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.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington D.C., USA)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, an art museum  sited halfway between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol, anchoring the southernmost end of the so-called L’Enfant axis (perpendicular to the Mall’s green carpet), is part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Interior court and fountain

Conceived as the United States’ museum of contemporary and modern art, it currently focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning mainly on the post–World War II period, with particular emphasis on art made during the last 50 years. The museum has a budget of US$8 million, which does not include the US$10 to US$12 million in operational support supplied by the Smithsonian Institution.

Geometric Mouse, Variation I, Scale A (Claes Oldenburg, 1971)

The museum was initially endowed, during the 1960s, with the permanent art collection of more than 6,000 items of Joseph H. Hirshhorn (who enjoyed great success from uranium-mining investments), started  in his forties, which consisted of works from classic French Impressionism as well as those by living artists, American modernism of the early 20th century, and sculpture brought from the Hirshhorns’ Connecticut estate and other properties.

Subcommitee (Tony Cragg, 1991, steel)

Here is the museum’s historical timeline:

  • In 1966, an Act of Congress established the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Most of its funding was federal, but Hirshhorn later contributed US$1-million toward its construction.
  • On July 1967, an original plan, with an elongated, sunken rectangle crossing the Mall with a large reflecting pool across the Mall, designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft, was approved.
  • In 1969, groundbreaking takes place on the former site of the Army Medical Museum and Library (built in 1887) after the brick structure was demolished.
  • On July 1, 1971, after excavation was started, a revised design, with a smaller footprint, was approved. The revised design, deliberately stark, using gravel surfaces and minimal plantings to visually emphasize the works of art, also shifted the garden’s Mall orientation from perpendicular to parallel and reduces its size from 8,100 sq. m. (2 acres) to 5,300 sq. m. (1.3 acres).
  • In 1974, the museum was opened with three floors of painting galleries, a fountain plaza for sculpture, and the Sculpture Garden. In the first six months, one million visitors saw the 850-work inaugural show.
  • In the summer of 1979, the Sculpture Garden was closed.
  • In September 1981, the Sculpture Garden was reopened after a renovation and redesign by Lester Collins, a well-known landscape architect and founder of the Innesfree Foundation. The design introduces plantings, paved surfaces, accessibility ramps, and areas of lawn.
  • In 1985, the Museum Shop is moved to the lobby, increasing exhibition space at its former location on the lower level.
  • On December 1991, the Hirshhorn Plaza is closed.
  • In 1993, Hirshhorn Plaza is reopened after a renovation and redesign by landscape architect James Urban. The 11,000 sq. m. (2.7-acre) area around and under the building is repaved in two tones of gray granite, and raised areas of grass and trees are added to the east and west.
  • In 2013, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden drew around 645,000 visitors.
  • In 2014, the Museum Shop is moved back to the lower level.

Museum Shop

Here are some technical information on the museum:

  • The building and its walls were surfaced with precast concrete aggregate of “Swenson” pink granite
  • The building has a diameter of 231 ft., 115 ft. for the interior court and 60 ft. for the fountain.
  • The building is 82 ft. high and elevated 14 ft. on 4 massive, sculptural piers.
  • The museum provides 5,600 sq. m. (60,000 sq. ft.) of exhibition space on three floors inside and nearly 4 acres outside in its two-level Sculpture Garden and plaza for a total of 197,000 sq. ft. of total exhibition space, indoors and outdoors.
  • It has a 274-seat auditorium at the lower level.
  • There are 2.7 acres around and under the museum building.
  • The 1.3-acre Sculpture Garden, across Jefferson Drive, was sunk 6–14 ft. below street level and ramped for accessibility.
  • The second and third floor galleries have 15-ft. high walls, with exposed 3-ft. deep coffered ceilings.
  • The lower level includes exhibition space, storage, workshops, offices while the fourth floor includes offices and storage.

Pumpkin (Yayoi Kusama, 2016)

The building, an open cylinder elevated on four massive “legs,” with a large fountain occupying the central courtyard, itself is an attraction.  The new federal museum’s modern look and intrusively expansive sculptural grounds is a striking contrast to everything else in the city.

Still Life with Spirit and Xtile (Jimmie Durham, 2007)

At the museum entrance is the deceptively simple Still Life with Spirit and Xitle , one of the most well-known works of art by artist Jimmie Durham (a sculptor who is known for his sense of humor and irreverence), features a slapstick disaster scene (intended to capture the clash between industrial and ancient spirits) of a 1992 Chrysler Spirit being crushed by a 9 ton red basalt boulder with a comical smiley face painted on it.

Woman Verso Untitled (Willem de Kooning, 1948)

Woman Before an Eclipse With Her Hair Disheveled by the Wind (Joan Miro, oil on canvas, 1967)

Notable artists in the Hirshhom collection include Pablo PicassoHenri MatisseMary CassattThomas EakinsHenry MooreJackson PollockMark RothkoFranz KlineHans HofmannMorris LouisKenneth NolandJohn ChamberlainFrancis BaconWillem de KooningMilton AveryEllsworth KellyLouise NevelsonArshile GorkyEdward HopperLarry Rivers, and Raphael Soyer among others.

Sleeping Muse I (Constantin Brancusi, 1909-1910, marble)

The Master Works from the Hirshhorn Collection, on view from June 9, 2016 to September 4, 2017, is a new rehanging of the permanent collection galleries at the third-level.  It features more than 75 works in virtually all media, highlights of Joseph Hirshhorn’s original gift, alongside some of the newest additions to the collection.

Untitled – Big Man (Ron Mueck, 2000, pigmented polyester resin on fiberglass)

They include several major artworks returning to view after more than a decade (such as Candian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle’s 1964 Large Triptych), as well as in-depth installations devoted to some of the most important artists in the collection.

Large Triptych (Jean-Paul Riopelle, 1964, oil on canvas)

Dog (Alberto Giacometti, 1951-57)

Exhibited are more than a dozen paintings and works on paper by Dutch abstract expressionist artist Willem de Kooning alongside sculptures by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, two of the 20th century’s greatest figurative artists.

Eleven A.M. (Edward Hopper, 1928, oil on canvas)

The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire (Ed Ruscha, 1965-68, oil on canvas)

Other cornerstones of the collection on view are Constantin Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse I (1909–10), Edward Hopper’s Eleven A.M. (1926), Edward Ruscha’s The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire (1965–68), French-American artist Louise Bourgeois’ Legs (1986/cast 2008) and Australian sculptor Ron Mueck’s Untitled (Big Man) (2000).

Window (Gerhard Richter, 1968, oil on canvas)

The End of Ending (Eduardo Basualdo, 2012)

In an adjacent room is The End of Ending (2012), a massive sculptural installation by Argentinian artist Eduardo Basualdo which occupies all but a sliver of walkable space in a gallery. R.S.V.P. X (1976/2014), the performative sculpture  by African-American Senga Nengudi (among a group of artists in 1970’s Los Angeles who explored conceptual art in their pursuit of a distinctly African-American aesthetic), also appears at the museum for the first time.

Spearfishing (Peter Doig, 2013)

Siren of the Niger (Wilfredo Lam, 1950, oil and charcoal on canvas)

The exhibition is augmented by a special loan of Scottish painter Peter Doig’s painting Spearfishing (2013), which hangs alongside richly colored canvases by British figurative painter Francis Bacon, American painter Richard Diebenkorn and Cuban artist Wifredo Lam.

Field for Skyes (Joan Mitchell, 1973, oil on canvas)

1962-D (Clyfford Still, oil on canvas)

Some of the most recent additions to the Hirshhorn’s collection are represented by new cultural histories. O Abuso da História  (The Abuse of History, 2014) is a video, by Brazil-based Mexican artist Héctor Zamora, of a riotously destructive group performance at São Paulo’s historic Hospital Matarazzo.

From Continent to Continent (Mario Merz, 1985)

Iris, Messenger of the Gods (Auguste Rodin)

Cuban artist Reynier Leyva Novo’s 5 Nights (2014), from his series “The Weight of History,” in the Lerner Room (overlooking the National Mall), maps revolutionary 20th-century manifestos by Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and Muammar Gaddafi to conceptual monochromes, based on the amount of ink spilled in the writing of each text.

Markus Lupertz: Threads of History

The Markus Lupertz: Threads of History Exhibit, from May 24 to September 10, 2017, celebrates the pioneering early works of Markus Lüpertz (b. Liberec, Czech Republic, 1941), one of the most influential contemporary German artists who initiated a return to figurative painting during the late 1970s and 1980s, with an in-depth exploration of his groundbreaking paintings from the 1960s and 1970s.

Westwall – Siegfried Line (1968, distemper on canvas)

This exhibition brings more than 30 paintings to the National Mall including the 40-ft. long Westwall (Siegfried Line), a large-scale work on view for the first time in the US.

Tent – Dithyrambic (1965)

Motif – Dithyrambic II

Idyll IV (1969)

It coincides with The Phillips Collection’s exhibition Markus Lupertz (May 27 to September 3, 2017), which spans the artist’s entire career. Together, the two presentations form Lupertz’s first major US museum retrospective.

Our View from Here (Linn Meyers, 2016)

The Linn Meyers: Our View from Here Exhibition, from May 12, 2016 to August 13, 2017, creates the site-specific wall drawing Our View from Here, the largest work, to date, of American artist Linn Meyers (b. Washington, DC, 1968). Occupying the entire circumference of the inner ring galleries, it covers nearly 400 linear feet. This temporary drawing will be painted over at the end of the exhibition’s yearlong run.

Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn

Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn Exhibit, a collaborative artist project from June 28, 2017 to January 1, 2018, features the East Coast debut of the monumental installation Trace, which portrays 176 individuals, from more than 30 countries (the majority of whom are from Asia and the Middle East) whom Ai Weiwei (b. Beijing, 1957), one of China’s most provocative living artists, and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech who have been detained, exiled, or have sought political asylum because of their actions, beliefs or affiliations.

Ai Weiwei

The work foregrounds Ai Weiwei’s own experiences of incarceration, interrogation, and surveillance. In 2011, he was detained by the Chinese government for 81 days and then, until 2015, prohibited from traveling abroad.  Each of these portraits, comprising thousands of plastic Lego bricks, were assembled by hand and laid out on the floor.

Trace.  On the right wall is the 360-degree wallpaper installation entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca

Complementing the display of Trace is a new 360-degree wallpaper installation entitled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but Is Really an Alpaca. At first glance, the repeating graphic pattern looks merely decorative.  However, at closer inspection, it reveals surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and Twitter bird logos (which allude to Ai Weiwei’s tweets challenging authority). Together, both massive works span nearly 700 linear feet around the Hirshhorn’s second floor Outer Ring galleries.

The Last Conversation Piece (Juan Munoz, 1994-95, bronze)

The Sculpture Garden, outside the museum, features works by artists including Auguste RodinDavid SmithAlexander CalderJean-Robert IpoustéguyJeff Koons, and others. A permanent installation and a major attraction, since 2007, in the Sculpture Garden is Yoko Ono‘s famous Wish Tree for Washington, DC.

Are Years What? (Mark di Suvero)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: 700 Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW, National Mall, Washington, D.C. 20560, United States.  Website: www.hirshhorn.si.edu. Admission is free.  Open daily, 10 AM – 5:30 PM.

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.

Philadelphia Museum of Art (Pennsylvania, USA)

Philadelphia Museum of Art

This art museum, originally chartered in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, has impressive collections containing over 240,000 objects in over 200 galleries spanning 2,000 years. It includes major holdings of European, American and Asian origin, showing the creative achievements of the Western world since the first century BC and those of Asia since the third millennium AD.

The various classes of artwork include sculpture; paintings; prints; drawings; photographs;, arms and armor; and decorative arts.

The author

Standouts include a great Rogier van der Weyden altarpiece, the large The Bathers by Paul Cezanne, a room devoted to Philadelphia’s own realist painter Thomas Eakins, and the notorious mixed-media Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (most often called The Large Glass), exactly as the Dada master Marcel Duchamp installed it.

Prometheus Strangling the Vulture (Bronze, Jacques Lipchitz, cast 1952-53)

Upstairs are over 80 period rooms, from a Medieval cloister to an Indian temple.  In recent years, the museum has helped to organize shows,  from Paul Cezanne and Edgar Degas to Constantin Brancusi and Barnett Newman.

Jandy in front of a choir screen from the chapel of the chateau of Pagny

The main museum building, on Fairmount, a rocky hill topped by the city’s main reservoir located at the northwest end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (formerly Fairmount Parkway) at Eakins Oval, was completed in 1928.

Entrance Lobby

The museum administers several annexes including the Rodin Museum, also located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building (opened in 2007), which is located across the street just north of the main building.

Botanist Take a Core Sample of a 350 year old Redwood Tree, Redwood National Park, California (2008)

Bright Angel Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (2008)

The main museum building and its annexes, owned by the City of Philadelphia, are administered by a registered nonprofit corporation.

Allegory of the Schuykill River – Water Nymph and Bittern (William Rush)

La Premiere Pose (Howard Roberts)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art also administers the historic colonial-era houses of Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove, both located in Fairmount Park.

Dying Centaur (Bronze, William Rimmer, 1967)

Mother and Child II (Bronze, Jacques Lipchitz, 1941)

Every year, several special exhibitions are held in the museum including touring exhibitions arranged with other museums in the United States and abroad.

The Birth of Venus (Nicolas Poussin)

Head of a Woman and Flowers (Oil on canvas, Gustave Courbet, 1871)

The final design of the main building, in the form of three linked Greek temples, is mostly credited to two architects in the architectural firms of Horace Trumbauer and Zantzinger, Borie and Medary – Howell Lewis Shay for the building’s plan and massing, and chief designer Julian Abele for the detail work and perspective drawings.

Virgin and Child in a Landscape (Oil on panel, 1500)

Still Life with a Tortoise (Oil on canvas, possibly by Thomas Black, 1743)

Abele, the first African-American student to graduate (in 1902) from the University of Pennsylvania‘s Department of Architecture (now known as Penn’s School of Designadapted Classical Greek temple columns for the design of the museum entrances, and was responsible for the colors of both the building stone and the figures added to one of the pediments.

Western Civilization (1933, Paul Jennewein, colored by Leon V. Solon)

In 1919, construction of the main building began when Mayor Thomas B. Smith laid the cornerstone in a Masonic ceremony. The building was constructed with dolomite quarried in Minnesota. Because of shortages caused by World War I and other delays, the new building was not completed until 1928.

Interior.  At the top of the stairs is a statue of Diana (Gilded copper sheets, Augustus Saint Gaudens, 1892-93)

To help assure the continued funding for the completion of the design, the wings were intentionally built first and, once the building’s exterior was completed, 20 second-floor galleries containing English and American art opened to the public on March 26, 1928, though a large amount of interior work was incomplete. The building is also adorned by a collection of bronze griffins, which were adopted as the symbol of the museum in the 1970s.

Apollo (Terra cotta model cast in bronze after 1715, Francois Girardon)

Statue of Summer as Ceres (Jacques-Augustin Pajou)

Here are some interesting trivia regarding this museum:

  • In 2016, 775,043 people visited the museum, ranking it among the top one hundred most-visited art museums in the world.
  • Based on gallery space, the museum is also one of the largest art museums in the world.
  • It is the third-largest art museum in the country.
  • The building’s eight pediments were intended to be adorned with sculpture groups but one, “Western Civilization” (1933) by  Paul Jennewein, and colored by Leon V. Solon, has been completed. This sculpture group, awarded the Medal of Honor of the Architectural League of New York, features polychrome sculptures of painted terra-cotta figures, depicting Greek deities and mythological figures.
  • Due to a partnership, enacted early in the museum’s history, between the museum and the University of Pennsylvania,  the museum does not have any galleries devoted to EgyptianRoman, or Pre-Columbian art. The university loaned the museum its collection of Chinese porcelain, and the museum loaned a majority of its Roman, Pre-Columbian, and Egyptian pieces to the university. However, the museum still retains a few important pieces for special exhibitions.
  • In recent decades, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has become known due to the role it played in the Rocky films—Rocky (1976) and five of its six sequels, IIIIIVRocky Balboa and Creed. Rocky Balboa‘s (portrayed by Sylvester Stallone) famous run up the 72 steps of the east entrance stairs (informally nicknamed the Rocky Steps) is often mimicked by  visitors to the museum.  The museum’s stairs has been named by Screen Junkies as the second most famous movie location behind only Grand Central Station in New York.
  • For the filming of Rocky III, a 2.6 m. (8.5 ft.) tall bronze statue of the Rocky Balboa character, created in 1980, was placed at the top of the museum’s front stairs in 1982 (and again for the film Rocky V). After filming was complete, Stallone donated the statue to the city of Philadelphia. In 2006, the statue was relocated, from the now-defunct Spectrum sports arena, to a new display area on the north side of the base of the stairs.

Jandy and the author in front of the bronze statue of the Rock Balboa character

Here’s a historical timeline of the museum’s collections:

  • Its permanent collection began with objects from the 1876 Centennial Exposition (America’s first World’s Fair) and gifts from the public impressed with the exhibition’s ideals of good design and craftsmanship.
  • After the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art was opened on May 10, 1877, European and Japanese fine and decorative art objects and books for the museum’s library were among the first donations.
  • Starting in 1882, Clara Jessup Moore donated a remarkable collection of antique furniture, enamels, carved ivory, jewelry, metalwork, glass, ceramics, books, textiles and paintings.
  • In 1893 Anna H. Wilstach bequeathed a large painting collection, including many American paintings, and an endowment of US$500 million for additional purchases.
  • Within a few years, works by James Abbott McNeill Whistler and George Inness were purchased
  • In 1894, the Countess de Brazza’s lace collection was acquired, forming the nucleus of the lace collection.
  • In 1899,Henry Ossawa Tanner‘s The Annunciation was bought.
  • In 1942, E. Gallatin accepted an offer from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to provide a home for his collection. Within a few months 175 works from his collection were moved to Philadelphia.
  • In 1945, the estate of George Grey Barnard sold his second collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • On December 27, 1950, after protracted discussions and many visits from Director Fiske Kimball and his wife Marie, Louise and Walter Arensberg presented their collection of over 1000 objects to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Shortly after her 1956 wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, Philadelphian Grace Kelly donated her wedding dress to the museum.
  • Extensive renovation of the building lasted from the 1960s through 1976. Major acquisitions included the Carroll S. Tyson, Jr. and Samuel S. White III and Vera White collections, 71 objects from designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and Marcel Duchamp‘s Étant donnés.
  • In 1980, the museum acquired After the Bath by Edgar Degas.
  • In 1986, the art collection of John D. McIlhenny was bequeathed to museum. It includes masterpieces such as Ingres’s ”Comtesse de Tournon,” Delacroix’s 1844 version of ”The Death of Sardanapalus,” Degas’s ”Interior” of 1888-89,” Mary Cassatt at the Louvre” and ”Woman Drying Herself,” Cezanne’s portrait of his wife, van Gogh’s ”Rain,” Seurat’s ”Trombone Player: Study for ‘La Parade,” Toulouse-Lautrec’s ”At the Moulin Rouge” and Matisse’s ”Still Life on Table – The Pineapple” (1925)
  • In 1989, the museum acquired Fifty Days at Iliam by Cy Twombly.

Death of Sardanapalus (Oil on canvas, Eugene Delacroix, 1844)

Making a Train (Oil on canvas, Seymour Joseph Guy, 1867)

The Asian collection is highlighted by paintings and sculpture from China, Japan and India; furniture and decorative arts (including major collections of Chinese, Japanese and Korean ceramics); a large and distinguished group of Persian and Turkish carpets; and rare and authentic architectural assemblages such as a Chinese palace hall, a Japanese teahouse, and a 16th-century Indian temple hall.

The Bride of Lammermoor (Oil on panel, Sir Edwin Landseer, 1830)

Basket of Fruit (Oil on canvas, Edouard Manet, 1864)

Dating from the medieval era to the present, the European collection encompasses Italian and Flemish early-Renaissance masterworks; strong representations of later European paintings (including French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism); sculpture (with a special concentration in the works of Auguste Rodin); decorative arts; tapestries; furniture; and period rooms and architectural settings ranging from the facade of a medieval church in Burgundy to a superbly decorated English drawing room by Robert Adam.

Arms and Armor.  At center is the Portrait of a Nobleman with Duelling Gauntlet (1562)

The comprehensive arms and armor collection, the second-largest collection in the United States, was acquired from celebrated collector Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch in 1976, the Bicentennial Anniversary of the American Revolution.  Spanning several centuries, it includes European and Southwest Asian arms and armor.

The Angel of Purity – Maria Mitchell Memorial (Marble, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1902)

Diana (marble, 1826, Joseph Gott)

The American collection, among the finest in the United States, surveys more than three centuries of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts, with outstanding strengths in 18th- and 19th-century Philadelphia furniture and silver, Pennsylvania German art, rural Pennsylvania furniture and ceramics, and the paintings of Thomas Eakins (the museum houses the most important Eakins collection in the world).

Sketches of Thomas Eakins

Portrait of Hayes Agnew – Agnew Clinic (Oil on canvas, Thomas Eakins, 1889)

Modern artwork includes works by American Modernists as well as those of Pablo PicassoJean MetzingerAntonio RottaAlbert GleizesMarcel DuchampSalvador Dalí and Constantin Brâncuși. The expanding collection of contemporary art includes major works by Cy TwomblyJasper Johns, and Sol LeWitt, among many others.

The Seesaw (Oil on canvas, Francisco Goya, 1791-92)

Venus and Adonis (Oil on canvas, Charles-Joseph Natoire, 1740)

The museum also houses an encyclopedic holding of costume and textiles, as well as prints, drawings, and photographs. For reasons of preservation, they are displayed in rotation.

Equestrian statue of George Washington on Eakins Oval

In the square in front of the museum is an equestrian statue of George Washington erected by the German sculptor Rudolf Siemering.

The Lion Fighter (1858, Carl Conrad Albert Wolff)

The grandiose flight of steps behind him are flanked on the left The Lion Fighter, by Carl Conrad Albert Wolff, and on the right is The Amazon Attacked by a Panther by August Kiss, both casts from the Rauch School.

Mounted Amazon Attacked by a Panther (August Kiss, 1839, cast 1929)

The one-acre, terraced Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden, dedicated to the museum’s late director Anne d’Harnoncourt (1943–2008) and designed by OLIN landscape architects working with Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, extends the Museum’s vast galleries to the outdoors while strengthening its connections to the city of Philadelphia and Fairmount Park.

Social Consciousness (Jacob Epstein)

The garden is divided into five sections: the Upper Terrace, the Lower Terrace, two graveled galleries and a paved plaza. Works here include the iconic Giant Three-Way Plug (Cube Tap) of Claes Oldenburg which was presented to the museum by Geraldine and David N. Pincus; Flukes, the large-scale sculpture of a whale’s tail by Gordon Gund; Steps (Philadelphia) and Pyramid (Philadelphia), two concrete block sculptures by Sol LeWitt; a granite bench and table as well as a marble chair by Scott Burton; Steel Woman II by Thomas Schütte; and Curve I, a remarkable work, from 1973, made of weathering steel by Ellsworth Kelly.

Giant 3-Way Plug – Cube Tap (Claes Oldenburg)

Philadelphia Museum of Art: 2600 Benjamin Franklin ParkwayPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania 19130, USA. Tel: (215) 763-8100 Website: www.philamuseum.org. Open Tuesdays- Sundays, 10 AM – 5 PM. Admission: US$20/adult, children below 12 years old is free.

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.