Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Beyond Art: Great Entertainment at 10 Top New York City Museums

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Breaking the Waves, Works & Process,
The Gugg
In museums all over town, there's lots more happening than the exhibits on the walls: Music, Dance & Family Fun. New York City museums have become de facto performing arts centers with exciting events, often thematically tied into what's on view. Here's a small sampling to get you started:
UPTOWN - MUSEUM MILE
The Guggenheim
1071 Fifth Ave (at 88th St); www.guggenheim.org/new-york
Throughout the year, there are several top-notch, special events, so be sure to check the Performance calendarWorks & Process: In an intimate theater space, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this performing arts series gives you the opportunity to see new works by some of the most acclaimed, international creators and performers in the world.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fuentidueña Chapel, Cloisters

1000 Firth Ave (at 82nd St); www.metmuseum.org
There is always something cultural happening at the museum from concerts to lectures to site-specific performances. 
MetLiveArts: This series offers interesting performances, commissions, and world premieres in the museum's theater. Site-specific events are set in unique gallery spaces throughout the museum.
The Met Cloisters - Concerts www.metmuseum.org/visit/met-cloisters
In the beautiful, medieval Cloisters' museum in Fort Tyron Park, concerts are held in the splendid, 12th-century Fuentidueña Chapel, with wonderful acoustics. (Concert tickets include free, same-day museum admission.)

The Jewish Museum
Don Byron Band, Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Ave (at 92nd St); www.thejewishmuseum.org
The museum offers an amazing range of cultural programs from interesting discussions with artists and curators (AM at the JM), to talks by contemporary authors and thinkers, concerts, and other performances and workshops inspired by exhibitions on view.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave (at 103rd St); www.mcny.org
This museum, devoted to New York City history, presents fascinating events and talks illuminating New York's past and imagining the city's future. Check out the Stories & Events calendar.

El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Ave (at 104th St); www.elmuseo.org
The museum focuses on Latino arts and culture. Its' bilingual programs, festivals, and special events celebrate the 
rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean and Latin America. Get ready to party! 

DOWNTOWN
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17 St; www.rmanyc.org
Jazz, Rubin

The museum, dedicated to the culture of the Himalayas, India, and neighboring regions, is also a wonderful place to see international films, hear great jazz, and be inspired by interesting talks and performances. The museum is open late on Fridays, so in addition to soaking up the culture, be sure to stop by the Café Serai/K2 Lounge; it's a neighborhood hot spot. 
Museum of Jewish Heritage
Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place; mjhnyc.org
While not as well known as The Jewish Museum, MJH, located downtown by Battery Park, presents a broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust. Hence, the engrossing programs include discussions, films, plays, and concerts that highlight the richness of Jewish culture and ideas. (There's also an Andy Goldsworthy stone garden really worth seeing and great views of the Statue of Liberty.)

Whitney
99 Gansevoort St; www.whitney.org
Terrace, Whitney
In a downtown area, recently made hip by the fabulous High Line walkway, 20th- and 21st-century American art is celebrated in the museum's new building abuzz with activity. The Whitney Biennial is one of the museum's signature events, along with an exciting, eclectic mix of performances and talks on a regular basis that are tied into current exhibits. Best feature: The "art terraces" on every level with stunning views of New York and the Hudson River. 

WESTSIDE
American Museum of Natural History
Sleepover, AMNH

Central Park West at 79th St; www.amnh.org
The museum is a treasure trove of discoveries for kids as well as adults. While you might know about all the wonderful activities for children, did you know that adults can also do "A Night at the Museum" sleepover, enjoy cocktails and conversation at the after-hours SciCafe evenings, and participate in family-fun cultural events, themed to tie-in with current exhibits? There's a lot more going on here than dinosaur bones!

BROOKLYN
Brooklyn Museum of Art
The Bang Group, BMA

200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn; www.brooklynmuseum.org
In addition to way-cool exhibits, BMA offers a variety of interesting events for adults, teens, and kids. These include talks, performances, films, and workshops that enhance the museum’s current exhibits and permanent collection. Every month, there's also free First Saturdays which usually feature music, dancing and a film, plus museum admission.

Editor's Note: Some of these wonderful, special museum events are free with admission, others require a separate ticket and/or booking in advance. Be sure to check the museum's website. And, when you enter any museum, be sure to read the signs ("suggested" admission means pay any amount not the $20+ listed). Also, many museums have free or "pay what you wish" evenings starting at around 5pm. The Metropolitan Museum is "pay what you wish" at all times; the ticket includes same-day admission to The Met Cloisters & The Met Breuer.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Germany: 10+ Artsy & Cool Reasons To Visit Muenster & Kassel

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Prinzipalmarkt, Münster
Münster (aka Muenster) and Kassel, in Germany's Westphalia region, offer culture lovers ample reasons to visit.
Two Top Art Celebrations
There's still time to experience this year's “solar art eclipse” in Germany: The contemporary art fair documenta takes place every 5 years in Kassel (until Sept 17, 2017) and the Muenster Sculpture Project is organized every 10 years (until Oct 1, 2017).
Muenster Sculpture Project (
www.skulptur-projekte.de) is not held in a museum. Instead, fantastic sculptures are strategically-placed throughout the town. Learn about the sculptures with a knowledgeable guide on a tour--bike or walking. After each Project, Muenster selects a piece to add to their public art collection. 
documenta (
www.documenta14.de) is a prestigious, contemporary art exhibition—like the Venice Biennale--held in Kassel. See them both now! Trains linking Muenster and Kassel take about two hours.
MARVELOUS MUENSTER
Münster is a lovely, university town with cobblestone streets and charming, historic buildings and churches. Even when the Sculpture Project is not taking place, it’s worth a visit. As a university town, Muenster’s full of pubs, restaurants and year-round cultural events, not to mention some fascinating history as well as a lovely lakeside area, Lake Aasee

Nicole Eisenman, Sketch for a Fountain, 
Münster (photo: Henning Rogge)
 
Getting Around: Bike - Muenster is considered the "Bike Capital of Germany" with a truly-impressive network of bicycle paths throughout the town and beyond with lots of places to rent/park bikes. Münster AudioGuide: Wander around on your own and/or download this new, helpful App.
Try the Ale and Fare
In addition to lots of bicycles and plenty of history, Muenster's got great beer and grub: Brauerei Pinkus (Kreuzstrasse 4-10; www.pinkus.de) - Be sure to sample some local beer at the bar/restaurant of Muenster’s oldest brewery (1816).
Altes Gasthaus Leve (Alter Steinweg 37; www.gasthaus-leve.de) - Enjoy regional specialties at Muenster’s oldest restaurant (1607).
Prinzipalmarkt, Münster 
See the Historic Sights
Rathaus - Town Hall (Prinzipalmarkt 10; http://bit.ly/2gmtb2e) - Now designated a European Heritage site, in 1648, the Peace of Westphalia treaty was signed here, ending the Thirty Years War. It's open to the public to view the Friedenssaal (Hall of Peace). Prinzipalmarkt: The Rathaus is located on the Prinzipalmarkt, a nice pedestrian area where you can stroll, shop, or just relax at a cafe.
Churches: Muenster has so many beautiful churches in the Gothic, Romanesque, Classicism, and Baroque-style that their towers define the skyline. It was also here in Muenster that Cardinal Clemens von Galen preached against the Nazi regime, during that era. Be sure to visit: St. Paulus-Dom - St. Paul’s Cathedral (Domplatz 28; www.paulusdom.de) - This Gothic and Romanesque-style cathedral was originally built in the 8th century and restored in the 13th. St. Lamberti Kirche (Lambertikirchplaz 1; http://bit.ly/2iGr4a1) - Famous for the Anabaptist Rebellion of 1533-34 and as the church where von Galen gave his anti-Nazi sermons.

Thomas Schütte, Cherry Tree,
Münster (photo: Henning Rogge)
Art Stop: Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso (Königsstrasse 1; http://bit.ly/2iJ2WDK) - Germany's only Picasso museum features prints and more than 800 of his lithographs; it also mounts special exhibitions.
Day Trip: In the surrounding countryside of Münsterland, there are 100 magnificent castles to view. See them biking (on your own or on a bike tour) or driving.
Where To Stay: There's a wide selection of hotels in Muenster from the Stadthotel to the Hotel Feldmann. Many offer special Sculpture Project packages. In the countryside: Hotel Hof zur Linde; Hotel Schloss Wilkinghege
KASSEL
While the hoopla surrounding documenta only happens every five years, Kassel's lovely parks, palaces, and museums can be visited at any time. Another draw is the connection to the Grimm brothers and the famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Kassel is the "capital city" of the German Fairy Tale Route (which you can drive; see the map on the website).
Places To Discover
Grimmwelt - Grimm World (Weinbergstrasse 21; www.grimmwelt.de) - Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White, etc. These fairy tales, that have fascinated and frightened children for generations, were not written by the Grimm brothers. They were tradition folktales passed down through the ages, usually by word of mouth. The brothers Jacob and Wilhelm collected them to preserve them for future generations. The museum documents their life and work.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (http://bit.ly/2wkfwhO) - This impressive hillside park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the city’s main attractions. Some of the outstanding features include: Baroque grounds and English landscape gardens; a cascading, ornamental water display; a Hercules monument; the Wilhelmshöhe Palace and the Löwenburg Castle.
Where To Stay: There are several good hotel choices in Kassel, in addition to special, hotel-package deals during documenta. Or, you can just do a day trip from Muenster, about two hours by train.

Biking, Münsterland

Getting There: The easiest way to get to Muenster (then on to Kassel) is through Düsseldorf, a transit hub and another interesting German city to visit. Several airlines have direct flights to Düsseldorf from various US gateways: United, Lufthansa, etc., then catch a train right from the airport to Münster. Germany has an excellent train network between cities; you can even get your tickets before you leave through RailEurope or GoEuro, a great site that cost compares flight, train & bus options.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

10+ Artsy & Cool Reasons to Visit Valencia, Spain

Centro Historico
By Jacquelin Carnegie - (Valencia, Spain) Valencia is one of those "hidden gems" worth discovering on your next trip to Spain. Just a few hours south of Barcelona, Valencia is a charming small city with stunning architecture and friendly people on Spain's Mediterranean coast. In addition to all the city has to offer, it's situated in the region of Valencia (Comunitat Valenciana), which has everything from mountain retreats to popular beach resorts. The weather in the area is splendid spring, summer, and fall, so almost anytime is a good time to visit.
DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF THE CITY: ARCHITECTURE & NEIGHBORHOODS
Spain's third largest city has a fascinating history. As a result, Valencia is a beautiful mélange of architectural marvels from Romanesque façades to castle-like Gothic structures, to ornate Baroque residences, and Modernist buildings from the city's expansion, beginning in the late 19th century.
Cathedral, Plaza de la Virgen
Walking & Bike Tours (Valencia Guias, Tel: +34 963 851 740; www.valenciaguias.com): One of the pure joys of being in Valencia is simply walking or, if you prefer, biking around and exploring all the neighborhoods. The experience is richer when accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. Marvel at all the wonderful examples of architectural styles within the  Centro Histórico (Historic Center), including the Ciutat Vella (Old Town), and El Carmen area, formally rundown but now flourishing with restaurants, clubs, and nightlife. When the walls surrounding Valencia’s old town were demolished in 1865, a new neighborhood was created--admire the elegant, Modernist buildings in Ensanche and check out Ruzafa, a working-class, ethnically-diverse section, that is becoming the city's hippest area.
Mercado Central
VALENCIA'S FOOD SPECIALTIES
The Valencia region is famous for its produce such as oranges and rice and wonderful food including Spain's most famous dish, Paella, and a local drink, Horchata.
Restaurant Week (Cuina Oberta) - Twice a year in spring and fall, usually June and November. With more than 50 restaurants participating, it's a great time to eat some Paella, said to originate from Valencia. Here, the pan of saffron-flavored rice is served with chunks of rabbit, chicken, snails, and vegetables (not seafood). Enjoy some at Palace Fesol (7 Hernán Cortés).
Horchatería Santa Catalina (6 Plaza de Santa Catalina; www.horchateriasantacatalina.com) Try this typical Valencian snack: Horchata, a cold, creamy, sweet drink made from chufas (tiger nuts), often served with Fartons, pastries covered with powdered sugar.
Mercado Central (Plaza Ciudad de Brujas; http://bit.ly/1oUSYe3) One of the largest food markets in Europe, it's a stunning example of Modernist architecture. Built in 1914, locals still buy groceries here.
Mercado de Colón (19 Calle Jorge Juan; www.mercadocolon.es) Another beautiful Modernist structure, this former food market opened in 1916. Today, it's an upscale mall with shops, cafes, and interesting restaurants such as Ma Khin Café. Concerts are also held in the atrium.
Original CV - Shop at one of these stores (or online) for authentic, Valencian food & gift items to bring home.
FANTASTICAL FESTIVALS
Las Fallas
Valencia is also famous for its exceptional festivals throughout the year. Here are two of the zaniest: Las Fallas (March) - Huge Ninots (puppets) depicting satirical scenes--often mocking politicians and celebrities--are filled with fireworks and set on fire. In addition to the pyrotechnics, the weeklong extravaganza includes bullfights, parades, contests, and general merriment. La Tomatina
 (August) - This tomato-throwing contest, in the nearby town of Buñol, began in 1945. Now, this crazy tradition is a weeklong festival with music, parades, dancing, a big Paella cook-off, and fireworks. (Advanced tickets required.)
PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
Valencia was founded by the Romans in 138 BC, occupied by Muslims for hundreds of years, then became part of the medieval kingdom of Aragon in 1238. During the 15th century, it was one of the most important Mediterranean cities. Today, the city's past is present as it moves into the future. Here's just a few of the wondrous sites to be visited: Museo Arqueológico de La Almoina (Plaza de La Almoina; http://bit.ly/190Xl1S) This museum, on the site where Valencia was founded, offers an exploration of the city's history through excavated ruins from various periods. Archaeological finds include Roman baths, Visigoth tombs, and a Moorish courtyard.
Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)
La Lonja de la Seda (8-9 Plaza del Mercado; http://bit.ly/1M4LPBM)
This splendid Gothic-style mercantile palace was built in the 15th century to symbolize Valencia's wealth and power. Merchants came from all over to trade here--oil, then silk, followed by agricultural products. Now, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plaza de Toros (28 Calle de Xàtiva; www.torosvalencia.com) Bullfights (corridas) still take place in Valencia. If that's not your thing, the beautiful Plaza de Toros amphitheater, built in 1859, is also used as a concert venue. Take a tour of the ring and adjacent museum.
City of Arts & Sciences
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (Avenida Autopista del Saler; Tel: +34 902 100 031; cac.es) Designed by native-son, architect Santiago Calatrava, the stunning City of Arts & Sciences is a 21st-century, architectural marvel. The complex includes: Museo de las Cièncias Príncipe Felipe - a family-friendly science museum; Oceanografic - a marine park & one of Europe’s largest aquariums; Hemisfèric - Auditorium & Planetarium; Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía - a spectacular opera house; Umbracle - a beautiful, covered garden. Plan plenty of time to explore it all.
Palau de la Música (30 Paseo de la Alameda; www.palaudevalencia.com) Valencia's concert hall is known for its wonderful acoustics. Some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world perform here.
SENSATIONAL CERAMICS
Arturo Mora ceramics
The region of Valencia is renowned for ceramics. In addition to these museums, be sure to visit the nearby, world-famous-for-ceramics town of Manises.
Museo Nacional de Cerámica de Valencia González Martí (2 Poeta Querol; http://bit.ly/1DnHGEV) Housed in a beautiful, 15th-century palace, the museum traces the history of ceramics from prehistoric pieces to contemporary works by Picasso.
Lladró Museum (Ctra. de Alboraya, Tavernes Blanques; Tel: +34 963 187 000; http://bit.ly/1A2Qcqw) Lladró figurines are beloved world-over. At the headquarters in the Tavernas Blanques suburb, see the family's private collection since the 1953 beginning and take a factory tour to observe how everything's made. (Reservations required.)
Bioparc
PARKS & REC
Beach Day: As a costal city, Valencia has beautiful beaches just a metro ride away from the center of town. Stroll along Paseo Marítimo, the lovely beachfront promenade lined with cafés and restaurants, as you soak up the sun.
Paseo Maritimo, Valencia's beachfront
A Walk in the Park: When the flood-prone river Turia, surrounding the city of Valencia, was diverted, the riverbed was turned into parkland. The Jardín del Turia (Turia Gardens; locals still call it El Rio, the river) is the pride and joy of the city with jogging & cycling paths, gardens, fountains, & playgrounds.
Better Than a Zoo: Bioparc - Without leaving Valencia, be transported to an African wildlife sanctuary. If you're traveling with kids or just love animals, spend a day here watching antelopes, zebras, gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, warthogs, lions, and leopards, just to name a few, roam freely in natural habitats. Have a meal on the cafeteria terrace as giraffes stroll by!
DAY TRIPS: MANISES - Renowned for ceramics since the 14th century, with some 30 pottery workshops, many open to visitors--be sure to visit La Cerámica Valenciana & Arturo Mora. Manises is just a metro ride away from Valencia. SERGORBE - In the Valencian province of Castelló, Segorbe is famous for many things including a bull-running week (Semana de Toros) and fabulous olive oil, Belluga.
LEARN SPANISH AND/OR STUDY MUSIC
Spanish: The University of Valencia dates from 1499. While many high school and college students come here to study Spanish, there are also several language schools and programs that cater to adults. Music: The international campus of Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music is in Valencia. Both are great excuses to spend some time in this beautiful city! 
Making Your Trip Easier: Valencia Tourist Card - Unlimited travel on public transport, plus discounts at shops, restaurants and museums.
Where to Stay: There are any number of great places to stay from budget hostels (Nest) to lovely boutique hotels to five-star accommodations (Las Arenas, right on the beach) or vacation-rental apartments. AdHoc Monumental Hotel (4 Calle Boix, Tel: +34 963 919 140; www.adhochoteles.com) - This charming, boutique hotel with a delightful & helpful staff is right in the heart of the Old Town district.
Modernist building in Ruzafa
Getting There: Currently, there are no direct flights into Valencia. Fly to Madrid with a connecting flight or take Spain’s high-speed train the AVE from Madrid's Atocha station to Valencia, about 90 minutes. Or, fly into Barcelona and take a local train. You can pre-purchase train tickets on RailEurope or GoEuro, a great site that cost compares flight, train, & bus options. Spain's national airlines, Iberia, has an excellent on-time record, new aircraft on long-haul flights, reconfigured Business class and, what feels like, a roomier Coach section as well. While Valencia is worth visiting all on its own, you can easily combine it with a trip to Madrid and/or Barcelona. Spain has so much to offer!