bothered to learn the artist’s name.)

The first thing that came to mind when I learned the name was the perfumer Fragonard, based in Grasse, France. Fragonard (the artist) was from Grasse and when Fragonard (the company) established itself in 1926, they decided to name the company after their most famous resident, “as a tribute to both the town of Grasse and to the refinement of 18th-century arts.”

And there you have it. A little story about a beautiful painting that took me down a rabbit hole.

Do you have a favorite painting? Or one that you are drawn to for one reason or another?

xoxo, Jane