Saturday, July 23, 2011

Boston 2011 - Day 2, Part 1: Museum of Fine Art

Previously: Boston 2011 - Day 1: Arrival

More cold and rain greeted us for our first full day in Beantown. DH and I only had one pair of jeans each, and I had thrown a second pair for Luke in the suitcase at the very last minute. Again, the high was only supposed to be about 60F/15.5C all day. In June?! Still, given all the walking we were doing with no car, I'd prefer too cold over too warm any day (and we had that theory proven to us later in the week!). As predicted, Luke was up early, though not insanely so (if you consider 630 AM not insane), and we were breakfasting in Mom and Dad's room before 7.

Our first stop for the day was the Museum of Fine Art. It was truly one of those pleasant surprises of our 2003 trip, and I really thought everyone would enjoy it. And we did, once they let us inside. They had us queueing outside in the cold and rain for several minutes "to let the inside line die down some." I assumed that meant that they were completely packed out in the lobby, and I was dismayed. Turns out, they had *plenty* of internal queue available, but they didn't want it "looking too full." Um, excuse me, you'd rather us wait in the cold and rain than ruin the asthetic?!! THIS is what happens when you let artists run things, sheesh! (They also had one of the worst maps known to man inside; way more artsy than useful.)

I had a couple of main targets for Luke while we were there, including the music room (he's been asking lots of questions about musical instruments recently). The fourth photo below is a hurdy gurdy, and we actually saw someone playing one outside the Old State House later in the trip!

There was a really neat collection of model ships on the lower floor.

And there was also the the "Ancient Cultures" area:

A.k.a. the mummy stuff!

Luke thought that was pretty cool. It even held his interest slightly longer than I expected. They had other ancient cultures on display as well, but believe it or not, I am trying to limit the pictures a little. But I did want to show this one in particular, as it has special meaning for me.

To quote part of the sign accompanying this lion:
Lion from the Processional Way
Colored glazed tiles

Iraq (Babylon), Neo-Babylonian Period, reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, 604-561 BC

In the 1890s, German archaeologists excavated at Babylon 120 tile reliefs of striding lions - sacred to the goddess Ishtar - that had decorated the walls along the Processional Way, leading from the Ishtar Gate to the temple tower of the god Marduk, Babylon's chief god. (It was this tower that inspired the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel.)
So why do I think this is a big deal? I've seen the wall this lion came from in another museum! The rest of the Ishtar Gate is housed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. I saw it in person back in 1995 when I went on a choir tour of Germany. (Remember, Leah?) It is actually one of the few things I remember distinctly about the museum, and as soon as I laid eyes on this lion, I knew exactly what it was from. I'm sure I have photos of the gate somewhere, but they are likely buried in the basement at the moment. Google Pergamon Museum and pictures of the Ishtar Gate will show up. Anyway, it was just amazing to me to have seen the whole gate with "replica" animals in it over 15 years ago (that hurt to type), then to see an original animal all these years later, in Boston of all places.

However, the star attraction that made this museum visit a must was in the basement.

I wish I had a photo of my mom's face when she saw the banners in front of the museum announcing the Chihuly glass exhibit. She was *so* excited! I'm so glad I kept it a secret and was able to surprise them. If you have no idea who/what Chihuly is, just keep reading. For the record, it was near impossible to cull these photos! I've whittled it down to these few (yes, few!), with a montage of lots more at the end. All photos in this post (and all of these Boston posts) are a mix of those taken by my parents and me, with even the occasional shot from my husband. Hope you enjoy!

I absolutely *love* the shadows cast on the wall by that chandelier. It was huge, by the way. Not sure the photo conveys that very accurately. See the spikes on the tree? You can get a fair idea of the size of them with the people in the photo. Okay, the spikes in the red chandelier were at least half again as big, maybe twice. Huge! Next up was the boat.

Again, I feel like some of the scale is lost. I would guess the boat is at least 15 feet (5m) long, likely longer. That blue flower in close up was about the size of a dinner plate (10-ish inches (25 cm) or so across). Next was a room full of vases. I got Luke in frame on one of those to show scale, but he is a good 6 feet (2m) behind it.

These were really neat. They remind me so much of ocean creatures; I imagine that was intentional but I don't really know. With us having to follow Luke around, making sure he didn't touch anything and that he didn't get too bored, I didn't get to read all the info about each piece. (Actually, I'm not sure I got to read anything!) They were also packed. I had forgotten that it was Sunday when I planned our visit, and I couldn't figure out why there were so many people there on a weekday.

Then came this huge room just full of huge glass pieces. I call it the garden. I think Mom is the only person who made it down the far side, though I think they were largely similar/symmetrical.

Next up was the ceiling. I could have stayed in this room all day long. I would guess that it was at least 16x20 feet (5m x 6m), maybe larger. Walking into a white walled room after so many completely black rooms was a bit of an adjustment, but so beautiful. Even Luke was fascinated for a while. With all the glass, all the light, and all the people, it was terribly hot in there as well.

The next room is full of what I think of when someone says Chihuly, these squiggling shapes. There were six of these hanging pieces, though one of them no one in the family really liked, so there were only 4 or 5 photos of it, none of which are included here (Mom said it reminded her of guts, and she would know; she works for a GI doctor! LOL). The smallest was over 6 feet (2m) tall.

Luke liked the blue one best.

And I think this yellow one was my personal favorite, though it was much higher in the air, so it was more difficult to photograph.

As you exited (into the gift shop, of course, which was *packed* with people and way overheated), this was the last piece on display. Very serene and lovely, but frankly, not the most impressive piece in the world.

Still, the Chihuly glass alone was worth the visit, and the other things were simply icing on the cake. You can see more photos on this montage, if you're interested.

After the glass, it was time to eat. There is a cafe set up right in the main courtyard of the museum. We checked the menu, and it was terribly expensive, serving mostly things that I couldn't pronounce. For goodness sake, people, I have a 6 year old! Is there no where in this gigantic museum to get normal food? Turns out that yes, there is. It was the Garden Cafeteria, and other than being a total pain to find, it was pretty good. A bit overpriced, but we expected that, and close (i.e. not out walking in the rain) was more important at the time. It was also full of the waiters for the froufrou restaurant we had passed up! LOL I consider that a pretty good sign. We had pizza and hot dogs, and they were quite good, though Dad does *not* recommend the ballpark mustard.

Sadly, we had only barely scratched the surface of what this museum has to offer. We didn't do any of the left side of the museum, and we never made it to the second or third floors. You could easily spend the entire day there, likely two, and still not see it all. But there is only so much "look at the pretty things" Luke can do before he goes crazy, so we needed to find something more interactive and/or stimulating for him that afternoon. Like the Museum of Science! But that's another post....

Continue Reading: Boston 2011 - Day 2, Part 2: Museum of Science

Currently feeling: amazed


  1. Amazing indeed!!! And now I know (or I think I do) what the weird thing is that hangs in the entrance hall of the V&A in london.... :)

  2. YAY!!! I was right - thanks Erin! have a look here...

  3. Erin!!
    I knew exactly what the lion was without having to read your caption. It brought back so many wonderful memories. I loved that museum, and the gate is the one thing still burned in my memory. 15 years? really? must you mention that... I have a scrapbook from that trip somewhere, which means I probably have the negatives too. I should get those put on a disc (as long as I edit out any pictures of me from high school, lol!). Thanks for such a wonderful memory. I must go to BOSTON!

  4. Love, love, LOVE the Chihuly pictures - as you knew I would! When we visited his hot shop and personal quarters in Seattle, we were told that a "small" chandelier started at $250,000, and that was in 2007.

    I smile every time I look at the two pieces of waste glass Hayley brought home from our trip; they're priceless in our eyes.


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