I went museum-hopping today, even though I should have stayed home and properly recovered from New Year’s (especially in light of my minor complaining of having worked on the day after New Year’s – especially when it was a Friday). Nonetheless, consider the following:

American Museum of Natural History has a fascinating exhibit on “Petra: Lost City of Stone”. Petra is most recognizable as the weird city in the stone that Indiana Jones and his dad went to get the Holy Grail in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Petra is real, not a George Lucas-made-up-facade, having once been a trade center in ancient Jordan. It was such a trade center of far reaches that even literature of China during the BCE era may have referred to Petra. It’s still open until July.

Meanwhile, my siblings and I managed to catch the El Greco exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, before it closes on Jan. 11, 2004. Incredible stuff – El Greco is the 16th-century painter named Domenikos Theotokopoulos – but will forever be “El Greco” because he was the Greek painter in the royal courts of Spain. His exaggerated, intensely psychological style made him seem ahead of his times, and inspired Picasso and others. I admired El Greco’s colors; the intense colors are not exactly traditionally synonymous with “Renaissance” – which made the art work even more remarkable.

The crowds were heavy – probably the one complaint I had about museum-hopping. NYC tourism is evidentally back in business, at least with popular exhibits. Popular exhibits open for a limited time are always sure to get crowds, but meanwhile, the permanent exhibits don’t attract the same numbers at all, considering how the Asian art galleries of the Met were otherwise empty. I had chills walking through the Central Asian stuff – Buddhist statues from Afghanistan were haunting reminders of the Buddha statues that the Taliban destroyed a few years ago.

NFL playoffs – stuff to make my other brother stay home and watch tv. Otherwise, bring on the new stuff on tv; I can’t take that much longer with the reruns.

0 thoughts on “Museum-hopping”

  1. The Petra site is awesome. I’m sure the exhibits themselves are extraordinary in person. I miss NYC museums and all around cultural institutions and activities.

    California has none of that sort of thing 🙁


  2. The Petra exhibit was especially exciting for the statues of Greco-Roman derivation, somehow co-existing with goods and products from east and south Asia. Plus, the span of history is amazing (B.C. period to somewhere A.D., where Petra’s early Christian churches gave way to the Ottoman empire and where the earthquakes ultimately ended Petra). The exhibit gave a pretty good sense that the different locations or the ancient world were hardly kept in isolation from each other.

    What’s really scary is how the cultural institutions can be so easily co-opted by corporate sponsorship or the let’s-attract-tourism agenda. On the one hand, the museums need the corporations and tourists to sponsor the projects they want to do and to help maintain the permanent collections. But, then when I look at the gift shops and the stuff – I wonder if we’re not losing sight of things. The gift shop stuff for the Petra exhibit included CD’s of a Jordanian piano prodigy (thought #1: “huh? What did that have to do with Petra?”; the memoirs of Queen Noor (not a bad book, actually); ceramics from Jordan (interesting products, too, since I’m not sure how many people, least of all myself, was aware of what goods may come from Jordan); and videotapes of… “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Lawrence of Arabia.” Uh huh. Let’s just hope we’re not getting blind-sided from the big picture…

  3. I saw on International History channel a show on the flood of Florence Italy 1967. It talked about the efforts of the “mud angels” who rescued the city’s priceless artifacts buried under all the mud and water. It talked about the feelings of the citizens who wondered why they took time to rescue books, artwork etc rather than helping citizens to clean up and rebuild. My reaction was “Of course! Yeah go for it!” It was the right choice. People’s homes and lives can be rebuilt. A people’s history and treasures are priceless; if lost, the whole world loses.


  4. I’m afraid I don’t get out to the museums as much as I would like to. It’s an embarassament of riches here; the fact is that few of us take advantage of all of the arts available here.

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