you may not know…
Pavilion of Japanese Art - Though the collection on view is always lovely, for me it is more about the quality of light captured in this building. The translucent panels, lucite handrails, brass fixtures, scalloped ceiling, soft carpeting and organic shaped pathways of this Bruce Goff building all create the most calming place in all of LA. *Sadly the pavilion is closed for renovations. But be sure to visit when it reopens.
Museum of Jurassic Technology - The museum maintains its charm and intrigue, though it needs a little TLC. Built in 1988 by a husband and wife, this museum is part artistic, scientific, ethnographic, historic, and just straight up curiously odd. Being there makes you question how we are conditioned to act in museums, and what we are told to believe. Don’t miss the rooftop courtyard and Russian Tea room.
Marianne North Gallery at the Kew Gardens - In the early 1800’s Marianna North traveled to some of the most remote jungles and deserts to make botanical illustrations, 800 of which this museum has on display in floor to ceiling row upon row. It’s an incredible and beautiful collection. And you can wonder the gardens and temperate houses after.
Dennis Severs' House - This is by far the most unique museum experiences I have ever had. No talking. No photos. A house entirely set up in still life, telling the story of what life was like for a fictional silk weaving family from 1725 to 1919. Each floor is from a different era, with rooms set up as if someone just left them: pots on the stove, the smell of wax and bread baking, letters being written, clothes drying by the fire. It is incredible, and intimate, and you won’t be disappointed. Get ready to be transported. Make a reservation.
La Specola Zoological Museum - If taxidermy and cadavers aren’t your thing then skip this museum. Not what you would expect while visiting Florence, but the science and art lover in me who in high school thought about being a medical illustrator loves this strange museum. It houses over 3 million animals and has one of the largest anatomical wax collection’s in the world. Where else can you see Medici’s preserved pet hippopotamus?
Morandi Museum - In art school I fell in love with Morandi, and while in Italy in 2002 I took a train to see his museum in the charming city of Bologna. I love love love museums where the artist’s home or studio are still in tact. It’s incredible revealing about the artist themselves and the art they made. Here you can see his studio which includes the collection of bottles and vases he used in his many paintings and studies. Spotting one I recognized from a painting was like a celebrity sighting.
The Galerie des Bijoux at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs - When I lived in Paris I made it a mission to try to see all the museums the city had to offer. This was one I continue to revisit every time I return. It is small but impeccably put together, it offers 1200 of the most astonishing pieces of jewelry from the middle ages up to the present. It is like being in a dream jewelry box.
Musée Gustave Moreau - I also revisit this wonderful museum - once quiet and almost empty before the age of Instagram. The original home of Gustave Moreau, a few of the rooms have been preserved, his enchanting salon sitting room amongst them, while the rest of the home has been converted into galleries. Most rooms have warm pink walls with floor to ceiling works (over 1,200), one houses a beautiful double spiral staircase, and wall-to-wall vertical draws you can pull out to see pastels, watercolors and drawings.
Brâncuși's Studio - Though this museum is fairly well known now, I could not leave it out as it is small and unique and there is inspiration to be found in every corner. Right outside the Pompidou sits this elegant Renzo Piano building which houses the studio of Brancusi. See sculptures in the works, tools hanging, custom doorways he built in his space, all under the filtered light of the Parisian sky.
The Frick Collection - In the states it’s rare that we have museums set up in once private residence. The Frick is unique in that its rooms can house both the fine and decorative arts together, as the works would have intended to be experience, living side by side. The highlight for me in this upper East Side home is seeing Fragonard’s The Progress of Love. He is one of my favorite painters and this is one of the most important works of the Rococo period. Don’t miss the lovely courtyard garden.
Noguchi Museum - Worth the trip to Queens to see this breathtaking collection. Renovated and newly open in 2004, this space houses some of the most impressive sculptures from Noguchi. I can count on my hand the number of times I have cried in front of a work of art, and being in this space was one of them. Impressive. Inspiring. Moving.
Georgia O’Keeffe Home & Studio - There is a theme developing - artists homes and studios. Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico does not disappoint. To try to describe why her home is a dream home will always fall short. She set up her home in the way she liked to live, simply and with intention. I love her mix of mid century furniture and sensibility with local southwest crafts. Her garden irrigation system is also revolutionary. Her spirit still lives here and you can feel it.
Donald Judd La Mansana de Chinati / The Block - Another incredibly inspiring artists home / studio space. Again, Judd set up his home to be conducive for how he liked to live and work. He often liked to lay in bed and look at his work or read, so in every studio / gallery space you will find a bed. His library is incredible (long before the days of the internet). And his home is one that nurtures community with his huge kitchen, ready for a communal meal. Totally inspiring!
AIX EN PROVENCE
Cézanne’s Studio - If I could capture the smell of Cézanne’s studio I would wear it as a perfume: a mix of lavender from the summer fields, mineral spirits and oil paint, worn in wood, fresh linen for canvases, and warm air filled with the scent of cypress trees and honey. Nestled on the Lauves hill in Aix en Provence Cézanne’s studio is almost entirely intact. Stand in silence in an attempt to reveal the mysteries of this man and his work. I never wanted to leave.