Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

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Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

“Much will be written and said about the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum in the future; we will simply be able to say that we built it.’   Juan Ramón Pérez, Works Manager for the Guggenheim Museum and Head of Building for the Basque country.

 Humans tend to be fascinated by several sights and places.  We see pictures and videos of those places we want to visit. And then we go.

The Guggenheim is bigger and bolder than I thought it would be. I had a window view and it is as peaceful to me as looking at the sea.

It is one of those rare works of contemporary architecture that dazzle the world with its modern styling and intricate structure. It is located in Northern Spain in the city of Bilbao, an industrial port encircled by the green mountains in Basque Country.  The museum stands right next to the banks of the Nervión River that flows through Bilbao down to the Cantabrian Sea. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao features exhibits and works of artists from all over the world.

The glittering titanium museum is designed by Frank Gehry, an award-winning Canadian-American architect. When he was chosen by Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation as the architect, Thomas Krens, its director, asked him to design the museum extraordinarily. Gehry surely exceeded their expectations. The construction took place from 1993 to September, 1997. On October 18, 1997, the former of King of Spain, King Juan Carlos I, inaugurated the museum. When it was first introduced, the design awed the critics as well as the public. After its immediate and immense success, many similar buildings popped up all around the world.

 Gehry is known for a number of renowned architectural designs including Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.

One might say that the artistic contents and exhibits of the museum are not as impressive as the structure of the building itself. To be honest, it would not be wrong. People from all over the globe  pay a visit to the museum to witness the avant-garde structure that they have heard so much about. It is on the Northern route of the Camino de Santiago and the pilgrims usually make a stop at the museum.

There are no photos allowed  inside the museum.  This is good because it give me a chance to enjoy the works in a more relax and peaceful way instead of busily taking pictures.  Sometimes I do wonder why I need to take so many photos and whether  I miss anything by doing this.

The urban building is covered in glass, titanium, and limestone. The exterior structure feature random curves and hurls that catch and throw the lights while the interior is built around a huge, lighted atrium offering picturesque views of Bilbao’s river banks and the mountainous greenery of the Basque country.

The building spans an area of 32,500-square-meters (350,000 sq. ft.) The exhibition area has nineteen galleries. 

You will be surprised to know that the museum was built on a strict time limit and budget.  Gehry said he ensured that he had an accurate estimate of the budget, and that no political and business interests interfered with the project. Furthermore, he used his own software, Digital Project, to create detailed computer visualizations and teamed up with the individual building trades to cut down the costs.

Immediately after opening, the museum became a popular tourist attraction.  The taxes collected from the hotels, restaurants, shops and transport itself has more than paid for the building cost.

The  “Bilbao effect” refers to how the museum transformed the city.   This is amazing because before the museum, Bilbao was just a faded industrial town.

My trip to Spain and Portugal started in Bilbao – a bucket list place for me.  It was a more expensive trip than usual and I struggled with the decision to do it. But I believe that you should invest in your life for the things you love. I have no regret for this decision. Life should be spontaneous and without too much thought. Just go. The memories will be worth it.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Museums In Tel Aviv, Israel

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Museums In Tel Aviv

“We used to build temples, and museums are about as close as secular society dares to go in facing up to the idea that a good building can change your life (and a bad one ruin it).” Alain de Botton

Tel Aviv is an outdoor city with beautiful soft sandy beaches, flea markets, food and craft markets and alfresco dining most of the year.

This time I was there in January and February. The first ten days were particularly cold and rainy so I spent some time exploring a few museums.

I’ve written about the Tel Aviv Museum Of Art designed by Preston Scott Cohen before. If you are into architecture as I am you will love the building.

It is located in central Tel Aviv within a Cultural Complex inside a beautiful park.

My god-daughter lives nearby. In a city where everything closes on Saturday, this museum is open.

We walk passed the families in the playground and through the skateboarders to the entrance. The temporary exhibits are always interesting. The one I wanted to see was called Total Red which was photography from early twentieth century Soviet Photographers. Pastel, the museum’s restaurant i is beautiful and delicious.

Visiting Eretz Israel Museum in the rain is probably not the best way to see it. It is a collection of several pavilions and excavations spread out all over.

The focus is on culture and history. When I travel and do large museums, I usually just pick a few exhibits to see, Otherwise it is too overwhelming.

I love photography so I went to those exhibits.

There was one about life in the internment camps in Cyprus where the Holocaust survivor were kept until Israel became a nation.

And another about the Italian ship captain that brought refugees to Israel.

I also watched a film on how Baron de Rothschild helped Israel grow. The restaurant is delicious and the gift store is one of the best in Tel Aviv for art and crafts.

Exodus was one of my favorite TV movies when I was very young.  Paul Newman played Ari Ben Canaan who was the head of the Haganah. I was always interested in them. The Haganah was the military organization that protected the Jewish settlements in Palestine.

It was the predecessor to the Israeli Defense Forces.

The Haganah Museum is located on beautiful Rothschild Blvd in the house of one of the Haganah founders.

It traces the story from the earliest watchtowers to the struggle for independence to the development of the modern army.

You will see many troops of Israeli soldiers being brought there on field trips.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

Israeli Museum In Jerusalem

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Israeli Museum in Jerusalem.

“Art is only relevant, if it asks the most critical questions and expresses emotions with an innocent eye.” Ai Wei Wei

The Israeli Museum in Jerusalem is the largest museum in the Middle East.

It is located near the Knesset (government), the Israeli Supreme Court and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

One of the highlights in the museum collection is the Shrine of the Book which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. The white roof of the building emulates the lid of a Qumran jar where they were found. Upon entering this incredible cave-like display you feel like you are actually in one of the Qumran jars.

The scrolls are the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world, and were found near the Qumran area in eleven different caves over a ten-year period (1946-1956). The age and scope of these amazing scrolls basically proved the authenticity of our modern Bible’s Old Testament.

Upon arrival there was an added bonus, an exhibit by one of my favorite artists, Ai Wei Wei. It was an odd choice of country for the pro Palestinian Chinese artist. In the age of fake news and the manipulation of truth, the timely exhibit is called Maybe/Maybe Not. The money from the exhibit goes to an Israeli Palestinian relief fund. It features large-scale works such as part of his “Sunflower Seeds” installation featuring millions of seeds made from porcelain, weighing some 23 tons. (sorry, no flash)


Wallpaper across part of  the exhibition depicts the plight of refugees while mixing in classical images, giving it the look of a frieze from ancient Greece.


His “Soft Ground” installation has particular resonance for Israel.  It is a hand-woven carpet that replicates the floor of the Haus Der Kunst in Munich, commissioned by the Third Reich for the display of Nazi-approved art.

Everything at closer inspection was not what it seemed. There were self portraits made of legos,

chandeliers made of surveillance cameras

and a selfie taken through mirror when he was being arrested in China.

Iron trees are “planted” at the museum.

They are made from casts of parts of trees from Southern China and part of series that started in 2009.

Were the porcelain cups real or fake?

Even the artist himself raises questions. Ai Wei Wei is one of the richest artists in the world.  He is a Chinese dissident who had his passport taken away  by his government but he can travel freely throughout the world. Is what we are told true? Is what we see real? Maybe or Maybe Not. (middle finger all over the world)

Fly safe,

JAZ

Yad Vashem, Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem

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Yad Vashem, Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem

“A country is not just what it does – it is also what it tolerates.’
Kurt Tucholsky (quote on the wall as you enter)

Yad Vashem is Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. I had been here many years ago. I knew what to expect. I went again now because I am going to visit Auschwitz in the spring. It was a winter weekday afternoon and the museum was not as crowded as usual. No photos are allowed. I knew what to expect and yet I was once again newly affected by the inhumanity of systematic cruelty.

The Holocaust History Museum was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, and occupies over 4,200 square meters. This museum takes you on a journey through in-depth displays telling the story of the Holocaust. There is a ten and half hour guided audio tour. You choose what you want to listen to. In many cases, the photos are enough.

Yad Vashem, means “a place and a name” in Hebrew and comes from the Book of Isaiah. It refers to the millions who were not given the dignity of a Jewish burial with a specified burial plot.

The chilling Hall of Names is a memorial to each and every Jew who perished in the Holocaust, housing an extensive collection of over two million “Pages of Testimony” – short biographies of each Holocaust victim, with room for six million in all.

Yad Vashem also recognizes and honors a number of non-Jewish people who helped save Jews during this bleak period. These heroes are called The Righteous Among The Nations.

The Children’s Memorial is located in an underground cave, enveloping you in darkness.

As your eyes adjust, you can make out flames of light representing the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust.

Recorded voices call out the names and ages of these innocent souls. A few days later there is another school killing spree in the United States.

I return to the hotel. On Israeli news that day, they report that Poland has passed a law making it a criminal offence to suggest that “the Polish nation” was in any way responsible for the murder of six million Jews. I spent a long time in the Polish section of the museum as I will be going to those places. There were photos of Polish people “colluding” and stories of Jews being reported by their neighbors. Three million Jews died in Poland – more than any other country.

It is impossible to visit the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem and not be moved, horrified and ashamed. How does this story relate to the present? It began with words, indifference and silence. Indifference and inaction never help the victims. It is our responsibility to speak for the children, the elderly, the abused women, the poor and the refugees. “Whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe.”

Fly safe,

JAZ