We visited museums of various sorts just about every where we went: a little hidden museum on the Jomon culture in Japan, the Sun Yat Sen Museum in China, the museum at the Royal Palace in Thailand, museums in forts and palaces in India. But when we entered Europe, we started the seemingly endless obligatory museum sojourns. We quickly discovered our different museum styles:

George and Sam "swim" quickly though museums touching on the highlights, while Cassidy and I "crawl" savoring each nuance, taking notes, making drawings.

And then we discovered our limit for dealing with them at all.

Samantha studies two paintings among the thousands of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Our first experience was in Amsterdam with its plethora of museums. From the compendious Reijksmuseum to the red light district’s hidden Marijuana Museum, there is something to tempt the most jaded museum goer. But the only one I wanted to see was the one dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh. Although the building is plain and clumsy, the interior did not disappoint. I've seen most of these paintings in books for years, but I have never felt the energy, or really seen the passion, the subtleties and the progression and final change in his style. All of us were happily immersed here.

This was the first place I witnessed Cassidy's museum stamina. She was amazing, sitting on the floor staring at each painting, listening to every entry on the audio tour. She seemed to be a sponge, in no hurry to move out of this sea until she absorbed all she could. The rest of us dissolved into puddles of emotions and fatigue long before she was done. And we were to see it again and again, in Greece and Spain and Paris and London.

After Van Gogh, it was potluck. George took Cassidy to the Torture Museum, while Sam and I visited the Royal Palace, we girls saw an exhibit on the opulent life of Katherine the Great in the Neu Kirk, and we visited the Anne Frank Museum as a family.

Having had a taste of museum life, we continued to visit a number of museums wherever we went. We just kept going until we couldn’t face another one. Some places moved us, others barely maintained our attention. We’ll just give you a glimpse of some of our favorites. We remain silent on the Prado and Louve.

Jodhpur Fort Museum, India–This place is both a monument and a museum. Costumed guides glide from place to place as you are immersed in the past lives of the "royal" class. The local maharajah is sponsoring a remarkable restoration job, so an already good museum will get even better. We enjoyed a room that had a multitude of colored mercury glass balls suspended from the ceiling. It turned out that these were a ‘60’s (THAT’S 1960!) addition, and the room will soon be restored to its true splendor. (This is especially amazing in India, where museum collections are seldom even dusted.)

Salli, Samantha and Cassidy study this Madrid statue of the legendery Don Quixote and his trusty sidekick, Poncho and wonder about George and his windmills.

Heraklion Museum, Crete –A wonderful collection of items relating to the ancient Cretan heritage (especially Knossos). Like many older museums, it needs more interpretive material and information to put the items in context, but for sheer content, this one is a winner.

Greek Folk Art Museum, Vori, Crete–This tiny award-winning museum has an amazing display of commonly used items in Greek life. Some are still in use today.

Cairo Museum–Like a warehouse, down to undusted crates and objects, with a singular lack of interpretive material. But the sheer quantity of wondrous things on display is amazing and overwhelming. Egyptians are rightfully proud of their heritage.

Palacio Real, Madrid–After you have visited this palace and museum, others seems superfluous. Every bit as extravagant as Versailles (although Versailles's grounds and gardens win hands-down), but less crowded. It had the first pigeon-free plaza we have ever seen!

Thysson-Borensma Museum, Madrid--Probably the best art museum we have ever been in. To walk though its galleries is to see a complete history of Western art as told in a few of the best paintings of each period. Good interpretive material too!

Dali Museum, Figueres Spain--The man had a sense of humor. This gothic building was put together by Dali himself. With a courtyard boat with an umbrella and huge water drops suspended from a 20 foot pipe, to his more familiar works and illusions, it is not to be missed–even for those who are not Dali fans.

British Museum--You could spend days here and never see it all. It houses the treasures of a thousand British conquests and history (including the Lindow Man–the Druid prince found in a bog several years ago). The items are well preserved and have good interpretive materials.

British Museum of Natural History–The one museum we regretted not getting back to for a second visit. It has wonderful materials put together by bright people with a good sense of humor. (My favorite was the display on bugs that featured a kitchen full of critters in the usual suspect spots.) Much of it is interactive, and thus the usual museum-yawn is seldom seen here.

The towers of Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Back to Top

Home :: About :: Journals
If you'd like to write to George, Salli, Samantha or Cassidy, drop them a line!

Copyright 1996 - 2011 - No form of usage or reproduction allowed without express written permission