Monday, November 14, 2016

Museums of the World

Statue from outside the
National Palace Museum in
Taiwan, outside Taipei.
I have a fondness for museums, though I don't get around to visiting them very often.

When I was young, I wasn't too interested in them, unless they were interactive and kid-themed. But as I've gotten older, I have come to appreciate the wealth of history and culture, and the beauty of what can be found.

Illuminated Tao Te Ching from National Palace Museum
It's not always possible to work in a museum visit, but when it is, I enjoy the experience. I'm no art major, nor a historian, but it's still intriguing. On my recent trip to visit my in-laws in Taiwan, I had the chance to visit the National Palace Museum and the Jade and Coral museum in Taipei 101. The ancient ceramics and artworks at the National Palace museum were a huge highlight for me, and I was stunned by the artistry at the (admittedly far more commercial) Taipei 101 collection.

I once had a chance to explore the Louvre, but I hadn't nearly enough time to really get a sense of it. I think I would have been in love if I'd had more time to explore. Meanwhile, the Museum of Modern Art in New York was pretty cool, especially seeing Starry Night in person, but honestly I think I had more fun overall at the Museum of Life and Science closer to home in NC, because of the beautiful butterfly house. Of course, that's a lot easier to visit, and has a giant tree fort, so maybe that plays a part in my preference.

When you travel, do you take the time to visit museums? What are some of the favorite museums you've been to?

Jade sculpture from jade and coral museum
at Taipei 101


  1. Since most of my travel is specifically to work in museum collections, yes! ;)
    But yes, I do make a habit of visiting any other natural history museums I happen upon in my travels. And often history museums as well.
    My favorites are:
    History- The Museum of London, The Inner Mongolia Museum, the Nördlingen City Museum, and the Archeological Crypt below Notre Dame, the Cloister in NY
    Natural History and Science: The American Museum of Natural History, the Ries Crater Museum, the glass botanicals gallery at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and I think I would have really liked the Marseille Natural History Museum if I'd had time to go through the exhibits.

    1. I also like the University of Iowa Natural History Museum, but originally left it out 'cause I may be biased since I volunteered there. But I do love their Bird Hall and Mammal Hall. The latter unfortunately needs a lot of love. The dioramas themselves are done very masterfully and in this old, beautiful dark wood casing, but funding ran out before the ambiance of the place could be finished and several of the taxidermied mounts need some serious preservation done (like a black rhino which has developed cracks in its skin). They're actually doing a crowdfunding campaign right now to finish the one diorama that was never finished, which is a pair of lions that used to live in the city zoo.

    2. You have an insanely awesome list of museums. Also, glass botanicals... that sounds really cool! Where is the Ries Crater? I haven't heard of that one yet!

    3. Never seems like museums get enough funding. At least, not the ones in smaller cities. I hope they succeed in the crowdfunding! Sounds like the Mammal Hall would be amazing if they could finish it.

    4. The Ries Crater Museum is in Nördlingen, Germany, which is in the Ries Crater. The town's built inside an impact crater and the medieval cathedral is built of impact materials. It's a wonderful little town. On top of that museum and the cathedral (which you can walk around inside and climb to the top of the tower; gorgeous architecture and cool heraldry displayed inside), there's the city museum which I also mentioned (it was the site of an important battle during the Reformation; the town decided to turn Protestant and the Catholic Church was not happy about that), a museum about the city wall (it's one of three towns in Germany which still have the entire city wall), and the wall itself. Whoever was in charge of designing exhibits there is awesome because they're very well done. The place is small enough that you only need one full day there to see everything, but the quality is jam-packed.
      Look up Blaschka glass models. The Blaschkas were a father-and-son duo who were astoundingly good glass artisans. If they made something out of glass, it looked real.
      It's very true that museums don't get enough funding. Only the very biggest ones, and they still have to ask for it. In the US, at least. Some other countries place more importance on it. Like Thailand, which keeps the natural history museum I visited there well-funded. Possibly in part because it's named after their princess. The last time natural history museums in the US were that well-funded was the turn of the 20th century, when a lot of the big expeditions gathering most of the taxidermied animals you see happened.