by Eva Holland | 09.14.10 | 3:57 PM ET
The Vegas classic is closing its doors after more than 30 years—apparently, due to shrinking revenue, from both the museum itself and the Liberace music royalties that help support it. Over at Flyover America, Sophia Dembling laments:
What is the world coming to?
I’ve been to the Liberace Museum more times than I should probably admit. Three? Four? I’m not sure, but I’ve been dazzled every time. What’s more, even though I lived through the Liberace era, I didn’t know until I visited the museum how really huge Liberace was—he sold out the Hollywood Bowl, for Pete’s sake! (Or George’s sake. And if you don’t know what I mean, then you don’t know Liberace.)
The Liberace Foundation is hoping to reopen the museum someday. In the meantime, some traveling exhibits are in the works.
by Erin Byrne | 08.11.10 | 10:50 AM ET
Erin Byrne never let her mask slip, until a headless, armless Greek statue taught her a lesson she couldn't ignore
by Eva Holland | 07.19.10 | 5:42 PM ET
World Hum contributor Julia Ross ponders the connections between museums and their cities. On her favorites, she writes:
They’re an intrinsic part of travel for me, and the ones I love most distill the mood or aesthetic of a city in a way I can’t grasp walking the streets. It’s about more than art. It can be in the light, the design, or how the viewing public behaves. Something about the culture is captured.
by Michael Yessis | 06.25.10 | 2:02 PM ET
But Amsterdam is now a really interesting case, because it’s kind of a reverse Bilbao. They’ve closed two of Amsterdam’s major museums for eight years—the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum—both to be enlarged and “prepared for the twenty-first century.” The Van Gogh Museum has remained open, and recently the Hermitage opened a very successful satellite, but the effects of those two closures on the city are devastating. It’s lost its mission and its culture, and the absence really made the entire city suffer. The whole artists’ “scene” withered, because there were no major outlets you could hope to show in, nor outlets for systematic inspiration or interaction with significant art. In fact, it’s a very serious political issue: Simply the closure of two museums has diminished the status of the city internationally in a way that has many people dismayed and pessimistic about whether it might ever recover. So in some cases, you wonder whether “Bilbao” might actually be a necessity. It’s certainly legitimate for cities that aren’t “major” and have no “major” histories to try to use architecture to enhance their reputation, but when it’s being applied to the self-image of major cities like Rome and Moscow, it becomes counterproductive. It’s as if these cities are losing their confidence and self-respect.
by Eva Holland | 04.13.10 | 11:59 AM ET
Here’s an odd one: Gawker has an exclusive interview with Virginia and Fred Garbutt, the mother-son duo who recently purchased the entire contents of the International Banana Museum on eBay after collector-curator Ken Bannister was forced to sell. The new incarnation of the museum will reopen in North Shore, California, in January 2011.
by Robert Reid | 03.23.10 | 4:17 PM ET
Robert Reid visits a new museum in New York City and asks, "What took so long?"
by Eva Holland | 03.09.10 | 1:58 PM ET
Boing Boing’s Mark Frauenfelder is cruising Southern California in a Buick, making an eclectic series of roadside stops. His latest? The very quirky Museum of Jurassic Technology.
by Eva Holland | 02.05.10 | 12:21 PM ET
This illustrated guide to China’s many lesser-known museums is due out in April. The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos has a thoughtful Q&A with co-author Miriam Clifford, on her favorite spots and the way China presents itself, to visitors and to its own citizens.
by Eva Holland | 02.04.10 | 11:39 AM ET
by Eva Holland | 01.20.10 | 4:28 PM ET
by Eva Holland | 12.15.09 | 4:35 PM ET
The Globe and Mail has a thoughtful, in-depth look at the process of creating Canada’s still-in-progress Human Rights Museum—a museum, as James Bradshaw, writes, “whose mandate is to grapple almost entirely with the world’s touchiest subjects.” He goes on:
“It is a museum of ideas. And ideas, of course, are never static,” says Yude Henteleff, the chair of the museum’s Content Advisory Committee.
If human rights are a human construction, a set of collective ideas, then the public view of them will be forever shifting, amorphous and vulnerable to attack. And a museum that tries to document that process on its walls promises to have its combustible moments.
by Eva Holland | 12.15.09 | 2:12 PM ET
Big news in the antiquities world: The French government has returned five disputed frescoes to the Egyptian government. The painted stone fragments had been held by the Louvre for the past few years, and the Egyptians—claiming that the Louvre’s curators bought them knowing they were stolen goods—had cut off all formal ties and cooperation on archaeological digs with the museum as a result. I suspect that the British Museum, among others, hopes this move won’t become a precedent-setter.
by Christopher Seneca | 12.04.09 | 10:28 AM ET
Christopher Seneca was losing faith in the world. Then he went to see Michelangelo's masterpiece.
by Eva Holland | 11.13.09 | 11:23 AM ET
Blues travelers, get ready to mark another must-see on your maps of Mississippi. The most mysterious of the famous Delta bluesmen could be getting a pilgrimage spot of his very own, as Copiah County looks to restore his birthplace and childhood home and open it to visitors. The home was identified a few years back, but there was no money for the restoration—now, with a movie about Johnson in the works, local officials see a fundraising opportunity. Here’s hoping they can get it done.
by M.B. Roberts | 10.29.09 | 3:56 PM ET
M.B. Roberts asks the founder of Pirate Soul Museum in Key West, Florida, about the enduring appeal of pirates
by Rick Steves | 10.20.09 | 11:37 AM ET
Exploring Europe, exploring travel as a political act
by Michael Yessis | 10.08.09 | 10:03 AM ET
At the Onion’s version of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the paintings are fair game for touching. From its story about how the struggling museum now allows patrons get “up close and personal”:
“You can’t grasp the brilliance of a great painting just by looking at it,” said Phil Brehm, 32, who acknowledged that he hadn’t set foot inside a museum since a mandatory field trip in high school. “To truly appreciate fine art, you need to be able to run your fingers over its surface and explore its range of textures.”
“Or just rub your face all over it, like I do,” Brehm added.
The art for this one is fantastic.
by Eva Holland | 08.18.09 | 1:32 PM ET
The Berlin staple may not have set Alison Stein Wellner’s head on fire when she went looking for the world’s hottest foods, but it remains one of Germany’s favorite sausage variations. And now, currywurst—diced sausage doused in ketchup and curry powder—is getting a museum of its very own.
Some of the weirder details, from Reuters: “An array of interactive exhibits guide visitors along a ‘sauce trail’ through the history and variety of the beloved dish ... A spice chamber scents the air with curry powder as guests relax on the giant ‘sauce sofa’, shaped like a squirt of ketchup while an eco-alley assesses the environmental impact of fast food.”
by Eva Holland | 08.17.09 | 2:45 PM ET
In the latest post at Flyover America, Jenna Schnuer, Sophia Dembling and Matt Villano (World Hum contributors, all) pick their favorites. I’ll be bookmarking the post—I love a good museum gift shop, whether in America or beyond. One of the best I’ve encountered is at Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. Chocolates wrapped in portraits of Henry VIII and his assortment of wives? Yes, please.
by Eva Holland | 08.14.09 | 11:01 AM ET
In a recent post over at BootsnAll, Roger Wade explains why he believes museums are overrated. “If you think about it, with only a few exceptions, museums are all history museums one way or another,” he writes.
The most famous ones display stationary art that only the elite classes could ever hope to own or even see. Sure, some of them tell the stories of what life was really like at the time, but many of them are idealized versions or nothing like reality at all ... History certainly has its place, but when you visit Madrid today might it not be more interesting to see some intricacies of modern big city Spanish life than what a lone artist a few hundred years ago was thinking?
Later, after offering some museum alternatives—grocery stores and the like—he adds: “You’ll learn far more about their real culture of today in a place like this than you would at the famous museum…”
Now, I’m a big fan of foreign supermarkets. But I’m also a bona fide history geek, and as such I’m worried about what seems to be an increasingly popular theme in travel advice these days: the idea that museums, and history more generally, are somehow distinct or cut off from a destination’s true culture. Does anyone really think that a visit to the Terror House won’t improve their understanding of post-Soviet Budapest? Or that the Transit Museum doesn’t shed some light on the way New Yorkers live? And I know, I know, we’ve all had Madonna-and-Child art gallery overload at some point—but trying to understand the Catholic world without taking a look at its most powerful iconography seems crazy to me.
Go ahead, call me a geek, but I’ll balance out a good people-watching session with some museum time any day. And I just don’t see how the one is more “real” than the other.
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