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Last month, I set off to Southeastern Turkey on the trail of two emerging tourism treasures that are just beginning to register this off-the-path corner of the country on the radars of world travelers. First and foremost, the still-under-excavation ruins of Göbekli Tepe are believed to be the world’s oldest temple (predating Stonehenge by some 6,000 years) – a finding that is changing the way we view human history. Nearby, the impressive Zeugma Mosaics Museum debuted last year in Gaziantep as the largest mosaics museum in the world, showcasing wonderfully intact and intricate Roman period mosaics, dating back some two millennia. Read more
It’s been 25 years since I was in Moscow, when I was a student of the Russian language. I wanted to return to see all the changes since the end of Communism. To start off with some context, nothing is better than a visit to The State Central Museum of Contemporary Russian History, which is commonly known by its former name, the Museum of the Revolution.
Actually the name should be plural because it covers Russia’s three 20th-century revolutions. There is the 1905 Democratic Revolution, which led to the Tsar abdicating and the election of the Duma, or parliament. World War I began, which greatly damaged the government’s credibility and helped lead to the second revolution in 1917, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, shot their way into power. Lenin ushered in his policies of state planning and the collectivization of farming. The museum does a great job of reviewing the good, the bad, and the ugly of this period in history. Lastly, there was the third revolution (albeit a peaceful one) when Gorbachev introduced Perestroika and began the unraveling of the USSR and communism. Read more
Besides navigating their way through the winding streets of Venice or LA’s daunting six-lane highways, Droid users can now get step-by-step directions indoors with new maps for over 20 U.S. museums on the latest version of the Google Maps app. D.C.’s Smithsonian reaps the largest reward. Seventeen of its museums, with 2.7 million square feet of space (60 football fields), are now navigable using the app. Droid users simply zoom into the building and the interior map will appear. A toggle on the right allows users to choose which floor they are on. The maps show markers for restrooms, food courts, stairways, and exhibits. The flashing blue dot, your electronic compass, will now be your guide as you take the kids on a bathroom break at the National Zoo or find the Wright Brothers’ plane at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Just make sure to shift your eyes from the blue dot to the 45.53 carat blue-violet Hope Diamond when you’re at the Museum of Natural History.
Today’s local deal earns you entry for two to the Columbus Circle museum – a $30 value – as well as 10 percent off purchases of unique craft and design items at The Store.
Enjoy MAD’s thoughtfully curated collections, in its charmingly intimate and light-filled galleries, independently or on a guided tour conducted by one of its knowledgeable docents. The museum features ever-changing thematic exhibitions of contemporary art and design, along with a dedicated jewelry gallery, with both temporary and permanent exhibitions of jewels on view, and Open Studios where artists work in residence. After your visit, stay for a meal at upscale Robert, which features modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean twist and overlooks Central Park. Read more
Last night I went to an event hosted by the inimitable Diane Von Furstenberg at her downtown studio. She’s teamed up with the new Red Star Line Museum, opening in Antwerp, Belgium (grand opening, spring 2013), to bring a little pizazz to a project the Belgium-born designer is passionate about. The Red Star Shipping Line transported some 2.6 million emigrants to the U.S. between 1873 and 1934, including Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin, and Arthur Murray (a few descendants inconspicuously roamed around DVF’s studio last night). The museum, which can be likened to Ellis Island, will bring the long abandoned buildings back to life with interactive exhibits and installations. (In fact, the architectural firm redesigning the complex is the same that renovated the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.) Yet the night’s focal point, aside from Diane and her exquisitely colorful space (sorry, fashionista talking), was a large poster board of an unidentified young girl sitting at the RSL station. Antwerp Vice-Mayor Philip Heylen announced the launch of a nationwide “do you know this girl?” campaign in an effort to discover her identity and arouse attention from the masses – perhaps one of your ancestors came over on the RSL? The contest winner will receive a trip for two to Antwerp and a $1,000 DVF shopping spree, which the designer added to the pot last night. Read more
The sleek new Salvador Dalí Museum, which opened January 11 in St. Petersburg, Florida, was designed by Yann Weymouth of Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum. Overlooking Tampa Bay, the structure marries solid concrete with twisting geodesic glass reminiscent of the Louvre’s pyramid. (Indeed, Weymouth worked with I.M. Pei on that Paris landmark.)
The structure houses some 2,140 pieces; most were acquired by A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, an Ohio couple who befriended Salvador and Gala Dalí in the 1940s. For decades the couple displayed hundreds of works in their Cleveland home and then in nearby Beachwood, Ohio, before donating the collection in 1982. The cache landed in a converted one-story warehouse, the first incarnation of the St. Pete museum.
I must admit that when arriving in Stuttgart I was expecting a – how shall I say – not particularly pretty city. For some reason, I just hadn’t heard much about it. And I thought it had been heavily bombed in WWII, ultimately giving rise to something modern but not appealing. I was wrong.
The city, while heavily damaged by the middle of 1945, was rebuilt in a way to preserve its old character. While it did lose a lot of wonderful old structures, Stuttgart successfully built a series of beautiful city parks (all connected by a smart series of bridges), boasts several Bauhaus civic buildings, and painfully reconstructed many 18th- and 19th-century facades. There are pretty squares, parks, and pedestrian zones that dot the city. In fact, it has the longest pedestrian shopping zone in all of Germany.
Satisfy your inner samurai this winter and say “Ohaiyou!” to Japan with exclusive new packages from gay pal American Airlines, especially when they start flying direct into Tokyo Haneda airport, shaving an hour off the transfer from distant Narita.
Book by December 31 and travel between January 11 and February 28, 2011 for only $899 (plus tax/international fees) round-trip economy per person from Los Angeles including at least a three-night and up to six consecutive night stay at a three-star hotel. Airfare is near that much on it’s own, so it’s like getting the (typically expensive) hotel for free! Fly nonstop to Narita from Chicago for $60 more, Dallas for $110, and New York‘s JFK for only $100 more – including the Haneda route beginning January 20. Prices are per person, based on double-occupancy. Read more
On November 20, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s much-anticipated Art of the Americas Wing officially opened to the public, and locals and visitors can’t get enough. When I visited the museum last weekend, the galleries were packed with people and there was a line outside of those just waiting to buy tickets. The new 121,000-square-foot wing – a project five years in the making – displays 5,000 works from the MFA’s collection.
The new American galleries showcase everything from Native American crafts to Paul Revere silver to 20th-century Abstract paintings. Standout pieces include the extensive John Singer Sargent collection on level 2 and the enormous “Passage of the Delaware” by Thomas Sully. The first-floor galleries were specially designed to fit the latter painting (shown above), which measures over 12 feet in height; this is the first time the painting has been displayed in its original frame.
While the JW Marriott just barely misses the number one spot in ShermansTravel.com’s current Houston hotel rankings, the property is easily the top pick for families this fall with a package running through the end of the year with rates starting at $189 a night. Two grownups will not only dine at the breakfast buffet free for each day of their stay (kids under 12 eat as well as stay free, too) but will also get free adult admissions to the Children’s Museum of Houston (www.cmhouston.org), one of the better hands-on kids museums anywhere. Being as you’re in a state that makes lots of buildings and energy, two popular exhibits here focus on construction and hydropower. Not as expected are two new interactive areas that’ll give the kids glimpses of what life is like in Hangzhou, China and Oaxaca, Mexico. Read more
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