February 22, 2009

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York City

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 11:06 am by classicalmusic

Here’s a museum that you may never have guessed existed. It’s the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. This collection of all things comic is located in the heart of New York City. Not only does it host an ever changing series of comic exhibits, but there are weekly events such as speakers, panel discussions, and comic workshops.

You may wonder why bother? What could be important about an old Batman comic or a Ritchie Rich series? Well, comics can actually tell us a lot more about historic time periods than other sources. that’s because comics really reflect contemporary values in an honest, non-judgmental way. But when you visit, you will have top decide for yourself.

The collections are kept in mint condition so that they can be enjoyed for generations of comic fans and historians. According to the museum’s website: “The museum’s rigid collection policy ensures that the art collections are maintained in an environment of the highest integrity.”

Another important subject that is skillfully presented is the way comics have changed and evolved over time. Once, comics were a prime source of entertainment. Where do they fit in today when our lives are crowded with high tech options such as Internet, video on demand, and smart phones? The museum shows how the comic art form may be changing, but it’s not going away anytime soon.

Plan on at least two hours to see the exhibits and more time if you have a research project. For serious historians, call ahead and book an appointment with one of the curators. If you are hungry, there is a great coffee shop very close by.


February 15, 2009

Steamtown National Train Museum, Scranton PA

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 7:20 am by classicalmusic

If you are interested in classic steam powered trains, you should visit the Steam town National Train Museum in Scranton, PA. This vast museum has two huge exhibits: the indoor rail yard and the outdoor classic trains. Set aside at least three hours if you want to do both. If you are brining kids, set aside four. In fact, whenever you want to go home, you will have to drag them away.

There is something about seeing a huge steam powered locomotive up close that takes your breath away. Inside the rail yard, there are about thirty examples of locomotives and passenger cars from days gone by. Many of them are open and you can walk through and see how the old rail men lived and worked on board these giants. You learn a bit of history too as the descriptions tell about how important steam trains were to opening the Western United States.

When you finish with the rail yard, walk across the street for some real fun. First, you can go through President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous Presidential rail car. Then, check the schedule because every half an hour, an actual steam train goes on about a 5 miles scenic ride. Tickets are only a few bucks and everyone will have an amazing time.

The train museum is a real gem. Few people know about it but it is one of the best organized museums I have ever visited. Make sure to plan a family stop in Scranton next time you are in the area.

February 8, 2009

Cats at the Eretz Israel Museum

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 8:08 am by classicalmusic

Disappointing Cats
The much advertised exhibition on cats at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv was quite a disappointment when I finally was able to see it. Because it had been advertised on the radio and in the newspapers as an “interactive” exhibition about cats and the people connected with them, I was expecting something a bit more exciting.

I am not a “cat person”, therefore I must admit that I did learn something about the various kinds or species of cats. But I went with someone who is a great cat lover, has a large cat library and has owned cats all her life. She found nothing new or of great interest there. The exhibition is not large and as for the “interactive” part of it, it is almost non-existent.

The only really interesting section, to me, was the explanation of the Egyptian worship of cats and their goddess, Bast. I had not known this about the Eqyptians and found the cat burial graves and the cat mummies quite an eye opener. As for the rest of it, the cat cartoons, the videos of international cat shows, and art works about and with cats, were not particularly enlightening.

All told – a disappointing visit to this museum which is usually a lovely place to visit.

February 1, 2009

The Cathedral of Orvieto

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:55 am by classicalmusic

The Duomo of Orvieto
The charming hilltown of Orvieto in Umbria, Italy, contains a duomo (cathedral) which is a magnificent example of the Romanesque-Gothic style of architecture. It was begun in the year 1290 and more than 100 architects, sculptors, painters and mosaicists took part in its construction which was only completed in the year 1600. The facade is a glittering and sumptuous splendor of sculptures, multi-colored marbles and golden mosaics. Seen in bright sunlight it is absolutely dazzling.

But the facade is not all. Inside in its chapel, called the Cappella della Madonna di San Brizio, are a series of frescoes portraying the Apocalypse. They were begun in 1447 by the painter Fra Angelico and then given over to the great Luca Signorelli in 1499 who completed them in 1504 accoding to Fra Angelico’s plans. The human figure was Signorelli’s main interest, and, with his careful portrayal of the human anatomy, he composed figures of such dramatic dimensions and powerful emotion that it is said that Michelangelo was inspired by these frescoes in some of his paintings of the Sistine Chapel.

If you are fortunate enough to visit the chapel when there is a guide to explain the frescoes, you will find it a most rewarding experience.