Church of the Holy Trinity (Loay, Bohol)

Church of the Holy Trinity

Upon arrival in Loay, our van entered the  church complex via the short bend from the road to Loboc. This old and charming church, built on top of a plateau overlooking the sea, near the mouth of the Loboc River, is also reached by short flight of stairs from the main highway.

The church after the October 15, 2013 earthquake (photo: Wikipedia)

Built with cut coral stone, it is cruciform in plan, with a low quadrangular pyramid atop the crossing, and was probably finished in 1822. The church was recently declared as a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark in 2003.

The restored portico facade

The church has two facades: an inner (1822), decorated with low relief (atop the inner doorway is inscribed the year 1822, indicating its presumed date of completion), and an outer three-level Neo-Classical portico-façade (apparently completed in the 20th century as its upper register is in reinforced concrete).

NHI Plaque.  It states that a certain Fr. Leon Inchausti was once assigned to this parish, that he was subsequently martyred during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and that he was canonized in 1999 and is now a saint

It has a semicircular arched main entrance (which formerly had a Latin inscription “Deus Trinus et Unus” above it, alluding to the parish’s dedication to the Holy Trinity) at the first level, rectangular windows on the second level and a low triangular pediment topped by allegorical figures of Faith, Hope and Charity. The sides of the church are reinforced by huge buttresses.

The ceiling murals obscured by a maze of scaffolding

During the October 15, 2013 earthquake, the church’s portico-facade fell down but, during our visit, it had already been restored. Inside, there were still a lot of scaffolding with repair work still ongoing.  The painted trompe o’eil ceiling is filled with murals of Biblical scenes finished by Ray Francia on June 15, 1927.

The colonnaded main altar has a Neo-Classic retablo with images of the Holy Trinity (with God the Father seated on the right, God the Son on the left, and God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove above them) topped by a baldaquin.

There’s also a massive pipe organ installed in 1841 and a pulpit topped by a torravoz with Neo-Gothic dome and fringed by a “lacework” of metal and wood.

Stairs leading to the choir loft

The separate, three-storey octagonal bell tower, topped by a domed roof, was built by Fr. Carlos Ubeda (1859 to 1865).  The stone and wood convent now houses the Holy Trinity Academy, founded in 1947.

The separate, 3-storey bell tower

Church of the Holy Trinity: Tel: (038) 538-9158 and (038) 501-1145. Feast of the Holy Trinity: Trinity Sunday (May).

How to Get There: Loay is located 22.1 kms. (a 30-min. drive) east of Tagbilaran City.

Bohol Tourism Office: Governor’s Mansion Compound, C.P.G. Ave. North, Tagbilaran City, 6300 Bohol.  Tel: +63 38 501-9186.  E-mail: inquire@boholtourismph.com.

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar (Sibonga, Cebu)

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar

Part 9 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

This southern Cebu town’s present stone and brick church was started by Fr. Juan Alonso (parish priest from 1868 to 1881) and finished by Fr. Enrique Magaz in 1881. Fr. Emiliano Diez was applying the finishing touches when the revolution broke out in 1898.

The simple and bare, Pseudo-Gothic facade

In 1907, the church was restored and blessed by Msgr. Jeremiah James Harty, Archbishop of Manila, American Bishop Thomas Hendrick and 17 other priests.

NHCP Plaque

On December 2, 2010, a cast-iron national historical marker was unveiled at the church’s facade by National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo along with Sibonga’s parish priest Fr. Leo Cabahug and the Sibonga Ecclesiastical Heritage Commission’s president Dr. Noel Ponce.

The convent

The solid and beautiful convent was built by Fr. Prospero Puerto (parish priest from 1833 to 1868) following the plans of Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon. The oldest bell, dedicated to Santa Filomena, was installed in 1863. The bell tower was destroyed during the typhoon of November 25, 1877.

The church’s beautiful interior

The altar

The church’s simple and bare, Pseudo-Gothic façade, divided into three sections by shallow pilasters, has a flame-like arched main entrance flanked by massive twin bell towers with pyramidal roofs and flame-like arched windows. The Gothic-style triangular pediment has a rose window sporting the Augustinian seal in wrought iron.

Left side retablo

Right side retablo

The one-nave interior, clearly influenced by Carcar City’s Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, has a wooden colonnade and a mesmerizing series of  ceiling murals at the nave.

Baptism

Confirmation

Holy Communion

 

Matrimony

Holy Orders

Extreme Unction

Penance

Painted in amber and brownish tones by famed Cebuano artist Raymundo Francia (popularly called the “Michaelangelo of Cebu”) in 1924, they feature the  Seven Sacraments (“Baptism,” “Confirmation,” “Extreme Unction,” “Penance,” “Matrimony,” “Holy Communion” and “Holy Orders”).

Christians Defending Their Faith

Christ Purging the Temple

At the entrance vestibule are the ceiling frescoes  “Christians Defending Their Faith” and “Christ Purging the Temple.” The “Creation of the World,” the mural above the altar, shows the Biblical scene of the seven days of creation (Genesis). The ceiling of the side aisles was expertly painted to create an optical illusion of a coffered ceiling woodwork. 

The Creation of the World

Optical illusion of coffered woodwork at ceiling

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar: National Highway, Poblacion, 6020 Sibonga. Tel: (032) 486-9390. Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar: October 12.

How To Get There: Sibonga is located 60.7 kms. south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria (Carcar City, Cebu)

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Part 7 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

Carcar City is noted for its striking examples of preserved colonial architecture, both from the Spanish and American eras. The most notable structure is the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Around 1622, the town’s first convent and church was burned when Muslims sacked the town.

The church’s Graeco-Tuscan facade

The present masonry church, probably the second or third church, was built on a hill for greater security. It was started by Fr. Antonio Manglano in 1860, continued by Fr. Gabriel Gonzalez in 1865 and completed (including the interior painting) by Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio in 1875. Its roof was blown away during the November 25, 1876, typhoon.

An array of statues of some of the 12 Apostles at the church patio

Statue of Judas Iscariot, now painted white

Its lovely and massive Graeco-Tuscan façade, with its strong Muslim influence, has a double recessed arched main entrance (similar to an iwan of a Middle Eastern mosque), a blind wheel rose window below the upper recessed arch (above it is a carved Augustinian symbol), spandrels with geometric flora and a Baroque pediment on a high entablature, which crowns the middle segment.

The church’s interior

The lower story is flanked by a one-story structure corresponding to the aisles flanking the 68-m. long, 22-m. wide and 12-m. high-main nave. Neo-Classical altars, a coffered ceiling and carved cherub heads located along the arcade separating the nave from the aisle embellish the church’s interior.

The church patio, surrounded by a low fence of coral stone and wrought iron, has statues of the 12 Apostles, all painted white.  The statue of Judas Iscariot, standing all alone on a pedestal in front of the convent, used to be painted black but is now in white.

The Neo-Clasical main altar

The twin Muslim-like bell towers have solid geometric pylons which act as buttresses, and have no openings except at the third storey where ogee arches are used for the bells. This level ends up in onion-shaped domes reminiscent of minarets. One of its bells bears the date 1810, suggesting that a church was already in place by the early 19th century.

The church pulpit

Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio also built the masonry and wood convent, established on May 23, 1559, under the advocacy of the Visitation of the Virgin. An independent structure separated from the church by a road, it measures 33 m. in front and 22 m. at the side.  The convent sank during the November 25, 1876, typhoon.

The choir loft

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria: Tel: (032) 257-3272. Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandra: November 25.

How to Get There: Carcar City is located 42 kms. (a 1-hour drive) south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi (Naga City, Cebu)

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi

Part 4 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The town’s coral and limestone church was built by Fr. Simon Aguirre in 1839 following plans prepared by Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon.  Its bell tower was destroyed by the November 25, 1876 typhoon, repaired, destroyed again in 1942 and rebuilt in 1974 by Msgr. Cesar Alcoseba. On October 3, 2007, the church was upgraded as an archdiocesan shrine.

The unusual Baroque facade that suggests Mexican art

The convent was started in 1864 by Fr. Enrique Magaz, continued in 1882 by Fr. Gregorio Ros and finished in 1887 by Fr. Roman Gonzalez.  It was destroyed in 1942 and rebuilt in 1974 by Msgr. Cesar Alcoseba. During World War II, the original bell tower was destroyed and portions of the church were damaged. A new separate bell tower was built in 1979.

The side of the church

The church has one main nave, a transept and measures 75 m. long, 15.4 m. wide and 10.6 m. wide.  Angels and gargoyles guard its doors. It’s simple interior, relatively unchanged since it was built over a century ago, features a dropped ceiling bearing geometric patterns and a gilded retablo and cornices adorning the Corinthian pillars and side walls.  A huge statue of St. Francis of Assisi adorns the patio adjacent to the church.

The church interior

The unusual Baroque-style façade, suggestive of Mexican art that is skillfully integrated into the local Filipino religious architecture, has no distinct architectural style.  It has twin minaret-shaped buttresses with projecting domes and is divided into lower and upper rectangular panels.

The main and two side retablos

The bare lower panel has a triangular arched recessed main entrance with molded door jambs flanked by six square columns while the overly-decorated upper panel has a miniature retablo (the cross with outgoing rays represent the expansion of the Christian faith) flanked by two sets of tiny columns and a frieze heavily-decorated with ornamental Roman-like acanthus leaf patterns and self-repeating designs divided into several rows.

Plaque

The pediment has a centrally located niche flanked by two sets of tiny columns with the Biblical saying Predicate Evangelicum omni creaturae.  It is also decorated with winged cherubs, rosettes, dancette or zigzag molding (below the raking cornice) and other embellishments. The symbols of the Cross, the Lamb of Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Monstrance are supported by ornamented columns resting on atlantes.

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi: Cebu South Rd. Tel: (032) 489-9799  and (032) 272-2123. Feast of St. Francis of Assisi: October 10.

How To Get There: Naga is located 21.7 kms. south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

National World War II Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

National World War II Memorial

The National World War II Memorial, an American memorial of national significance, sits on a 30,000 m2  (7.4-acre) piece of land (two-thirds of which is landscaping and water) on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

The granite pillars

The memorial is dedicated to those who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. It consists of 56 5.2 m. (17 ft.) tall granite pillars,  arranged in a semicircle, and a pair of small 13 m. (43-ft.) high memorial triumphal arches (crafted by Rock of Ages Corporation, the northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic,” the southern one, “Pacific“), on opposite sides, surrounding a plaza and fountain.

The author with the Atlantic Arch in the background

Its design was based on Friedrich St. Florian‘s initial design, selected in 1997 during a nationwide design competition that drew 400 submissions from architects from around the country but altered during the review and approval process. On September 2001, ground was broken and the construction was managed by the General Services Administration.

The Pacific Arch

Opened on April 29, 2004, it was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004. On November 1, 2004, the memorial became a national park  when authority over it was transferred to the National Park Service (under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group). As of 2009, more than 4.4 million people visit the memorial each year. In 2012, the memorial’s fountain was renovated.

The memorial’s fountain

Each of the 56 pillars, all consisting of oak (symbolizing military and industrial strength) laurel wreaths and wheat (symbolizing agricultural and breadbasket during the U.S. part in the war) laurel wreath. is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 U.S. states (as of 1945), as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska TerritoryTerritory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the PhilippinesPuerto RicoGuamAmerican Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The pillar of the Commonwealth of the Philippines

The plaza is 102.97 m. (337 ft., 10 in.) long and 73.2 m. (240 ft., 2 in.) wide and is sunk 1.8 m. (6 ft.) below grade.  It contains a pool that is 75.2 × 45 m. (246 ft., 9 in. by 147 ft., 8 in.). The memorial also includes two, inconspicuously located “Kilroy was here” engravings which acknowledges the significance of the symbol to American soldiers during World War II and how it represented their presence and protection wherever it was inscribed.

Excerpt from a speech by Pres. Harry S. Truman

Excerpt from Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech

The lettering for the memorial was designed by the John Stevens Shop and most of the inscriptions were hand-carved in situ. Laran Bronze, in Chester, Pennsylvania, cast all the bronzes over the course of two and a half years.

Some of the inscriptions

The Battle of Midway

The baldacchinos of the Pacific and Atlantic Arches each have laurel wreaths suspended in the air, with 4 bronze eagles carrying it, all created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey. The stainless-steel armature that holds up the eagles and wreaths was designed at Laran, in part by sculptor James Peniston, and fabricated by Apex Piping of Newport, Delaware. The chandelier sculpture symbolizes the victory of the War with the Nation’s bird carrying a Grecian symbol of victory but with an American adaptation of oak laurel wreaths to symbolize strength.

Seal using the World War II Victory Medal design

On approaching the semicircle from the east, I walked along one of two walls (right side wall and left side wall) with 24 bronze bas-relief panels (also created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey) that depict wartime scenes of combat and the home front. The scenes, as I approached on the left (toward the Pacific Arch), begin with soon-to-be servicemen getting their physical exams, taking the oath, being issued military gear, and progresses through several iconic scenes, including combat and burying the dead, ending in a homecoming scene.

The memorial flagpole

There is a similar progression on the right-side wall (toward the Atlantic arch) but the scenes are generally more typical of the European theatre with some scenes taking place in England, depicting the preparations for air and sea assaults. The last scene is of a handshake between the American and Russian armies when the western and eastern fronts met in Germany.

The Price of Freedom

The Freedom Wall, on the west side of the memorial, has a view of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial behind it. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom”

Jandy at the fountain area

National World War II Memorial: National MallWashington, D.C.

The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Walters Art Museum

This public art museum, founded and opened in 1934, holds collections substantially amassed by major American art and sculpture collector William Thompson Walters, (1819–1894) and his son Henry Walters (1848–1931), who refined the collection and made arrangements for the construction of a later landmark building to rehouse it. The entire collection of then more than 22,000 works was bequeathed by Henry Walters upon his death in 1931.

The museum entrance

The collection includes  masterworks of ancient EgyptGreek sculpture, Roman sarcophagi, medieval ivories, illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance bronzes, Old Master European and 19th-century paintings, Chinese ceramics and bronzes, Art Deco jewelry, and ancient Near East, Mesopotamian, or ancient Middle East items.

The palazzo-style collonade

The elaborate stone palazzo-styled structure, Henry Walters’ original gallery, was designed by architect William Adams Delano and erected between 1904 and 1909. Its exterior was inspired by the Renaissance-revival-style Hôtel Pourtalès in Paris while  its interior was modeled after the 17th-century “Collegio dei Gesuiti” (now the Palazzo dell’Università, built by the Balbi family for the Jesuits in Genoa). It houses the arts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, French decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries, manuscripts and rare books.

The author at the Sculpture Court

The Centre Street Annex Building, at the rear of the original main gallery, was designed by the Boston firm of Shepley, Bullfinch, Richardson, and Abbott, in the “Brutalist” poured-concrete style, an extremely modernistic style prevalent in the 1960s. This annex building, opened in 1974, has several horizontal lines paralleled with features in the 1909 structure.

Medieval World lobby. At left is the “Virgin and Child” (Burgundian, ca. 1425) while at center is an altarpiece with the Passion of Christ

From 1998 to 2001, it was substantially altered by Kallmann McKinnell and Wood, Architects.  A soaring, four-storey glass atrium was provided, with a suspended staircase at the juncture between the older and newer buildings, and a new entrance lobby along Centre Street. Today, the conjoined buildings has five floors with 39 intimate galleries for smaller works. The collection has also grown, by later gifts and purchases, to 35,000 works.

Ancient World Lobby

The new lobby, which provides easier ground-level handicapped access along with enhanced security provisions for both collections and visitors, also has a café, an enlarged museum, gift store and a reference library.

Portrait of Henry Walters (1938, Thomas Cromwell Corner, American)

The museum’s famed art conservation laboratory, one of the oldest in the country, is also found here. With its large display walls and irregular corridors and galleries, the Centre Street Annex Building houses the ancientByzantinemedievalEthiopian, and 19th-century European collections.

Adam and Eve (ca. 1515) on main staircase to Sculpture Court

Originally called “The Walters Art Gallery,” the museum changed its long-time name to “The Walters Art Museum” in 2000 to reflect its image as a large public institution and eliminate confusion among some of the increasing out-of-state visitors.

17th Century Dutch Cabinet Rooms

In 2001, after a dramatic 3-year physical renovation and replacement of internal utilities and infrastructure, “The Walters” (as it is often known in the city) reopened its original main building.

The Upper Stair Hall. At near left is the “Allegory of Knowledge of Things” while on the right is the Choir Gate (1700-1750)

Starting on October 1, 2006, as a result of substantial grants given by Baltimore City and the surrounding suburban Baltimore County arts agencies and authorities, the museum began having free admission year-round. In 2012, “The Walters” released nearly 20,000 of its own images of its collections (one of the largest and most comprehensive such releases made by any museum), on a Creative Commons license, and collaborated in their upload to the world-wide web and the internet on Wikimedia Commons.

The two monumental 3,000-pound statues of the Egyptian lion-headed fire goddess Sekhmet at the entrance to the Egyptian Art Exhibit

The Walters’ collection of ancient art, one of the largest assemblages in the United States, includes examples from EgyptNubiaGreeceRomeEtruria and the Near East.

Egyptian Art – Seated Statue of Nehy (ca. 1250-1230 BC, New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty)

The second floor houses The Ancient World (Ancient Treasury, Near Eastern Art, Egyptian Art, Greek Art, Etruscan Art, Roman Art), European Art (Entry Hall of Arms and Armor, Chamber of Wonders, 17th Century Dutch Cabinet Rooms, 18th and 19th Century Treasury) and the Sculpture Court.

Egyptian Art – Mummy and Painted Cartonnage of an Unknown Woman (850-750 BC)

The Walters’ collection of ancient art, one of the largest assemblages in the United States, includes examples from EgyptNubiaGreeceRomeEtruria and the Near East.

Egyptian Art – Mummy Mask of a High Official (ca. 2000-1980 BCE, Middle Kingdom)

The collection of ancient Egyptian and Nubian art, dating from prehistoric to Roman Egypt (5th millennium BC– 4th century AD ), include statuary (the most impressive pieces are two monumental 3,000-pound statues of the Egyptian lion-headed fire goddess Sekhmet); stelae; the intact Walters Mummy (still in its elaborate wrappings); reliefs; sarcophagi; funerary objects; impressive jewelry and objects from daily life as well as images of private individuals and kings.

Ancient Near Eastern Art

Art from the Near East includes alabaster reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II.

Greek Art Exhibit

The Walters’ outstanding collection of ancient Greek  art, illustrating the history and culture of Greece from the Cycladic to the Hellenistic period (ca. 3rd millennium–1st century BC), includes engraved gemstones; dazzling gold jewelry (including extraordinary Greek bracelets, encrusted with multicolored gemstones, from Olbia on the shores of the Black Sea); exceptional vases, and marble statues (including the Praxitelean Satyr)

Etruscan Art

The most treasured objects in the collection of ancient Roman art at the Walters includes a large assemblage of Roman portrait heads (including powerful depictions of the emperors Augustus and Marcus Aurelius); exquisite Etruscan bronzes, a Roman bronze banquet couch, and seven marble sarcophagi, among the finest in the world, with intricate marble carvings depicting mythological scenes, from the tombs of the prominent Licinian and Calpurnian families in Rome.

Roman Art

Ancient Treasury

The 18th and 19th century Treasury displays portrait miniatures, examples of goldsmiths’ works (especially snuffboxes and watches) along with some exceptional 19th- and early-20th-century works. Among them are examples of Art Nouveau-styled jewelry by René Lalique, jeweled objects by the House of Fabergé, including two Russian Imperial Easter eggs, and precious jewels by Tiffany and Co. of New York City.

18th and 19th Century Treasury

18th and 19th Century Treasury

Three galleries (Entry Hall of Arms and Armor, Chamber of Wonders and Collector’s Private Study), dedicated to European art of the 15th to 17th centuries, suggest a 1600s collection that might have been the pride of a sophisticated nobleman in the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium).

Entry Hall of Arms and Armor

The Entry Hall of Arms and Armor , reflecting traditions of chivalry and the noble values of family honor is, in part, based on the installation at the Habsburg palace Schloss Ambras just outside Innsbruck (Austria).

Chamber of Wonders

The Collector’s Private Study is where small, intricate objects were kept close at hand.  The more spacious Chamber of Art and Wonders (or Constkamer, as such a space was known in the Spanish Netherlands), is a faithful recreation of a cabinet of curiosity and has cabinets full of natural history specimens, as well as art objects from the museum’s collection.

Jandy exploring the hallway with displays of Renaissance Ceramics

The third floor houses The Medieval World Galleries (Byzantine, Russian and Ethiopian Icons, Early Byzantine Art, Migration and Early Medieval Art, Medieval World Lobby, Romanesque and Gothic Art, The Great Room, Upper Stair Hall, Islamic Art, Islamic Arms and Armor) and Renaissance & Baroque Galleries (13th-15th Century Italian Art, 15th Century Art of Northern Europe, 15th Century Italian Art, 16th Century Italian Art, 17th Century Art, 18th Century Art, Renaissance Ceramics)

Byzantine, Russian and Ethiopian Icons

The Walters’ collection contains one of the largest assemblages of art produced during the Middle Ages (extends from the 4th  to the end of the 14th century, or from the disintegration of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Renaissance in western Europe in all the major artistic media of the period).

The author (left) entering the “15th Century Art of Northern Europe”exhibit. At right is an altarpiece with the Passion of Christ (ca. 1492-1495, Late Medieval Renaissance).

The Walters’ Medieval collection, for which the museum is best known internationally, is considered one of the best collections of Medieval art in the United States.  Spanning the Medieval world from the eastern Mediterranean to Western Europe, the museum’s Medieval art collection features a wide range of remarkable objects including examples of metalwork, sculpture, stained glass, textiles, icons, and other paintings.

Romanesque and Gothic Art

The Walters’ collection is especially renowned for its particularly strong holdings of ivories, enamels, liturgical vessels, reliquaries and illuminated manuscripts.

Early Byzantine Art

The Walters’ Medieval collection features unique objects such as the Byzantine agate Rubens Vase that belonged to the painter Rubens (accession no. 42.562) and the earliest-surviving image of the Virgin of Tenderness, an ivory carving produced in Egypt in the 6th or 7th century (accession no. 71.297). Sculpted heads from the royal Abbey of St. Denis are rare surviving examples of portal sculptures that are directly connected with the origins of Gothic art in 12th-century France (accession nos. 27.21 and 27.22). An ivory casket covered with scenes of jousting knights is one of about a dozen such objects to survive in the world (accession no. 71.264).

Migration and Early Medieval Art

The Walters also displays Late Medieval devotional Italian paintings by painters such as Tommaso da ModenaPietro LorenzettiAndrea di Bartolo (Resurrection), Alberto SotioBartolomeo di Tommaso (Death of Saint Francis), Naddo CeccarelliMaster of Saint VerdianaNiccolo di Segna (Saint Lucy), OrcagnaOlivuccio di CiccarelloMaster of Panzano Triptych and Giovanni del Biondo.

The Rubens Vase (agate, gold, Byzantine Art. ca 400)

Henry Walters  took an early interest in Byzantine art, buying at a time when there were limited collectors in this field, and the museum also holds one of the leading collections of Byzantine Art in the United States.

Jewelry Box with Dancers and Faun (4th to 6th Century)

Sarcophagus Fragment with the Good Shepherd (early 4th century)

The Walters’ Byzantine art collection, supported by an important collection of Russian and Orthodox icons, includes a group of over two thousand decorative tile fragments, early Byzantine silver, post-Byzantine art, the Kaper Koraon Treasure  and illuminated manuscripts. The museum also houses the largest and finest collection of Ethiopian Orthodox Church art outside Ethiopia.

13th-15th Century Italian Art

15th Century Italian Art

The collection of Renaissance, Baroque and 18th-century European art, the breadth of which offers a comprehensive display of the arts during this artistically fertile period, features one of the most significant holdings of Italian paintings, many of which were acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection (a previously unprecedented purchase of the contents of an Italian villa) plus sculpture, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, jewelry, arms and armor, and locks and keys.

16th Century Italian Art

17th Century Art

The best-known works include Hugo van der Goes‘ Donor with Saint John the BaptistHeemskerck‘s Panorama with the Abduction of Helen Amidst the Wonders of the Ancient WorldGiambattista Pittoni‘s Sacrifice of Polyxena, the Madonna of the Candelabra (from the studio of Raphael), Veronese’s Portrait Of Countess Livia da Porto Thiene and her Daughter PorziaEl Greco‘s Saint Francis Receiving the StigmataBernini‘s “bozzetto” of the Risen Christ, Tiepolo‘s Scipio Africanus Freeing Massiva, and The Ideal City attributed to Fra Carnevale. The museum has one of ten surviving examples of the Sèvres pot-pourri vase in the shape of a ship from the 1750s and 1760s.

18th Century Art

The Walters’ collection presents an overview of 19th-century European art, particularly European art works by late-19th-century academic masters and Impressionists from France.  Because of his notorious Southern-leanings, William Walters, with his family, stayed in Paris during the Civil War.

The Cafe-Concert (1879, Edouard Manet)

Here, he soon developed a keen interest in contemporary European painting and he commissioned, either directly from the artists or purchased at auctions, such major works by the Barbizon masters (Jean-François Millet and Henri Rousseau); academic masters (Jean-Léon Gérôme and Lawrence Alma-Tadema) and modernists (MonetManet, Sisley and  the Italian Antonio Rotta).

Odalisque with Slave (1842, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres)

From the first half of the century comes major paintings by Ingres, Géricault, and Delacroix.  Highlights of the collection include Odalisque with Slave by Ingres (a second version); Claude Monet’s SpringtimeAlfred Sisley‘s panoramic view of the Seine Valley; and  The Café Concert, Édouard Manet’s realist masterpiece.

Fortune (1900, Sevres Porcelain Factory, Augustin Moreau-Vauthier)

The Dancer (1900, Sevres Porcelain Factory, Agathon Leonard)

The museum’s collection of Sèvres porcelain (Henry Walters was particularly interested in the courtly arts of 18th-century France) includes a number of pieces that were made for members of the Royal Bourbon Court at Versailles Palace outside of Paris.

Islamic Art

Islamic art in all artistic media, encompassing the entire realm of artistic production in those lands where, from the 7th century onward, the Muslim religion took hold (territory that, at its height, stretched from present-day Spain and North Africa westward to India), is represented at the Walters, reflecting the cultural diversity and geographical range of Islamic cultures.

Islamic Art

It includes not only objects used in the service of religion but also those created for the courts of the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as articles used in everyday life.

Iznik Plate with a depiction of an Ewer (late 16th century, Early Modern)

Basin (early mid-15th century, Late Medieval)

Among the highlights are a 7th-century carved and hammered silver bowl from Iran that demonstrates the continuation of Sassanian traditions in early Muslim Persia; a 13th-century candlestick made of copper, silver, and gold from the Mamluk era in Egypt; 16th-century mausoleum doors decorated with intricate wood carvings in a radiating star pattern; a delicate 17th-century silk sash from the Mughal Empire in India; and a 17th-century Turkish tile with an image of the Masjid al-Haram (“Great Mosque of Mecca”), the center of Islam in Mecca, (modern Saudi Arabia).

Tile with the Great Mosque of Mecca (17th century, Ottoman)

The Walters Museum owns an array of Islamic manuscripts that include a 15th-century Koran from northern India (executed at the height of the Timurid Empire); a 16th-century copy of the “Khamsa of Nizami” by Amir Khusraw (illustrated by a number of famous artists for the Emperor Akbar); and a Turkish calligraphy album by Sheikh Hamadullah Al-Amasi (one of the greatest calligraphers of all time).

Islamic Arms and Armor

The ongoing, 18-month, special exhibition “From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story, spanning the entire fourth floor of the museum, celebrates the museum’s 80th anniversary by examining the legacy of founders William and Henry Walters.

A Roman Emperor Claudius (1871, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema)

The Attack at Dawn (1877, Alphonse de Neuville)

It brings together, in 7 galleries, an extraordinary group of art and artifacts that illustrates the intriguing stories behind the Walters family’s magnificent gift to the city.

Walter Mountain Distilleries Whiskey Bottle and Tumblers with WTW Monogram

The “rye” in the exhibit name refers to the trade in rye whiskey that served as the basis of the family fortune while “Raphael” refers to the “Madonna of the Candelabra” (depicting Mary and Christ as divine royals) painting (not on view in the exhibition) by Renaissance master Raphael, purchased by Henry in 1901, the artist’s first Virgin and Child to enter a United States collection..

From Rye to Raphael – The Walters Story

Alongside Walters family photographs and historic material culled from the archives, it features 200 works chosen for their beauty and craftsmanship. Much of it comes from the museum’s permanent collection while other previously unseen objects were selected from the museum’s archives.

A Roman Slave Market (1884) by Jean Leon Gerome, depicting an eroticized nude female slave, seen from behind standing on a scaffold as men below call out their bids is, perhaps, the most sensuous image in the show but is also easily the most disturbing.

Its highlights include a 19th-century salon-style gallery (re-creating a room in the original Walters residence at 5 West Mount Vernon Place that was crammed floor to ceiling and wall to wall with artworks, gold frames gleaming against plum wallpaper) and a gallery of French works by such painters as Eugene Delacroix, Jean-Jacques Rosseau and Jean-Leon Gerome.

The Young Girl of Bou-Saada (Susse Freres Foundry, Ernest Barrias)

The Walters Art Museum: 600 North Charles Street, Mount Vernon-BelvedereBaltimoreMaryland 21201, United States.  Tel: +1 410-547-9000. Open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10 AM –5 PM (9 PM on Thursdays), closed Mondays,  Tuesdays, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Website: www.thewalters.org.

30th Street Station (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)

30th Street Station

The 52,000 m² (562,000 ft²) 30th Street Station, the main railroad station in Philadelphia and one of the seven stations in Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority‘s (SEPTA) Center City fare zone, sits across from the former United States Post Office-Main Branch. A major stop on Amtrak‘s (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) Northeast and Keystone Corridors, it is Amtrak’s 3rd-busiest station and the busiest of the 24 stations served in Pennsylvania. On an average day in 2013, about 11,300 people boarded or left trains in Philadelphia, nearly twice as many as in the rest of the Pennsylvania stations combined. This was to be our entry point to Philadelphia (from New York City) and exit point from Philadelphia to Baltimore (Maryland).

The main concourse

Originally known as the Pennsylvania Station–30th Street (in accord with the naming style of other Pennsylvania Stations), the enormous, steel-framed structure was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White (the successor to D.H. Burnham & Company). Construction began in 1927 and the station opened in 1933, starting with two platform tracks.

The author and son Jandy at the waiting area

From 1988-1991, the building was restored and renovated, at a cost of US$75 million,  by Dan Peter Kopple & Associates, with updated retail amenities added including several shops, a large food court, car rental facilities, Saxby’s CoffeeDunkin’ Donuts, both in the South Arcade and South Concourse, and others.

Dunkin’ Donut outlet

Above the passenger areas, 280,000 sq. ft. of office space was modernized to house approximately 1,100 Amtrak employees.  The former mail handling facility was converted into an underground parking garage. The 30th Street Station is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Train Schedule Display Board

The building’s architecturally interesting exterior, an adaptation and transformation of Neo-Classical elements into a more modern, streamlined Art Deco architectural style, has a pair of soaring, columned porte-cocheres on the west and east façade, its best known features.

Waiting Area

The cavernous, 290 by 135 ft. main passenger concourse, notable for its stylistic and functional elements, has ornate Art Deco décor, with a vast waiting room faced with travertine and a soaring  coffered ceiling, painted gold, red and cream, with beautiful chandeliers.

Ticket offices

Works of art are located throughout the building. Prominently displayed within the waiting area is the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial, sculpted in 1950 by Walker Hancock. Honoring 1,307 Pennsylvania Railroad employees (listed in alphabetical order on the four sides of the base of that sculpture) killed in World War II (out of the more than 54,000 who served), it consists of a bronze statue of the archangel Michael lifting the body of a dead soldier out of the flames of war.

Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial

The Spirit of Transportation, a bas relief sculpture of Karl Bitter, was executed in 1895 and originally placed in the waiting room of Broad Street Station, Philadelphia. On January, 1955, it was moved to current site in the North Waiting Room. The Spirit of Transportation is represented in triumphal procession of progress. It features a central female figure sitting in a horse-drawn carriage, while children cradle models of a steamship, steam locomotive and dirigible, a prophetic vision of a mode of transportation to come.

Spirit of Transportation bas-relief sculpture

The station was featured in the 1981 film Blow Out, the 1983 film Trading Places, the 1985 film Witness, the 2000 film Unbreakable, the 2010 video game Heavy RainAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 7, and the 2015 film The Visit. It is within walking distance of various attractions in West Philadelphia, notably the University of PennsylvaniaDrexel University, and the University City Science Center, all in University City. 

Kyle, Grace, Cheska and Jandy waiting for our train to Baltimore at the train platform

30th Street Station: 2955 Market Street, PhiladelphiaPennsylvaniaUnited States

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York City, U.S.A.)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, is the permanent home, of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year.

Museum Lobby

Overlooking Central Park, the site’s proximity to the park afforded relief from the noise, congestion and concrete of the city and nature also provided the museum with inspiration.  In 2013, nearly 1.2 million people visited the museum, and it hosted the most popular exhibition in New York City.

Atrium

Established in 1939 by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation  (established in 1937, it fosters the appreciation of modern art) as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting.  The museum adopted its current name in 1952, after the death of its founder.

The skylight

In 1959, the museum moved, from rented space, to its current Modernist, distinctively cylindrical building, a landmark work of 20th-century architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright who experimented with his organic style in an urban setting.

It took him 15 years, 700 sketches, and six sets of working drawings to create the museum. The museum underwent extensive expansion and renovations in 1992 (when an adjoining tower was built) and from 2005 to 2008.

Three sculptures by Edgar Degas

Three sculptures by Constantin Brancusi

The building was conceived, by Rebay, as a “temple of the spirit” that would facilitate a new way of looking at the modern pieces in the collection.

The Studio (1928,oil and black crayon on canvas, Pablo Picasso)

Accordionist (1911, oil on canvas, Pablo Picasso)

Woman With Yellow Hair (1931, oil on canvas, Pablo Picasso)

The only museum designed by Wright and his last major work (he died six months before its opening on October 21, 1959), the appearance of the building, viewed from the street, is in sharp contrast to the typically rectangular Manhattan buildings that surround it (a fact relished by Wright).

Bend in the Road Through the Forest (Paul Cezanne)

Still Life Plate of Peaches (Paul Cezanne)

Still Life Flask, Glass and Jug (Paul Cezanne)

It looks like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack, wider at the top than the bottom, and displaying nearly all curved surfaces.

Circumcision (oil on canvas, 1946, Jackson Pollock)

Plate from Poor Richard suite (1971, Philip Guston)

Internally, Wright’s plan for the viewing gallery was for the museum guests to ride to the top of the building by elevator, to descend, at a leisurely pace, along the gentle slope of the unique, continuous helical ramp gallery, extending up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral (recalling a nautilus shell) along the outer edges of the building and ending just under the ceiling skylight at the top.

The Antipope (December 1941–March 1942, Max Ernst)

Polyphonic (1945 Oil on canvas, Perle Fine)

The atrium of the building was to be viewed as the last work of art. The open rotunda afforded viewers the unique possibility of simultaneously seeing several bays of work on different levels and even to interact with guests on other levels.

Black Lines (Vassily Kandinsky)

Striped (1934, oil with sand on canvas, Vassily Kandinsky)

Wright’s spiral design, embracing nature, with continuous spaces flowing freely one into another, also expresses his take on Modernist architecture’s rigid geometry.

Dining Room on the Garden (1934-35, oil on canvas, Pierre Bonnard)

Invention (Composition No. 3) – 1933,oil on canvas, Rudolf Bauer

To reduce the cost, the building’s surface was made out of concrete, inferior to the stone finish, with a red-colored exterior, that Wright had wanted and which was never realized.

Men in the City (1919, oil on canvas, Fernand Leger)

The Smokers (1911-12, oil on canvas, Fernand Leger)

Also largely for financial reasons, Wright’s original plan for an adjoining tower, artists’ studios and apartments also went unrealized until the renovation and expansion.

Eiffel Tower (1911, oil on canvas, Robert Delaunay)

Portrait of Countess Albazzi, (1880, Pastel on primed canvas, Edouard Manet)

Wright’s carefully articulated lighting effects for the main gallery skylight had been compromised when it was covered during the original construction but, in 1992, was restored to its original design.

In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse (Paul Gaugin)

The Kiss (1927, Max Ernst)

The “Monitor Building” (as Wright called it), the small rotunda next to the large rotunda, was intended to house apartments for Rebay and Guggenheim but, instead, became offices and storage space. In 1965, the second floor of the Monitor building was renovated to display the museum’s growing permanent collection.

Nude Model in the Studio (1912-13, oil on burlap, Fernand Leger)

With the 1990–92 restoration of the museum, it was turned over entirely to exhibition space and christened the Thannhauser Building, in honor of art dealer Justin K. Thannhauser, one of the most important bequests to the museum. Much of the interior of the building was restored during the 1992 renovation.

Orphism (Robert Delauney)

Also in 1992, a new, adjoining rectangular 10-storey limestone tower, taller than the original spiral and designed by the architectural firm of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, expanded the exhibition space with the addition of four additional exhibition galleries with flat walls.

Knight Errant (1916, oil on canvas, Oskar Kokoschka)

Yellow Bar (Rolph Scarlett)

Between September 2005 and July 2008, the museum underwent a significant exterior restoration to repair cracks and modernize systems and exterior details. It was completed on September 22, 2008.  On October 6, 2008, the museum was registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Improvisation 28 (second version) – Vassily Kandinsky

In 2001, the museum opened the 8,200 sq. ft. (760 m2) Sackler Center for Arts Education (a gift of the Mortimer D. Sackler family), a facility located on the lower level of the museum, below the large rotunda.

Woman with Parakeet (1871, oil on canvas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir)

Listening (1920, oil on canvas, Heinrich Campendonk)

It provides classes and lectures about the visual and performing arts and opportunities to interact with the museum’s collections and special exhibitions through its labs, exhibition spaces, conference rooms and 266-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater.

Paris Through the Window (1913, oil on canvas, Marc Chagall)

The Flying Carriage (1913, oil on canvas, Marc Chagall)

The Soldier Drinks (1911-12, oil on canvas, Marc Chagall)

Beginning with Solomon R. Guggenheim‘s original collection works of the old masters since the 1890s, the museum’s collection (shared with the museum’s sister museums in Bilbao, Spain, and elsewhere) has grown organically, over eight decades. It is founded upon several important private collections. Here’s a chronology of the museum’s acquisitions:

Personage (1925, oil on canvas, Juan Miro)

  • In 1948, the collection was greatly expanded through the purchase of art dealer Karl Nierendorf’s estate of some 730 objects, notably German expressionist.

Mountains at Saint Remy (1889, oil on canvas, Vincent Van Gogh)

Landscape with Snow (1888, oil on canvas, Vincent Van Gogh)

Before the Mirror (1876, oil on canvas, Edouard Manet)

Arc of Petals (Alexander Calder)

Adam and Eve (Constantin Brancusi)

Little French Girl (Constantin Brancusi)

On Brooklyn Bridge (1917, oil on canvas, Albert Gleizes)

Woman with Animals (1914, oil on canvas, Albert Gleizes)

  • In 1992, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation donated 200 of Mapplethorpe’s best photographs to the foundation, an acquisition that initiated the foundation’s photography exhibition program.  Spanning his entire output, it includes early collages, Polaroids, portraits of celebrities, self-portraits, male and female nudes, flowers and statues, mixed-media constructions and included his well-known 1998 Self-Portrait.

  • In 2001, a large collection of the Bohen Foundation was gifted to the foundation. It consists of commissioned works of art (Pierre Huyghe, Sophie Calle, etc.), with an emphasis on film, video, photography and new media.

The building has been widely praised and inspired many other architects. However, the design polarized architecture critics who believed that the building would overshadow the museum’s artworks.

Alchemy (Jackson Pollock)

Some artists have also protested the display of their work in such a space. The continuous spiral ramp gallery, tilted with non-vertical curved walls, presented challenges to the museum’s ability to present art at all as it is awkward and difficult to properly hang paintings in the shallow, windowless concave exhibition niches that surround the central spiral.

The Neighborhood of Jas de Bouffan (Paul Cezanne)

Bibemus (Paul Cezanne)

Canvasses must be mounted raised from the wall’s surface. Paintings hung slanted back would appear “as on the artist’s easel.” There was also limited space within the niches for sculpture.

The Break of Day (1937, oil on canvas, Paul Delvaux)

Landscape Near Antwerp (1906, oil on canvas, Georges Braque)

The slope of the floor and the curvature of the walls also combined to produce vexing optical illusions. Three-dimensional sculpture or any vertical object appears tilted in a “drunken lurch.”

The Sun in Its Jewel Case (Yves Tanguy)

To compensate for the space’s weird geometry, special plinths were constructed at a particular angle, so that pieces were not at a true vertical would appear to be so.

The Red Bird (1944, oil on canvas, Adolph Gottlieb)

Fruit Dish on a Checkered Table Cloth (Juan Gris)

However, this trick proved impossible for an Alexander Calder mobile whose wire inevitably hung at a true plumb vertical, “suggesting hallucination” in the disorienting context of the tilted floor.

The Fourteenth of July (Pablo Picasso)

Bird on a Tree (Pablo Picasso)

Three Bathers (Pablo Picasso)

Some of the most popular and important art exhibitions held here include:

  • The first season “Works and Process,” a series of performances at the Guggenheim begun in 1984, consisted ofPhilip Glass with Christopher Keene on Akhnaten and Steve Reich and Michael Tilson Thomas on The Desert Music.
  • “Africa: The Art of a Continent” (1996)
  • “China: 5,000 Years” (1998)
  • “Brazil: Body & Soul” (2001)
  • “The Aztec Empire” (2004)
  • The Art of the Motorcycle– an unusual exhibition of commercial art installations of motorcycles.
  • The 2009 retrospective of Frank Lloyd Wright – the museum’s most popular exhibit (since it began keeping such attendance records in 1992), it showcased the architect on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the building.

Dancers in Green and Yellow (1903, pastel and charcoal on tracing paper mounted to paperboard, Edgar Degas)

In The International, a shootout occurs in the museum. A life-size replica of the museum was built for this scene. 

Tableau No. 2, Composition No. VII (1913, Oil on Canvas, Piet Mondrian)

Composition 8 (Piet Mondrian)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: 1071 Fifth Avenue corner East 89th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York City, NY 10128, USA. Tel: +1 212-423-3500. E-mail: visitorinfo@guggenheim.org. Open 10 AM – 5:45 PM. Admission: US$25 for adults, US$18 for students and seniors (65 years + with valid ID), children below 12 years old is free.

Museum of Modern Art (New York City, U.S.A.)

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA),  an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, is one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. MoMA’s admission cost of US$25 makes it one of the most expensive museums in the city.

The crowd that day inside the museum

However, it has free entry on Fridays, sponsored by clothing company Uniqlo, after 4PM and this we availed of. As such, the museum was more crowded (including the inevitable Oriental selfie snappers) than I would have liked and it was hard to move around but who can complain?

Photography (minus the camera flash) was allowed here, though my pictures didn’t capture the impact of the in-real-life viewing. There are 5 floors of artwork to admire and the huge galleries, whose overall chronological flow presents a perspective of stylistic progression and place in time, were well laid out. I allow a minimum of two hours to explore the museum.

The author besides Joan Miro’s The Hunter – Catalan Landscape (1923-24, Oil on Canvas)

MoMA  has been important in developing and collecting Modernist art and its collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art, including works of sculpturearchitecture and designdrawingpaintingphotographyprintsillustrated books and artist’s booksfilm and electronic media.

A private non-profit organization, MoMA is the seventh-largest U.S. museum by budget (its annual revenue is about US$145 million, none of which is profit).

Andre Derain (Bathers, 1907, Oil on Canvas)

Vasily Kandinsky (Picture with an Archer, 1909, Oil on Canvas)

Rene Magritte (The Lovers, 1928, Oil on Canvas)

MOMA is considered, by many, to have the best collection of modern Western masterpieces in the world.  Its holdings include more than 150,000 individual pieces in addition to approximately 22,000 films and 4 million film stills (access to the collection ended in 2002 and the collection is mothballed in a vault in Hamlin, Pennsylvania).

Claude Monet (Agapanthus, Oil on Canvas, 1914-26)

Kara Walker (40 Acres of Mules)

Andrea Bowers (A Menace to Liberty, 2012)

All the classics were here and it was moving, inspiring, immersive and absorbing but also a bit overwhelming. The nicely curated collection at the fifth floor houses such important and familiar works as the following:

Claude Monet (The Japanese Footbridge)

Jackson Pollock (One Number 31, 1950)

It also holds works by a wide range of influential European and American artists including Georges BraqueMarcel DuchampWalker EvansHelen FrankenthalerAlberto GiacomettiArshile GorkyHans HofmannEdward HopperPaul KleeFranz KlineWillem de KooningDorothea LangeFernand LégerRoy LichtensteinMorris LouisRené MagritteJoan MiróHenry MooreKenneth NolandGeorgia O’KeeffeJackson PollockRobert RauschenbergAuguste RodinMark RothkoDavid SmithFrank Stella, and hundreds of others.

Fernand Leger (The Mirror, 1925, Oil on Canvas)

Fernand Leger (Woman with a Book, 1923, Oil on Canvas) (1)

Many of the paintings have an audio option which is great for some background information.

Vincent Van Gogh (The Starry Night, 1889, Oil on Canvas)

Seeing the original painting of Vincent van Gogh’s famous The Starry Night was certainly a moving experience that I shall not soon forget. I could actually see the layers and layers of paint, the small brush strokes and all of the colors of paint that are far more vivid on canvas.

Claude Monet (Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond)

Claude Monet’s Water Lilies triptych, breathtaking to see in person, was also a big highlight worth seeing. The Picasso’s were also stunning, It was also great to see the full set of Andy WarholCampbell’s Soup Cans.

Any Warhol (Campbell’s soup cans, 1962)

An acquired taste is required for the 3rd and the 4th floors which were very contemporary and not to my liking. The perplexing abstract pieces, using garage components such as snow shovels and car tires hammered (which begs the question “what was that supposed to be?”), didn’t excited me but they were still worth seeing how imaginative (and indulgent) modern artists have become.

Shirana Shahbazi (Composition 40 2011)

Louise Bourgeois (The Quartered One)

Magdalena Abakanowicz (Yellow Abakan, 1967-68)

Certain pieces here challenged my preconceived ideas, making me scratch your head and ask the question “Is that’s art?” upon seeing 7 boards of wood painted white being called art.

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150

The very informative Frank Lloyd-Wright exhibit, with its original drawings (painstakingly rendered the old fashion way), blueprints, sketches and models for many of his projects (both completed and proposed); was very interesting.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Articles about the the myth of the great American architect provide interesting insights into his thinking and inspirations, portraying how advanced his ideas were in many ways.

Henri Matisse – Music (Sketch, 1907, Oil and Charcoal on Canvas)

Henri Matisse (Periwinkles-Morrocan Garden, Oil, Pencil and Charcoal on Canvas, 1912)

Henri Matisse (Still Life with Aubergines, Oil on Canvas, 1911)

Henri Matisse (The Rose Marble Table, Oil on Canvas, 1917)

MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, was founded in 1932, is the first museum department in the world dedicated to the intersection of architecture and design.  Philip Johnson, the department’s first director, served as curator between 1932–34 and 1946–54.

Henri Matisse (La Serpentine, Bronze, 1909)

Henri Matisse (Dance-1, 1909, Oil on Canvas)

Henri Matisse (The Morrocans, Oil on Canvas, 1915-16)

The collection consists of 28,000 works including architectural models, drawings and photographs and one of its highlights is the Mies van der Rohe Archive. It also includes works of legendary architects and designers Frank Lloyd WrightPaul László, the EamesesIsamu Noguchi, and George Nelson.

Pablo Picasso (Les Demoiselle d’Avignon, Oil on Canvas, 1907)

Pablo Picasso (Woman with Pears, 1909, Oil on Canvas)

Pablo Picasso (The Studio, Oil on Canvas, 1927-28)

The Design Collection contains many industrial and manufactured pieces, ranging from a self-aligning ball bearing to an entire Bell 47D1 helicopter.

Bell 47D1 helicopter

In 2012, the department acquired a selection of 14 video games, the basis of an intended collection of 40 which is to range from Pac-Man (1980) to Minecraft (2011). The world-renowned Art Photography Collection, founded by Beaumont Newhall in 1940, includes photos by Todd Webb.

Pablo Picasso (Nude with Joined Hands, Oil on Canvas, 1906)

Pablo Picasso (Two Nudes, 1906, Oil on Canvas)

Pablo Picasso (Ma Jolie, 1911)

Pablo Picasso (Bather, Oil on Canvas, 1908-09)

The building also features an entrance for school groups, a 125-seat auditorium, an orientation center, workshop space for teacher training programs, study centers, and a large lobby with double-height views into the beautiful outdoor Sculpture Garden, at the mile of the museum, which features Aristide Maillol’s The River, a great statue of a woman diva laying on her back above the water.

Aristide Maillol (The River)

Alexander Calder (Sandy’s Butterfly, 1964)

From about 1.5 million a year, MoMA has seen its average number of visitors rise to 2.5 million after its new granite and glass renovation. In 2009, the museum reported 119,000 members and 2.8 million visitors over the previous fiscal year.

Paul Cezanne (Still Life with Apples, 1895-98, Oil on Canvas)

Paul Cezanne (L’Estaque, 1879-83, Oil on Canvas)

Paul Cezanne – Château Noir 1904-06, Oil on canvas, 73.6 x 93.2 cm.)

During its 2010 fiscal year, it attracted its highest-ever number of visitors of 3.09 million. However, in 2011, attendance dropped 11% to 2.8 million.

Paul Cezanne (The Bather, 1885, Oil on Canvas)

Paul Cezanne (Pines and Rocks – Fountainbleau)

Since its founding in 1929, the museum was open every day until 1975, when it closed one day a week (originally Wednesdays) to reduce operating expenses. In 2012, it again opened every day, including Tuesday, the one day it has traditionally been closed.

Henry Rosseau (The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897, Oil on Canvas)

Henri Rosseau (The Dream, 1910, Oil on Canvas)

The museum’s awesome gift shop had a lovely selection of gifts such as magnets, prints and more unique items like socks and scarves with art on them as well that summed up all of the amazing art throughout the museum. 

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (Painting No. 4, 1962)

Mademoiselle Pogany (Constantin Brancusi)

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): 11 West 53rd St. (between Fifth and Sixth Ave.) , New York City, NY 10019, USA. Open 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM (8 PM on Fridays). Admission: US$25/adult, children below 12 years old is free. 

How to Get There:

Bus: Any line to 53rd Street

Metro: Any line to Fifth Avenue or 53rd Street

Palazzo Strozzi (Florence, Italy)

Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi

From Kandinsky to Pollock The Art of the Guggenheim Collections (3)Palazzo Strozzi, facing the historical Via de’ Tornabuoni, is one of the finest examples of Renaissance domestic and civil architecture.  It has, since World War II, been Florence’s largest temporary exhibition space and, today, the palace is used for the now-annual antique show (founded as the Biennale dell’Antiquariato in 1959), international expositions, fashion shows, and other cultural and artistic events such as “Cézanne in Florence, Two Collectors and the 1910 Exhibition of Impressionism.” During our visit, there ongoing exhibits were “Migrazioni” (Liu Xiadong, April 22-June 19, 2016) and “From Kandinsky to Pollock: The Art o the Guggenheim Collections” (March 19-July 24, 2016)

From Kandinsky to Pollock The Art of the Guggenheim Collections

From Kandinsky to Pollock The Art of the Guggenheim Collections

Designed by Benedetto da Maiano and begun in 1489  , the palace was built for Florentine banker, statesman and merchant Filippo Strozzi the Elder, a rival of the  Medici who had returned to the city in November 1466.  He desired the most magnificent palace to assert his affluent family’s continued prominence and, perhaps more important, a political statement of his own status.

Wooden model of the Palazzo Strozzi

Wooden model of the Palazzo Strozzi

To provide enough space for the construction of the largest palace that had ever been seen in Florence, a great number of other buildings were acquired during the 1470s and then demolished. A wood model of the design was provided by Giuliano da Sangallo. Italian architect Simone del Pollaiolo (il Cronaca), in charge of its construction until 1504, left the palace incomplete and the palace was only completed in 1538, long after Filippo Strozzi’s death in 1491.  That same year, Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici confiscated it but it was returned to the Strozzi family thirty years later.

Cortile (Central Courtyard)

Cortile (Central Courtyard)

Cortile (Central Courtyard) (3)It remained the property and seat of the Strozzi family until 1937, after which time it was occupied by the Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni which made great changes to the building. Since 1999, it has been managed by the City of Florence. The Palazzo is now home to the Institute of Humanist Studies, the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi (Palazzo Strozzi Foundation), the noted Gabinetto Vieusseux, with its library and reading room, and the Istituto Nazionale del Rinascimento (Renaissance Studies Institute), the last two occupying the building since 1940.

The dominating cornice

The dominating cornice

StairFrom Palazzo Medici, Filippo copied the cubic form, designing its three floors around a cortile  (central courtyard) surrounded by an arcade,  inspired by Michelozzo. Its rusticated stone was also inspired by the Palazzo Medici but with more harmonious proportions. However, this free-standing structure is surrounded on all four sides by streets unlike the Medici Palace which is sited on a corner lot and, thus, has only two sides. The ground plan of Palazzo Strozzi, rigorously symmetrical on its two axes, with clearly differentiated scales for its principal rooms, introduced a problem new in Renaissance architecture (given the newly felt desire for internal symmetry of planning symmetry) – how to integrate the cross-axis.

The paired mullioned windows

The paired mullioned windows

Migrazioni (Liu Xiadong) (3)The three sides overlooking the street each have three arched portals. The palazzo, with its dominating cornice (typical of the Florentine palaces of the time), has paired mullioned  windows (bifore) and wrought-iron lanterns, done by an iron-worker named Caparra, decorating the corners of the palace exterior. As they rise to the keystone, the radiating voussoirs of the arches increase in length, a detail that was much copied for arched windows set in rustication in the Renaissance revival.

Migrazioni (Liu Xiadong)

Migrazioni (Liu Xiadong)

Palazzo Strozzi: Piazza degli Strozzi, 50123 Florence, Italy. Tel: +39 055 264 5155. Open daily, 10 AM – 8 PM (Thursdays, 11 PM). E-mail: info@palazzostrozzi.org. Website: www.palazzostrozzi.org. Admission: €12.00.