Archive for ‘exhibitions’

May 30, 2011

Incredible presentation of New York Harbour maritime urbanism

Worth checking out for the slides alone. This, I think, just might be what I do next: from the waterfront urban studies.

Christina Sun’s presentation for Coastlink’s Hamburg conference, on New York and the Hudson. Scroll down for grain elevators, disused factories and overloaded skiffs.

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February 22, 2011

roman villa in Shropshire, a reconstruction

So this rebuild of a Roman villa in Shropshire makes me question a bunch of things.

First, it’s really not very appealing. I see what they’re doing, with the various building methods and layers exposed, somewhat a la Knossos, and the (mostly) eschewing flashy tourist-pandering details. There’s no references to gladiators or lion taming here. The “shop” sells candles. But. I have no real desire to visit it. I think I know exactly what I’m going to find when I do, and what I’ll find is a testament to how little we really know about Roman daily life. It does a great job of de-exoticising Rome, but in its place it puts the kinds of timbers you can find at MFI. So it makes me question the place of entertainment, and of Hollywood pizazz, in all this. Should the truth get in the way of good presentation?

Second, they built the house as a standard Mediterranean Roman villa – there’s an intriguing hint that they don’t know how Romans might have adapted to local conditions. Or building methods/materials. So it’s really not a Shropshire house, as such. Makes me question what sort of truth is being preserved here – and whether our ignorance is being accurately modeled after all.

Third, the fabric of the house itself is considered carefully, the furniture not so much. And the paintings on the walls, dear god. The rattan chair may be possible in Rome, but it’s also very clearly post 1930 contract furniture. The 3 sofas of the triclinum are clearly improvised. The candles in the “shop” make it look like a stall at Glastonbury festival. So that makes me question their focus. Because a reconstruction like this is inevitably a gesamtwerk, whether its creators recognise that or not.

Also via history blog.

February 2, 2011

Museum virtual tours courtesy of google

The History Blog calls these “the world’s best museums.” Which is just asking for trouble. It’s a very good collection, though, including teasers* of the Rijksmuseum, the Uffizi, the Hermitage(!), the Met, the National Gallery in London, the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, MoMA, the Tate…

Google art project.

In retrospect it was obvious. Now I want to see all the in-gallery interactives at the museums of natural history and science and the aquaria and imaginaria reproduced on the web.

There’s another thing, though: of course this reminds me of Giordano Bruno‘s memory palaces (and the Frick is a joy in a sea of bare walls, from that perspective), but as a method of library resource navigation (which is really what the web is, right?) it’s downright peculiar. Why would the museum’s collection be arranged in these rooms, if not to aid wandering and casual connection-making? If you know which artwork you want to see, is this a good interface? And it points up the disconnect between virtual touring and actual touring like nothing else. And the metadata, as usual, are troubling: who’s going to look for Rembrandt under “van Rijn, Rembrandt Harmensz.”?

Still, it’s an amazing thing. Thank you, google. Again.

* the Rijksmuseum contains only 9 rooms including the gift shop and 20 works in their “other works in this museum” section, and the collection shown does not include works in the “masterpieces of the Rijksmuseum” show they’ve had up during renovations. To really get a sense of the selection, though, check out the Hermitage floorplan, which includes the Rembrandt hall, mysteriously devoid of Rembrandts.

November 1, 2010

flickr 2: models of the musee national de la marine, paris

So I finally made it to the National Maritime Museum in Paris (Palais de Chaillot, a remnant of Paris’ own “white city” of 1889, still linked to the Eiffel Tower) to see the remarkable and oddly moving Tous Les Bateaux Du Monde, (no direct stable link! look over on the left side for a link, at least until the current expo is over…) and I was struck dumb by the collection of models of ironclads on the floor above.

It made me think of steampunk, and the improvisational nature of invention. It also made me aware of the Jules Verne Trophy (which is made mostly from aluminium, floats on magnetic repulsion and is based on the radii of the Earth, the moon and the sun – it’s the most geekycool object I’ve seen in some time, and it’s awarded to whoever sets the world record for sailing around the world in the shortest time).

Also of incredible interest: a trio of tiny dioramas showing how the obelisk in Place de la Concorde was transported from Egypt. And a bunch of other models made out of god knows what. And this Japanese boat with accompanying (unique, I think) 19th century plans and sections.

May 10, 2010

ship paintings

sailingwarship.com – partly sourced pictures of wooden ships in all European traditions. Links to big images

lib-art.com – search by artist, genre. Peeters (linked) has several storm pictures.

NMM collections – exhibitions are worth going through, as well as “search by type.” See esp. van de Velde drawings,

April 20, 2010

Tous les bateaux du monde

On now at Musee de la Marine, Paris

virtual exhibition here (nicely done). Organised by Eric Reith, with some consultation from Pierre-Yves Manguin.

March 23, 2010

Ship models from the national maritime museum, Paris

nice set of photos taken in Quebec, when the models were traveling there. Includes a xebec, a flemish galliot and a nice galley, alongside the usual 60, 74 and 100 gun warships.

Musee national de la Marine in the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. Must go there next time I’m in town…