Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer Art and Travels

We are in full swing--summer is on us! I hope you are doing good things with your time! Put down the video game controller, turn off the tv, get out some paper and glue and make a collage, or pull out your crayons and draw your brother or sister!

As usual, I'm traveling. I took my daughters to Washington, DC to see an art exhibit at the National Gallery, "The Sacred Made Real," in which a special collection of Spanish art was featured. It had been in London during winter break and was definitely worth seeing. Sometimes art looks exactly like life.

We also got to go to the home of an art collector, Marjorie Merriweather Post. She was very wealthy and collected decorative arts. That's stuff you put in your house--dishes, clocks, candlesticks, and all the little things that dress up a house. Her big thing, though, was collecting Russian decorative arts, especially Faberge' eggs and things owned by the last tsarist ruling family, the Romanovs. Maybe you've seen the movie Anastasia?

There was wonderful furniture, beautiful dishes, icons that came from churches that had been destroyed in the Bolshevik revolution, and even a tiara that had been worn during the coronation of one of the Romanovs.

Here are some things to look up on your computer, while you are trying to figure out what to do with yourself this summer:
  • What's so important about the Romanovs? Why did their stuff get scattered?

  • What is an icon (not the computer kind!)

  • What's the story behind Faberge' eggs?

Marjorie Merriweather Post's house is an unusual type of museum, because it is, indeed, a house rather than a big building full of displays. She built special places into her house so that she could show all of the beautiful things she discovered on her travels around the world. There were special rooms with display cases, and little spots with built-in displays to house her massive collection. Many of the things she found in her travels were hidden artworks--for example, this chalice was in a dark room in an antique store in Russia. When she got it home and polished it, it was seven pounds of pure gold!

The other thing that was so cool about Hillside, her home (right there in Washington, DC, just past the zoo), was the gardens. Here's a picture of the Japanese garden.

And this is her house, when you walk inside. Wow!
Check out Hillside on the internet and see what you can find about it. Not only is it beautiful, but it has very important art in it. Ms. Post's life was very interesting, too! Find out who she was and what she did in the world. It was pretty cool! We are lucky she left her house as a museum--it's like no other museum you'll see.
I'm in a city of wonderful museums right now--my favorite city of all. Look around the blog and it won't take long to figure out where I am. I hope your summer's going happily--I want to hear everybody's stories!

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