Museum

The details of Michelangelo’s David

052    On March 6th, the anniversary of Michelangelo Buonarrotti’s birthday I had the chance to finally visit the David. Upon walking into the Accademia there is no excitement, the first room is yellow tinted with unappealing lighting. In the center stands an early cast of Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna, the walls carry scattered paintings. Turn left and you enter a long hallway where suddenly the David strikes you. The hallway includes a number of statues by Michelangelo as well but they are impossible to focus on when there is the beacon of natural light meeting marble at then end of the hall.

It is impossible not to rush straight ahead to the David. He stands on a pediment, and although I have seen the one in Piazza della Signoria, I thought the real statue was smaller. This massive larger than life statue holds your attention. A large part of this is due to its position.  A jewel of the museum it is almost as if the museum was built around this statue, rather than having it moved there later.

Michelangelo David Florence

 

When I imagined David smaller, I imagined the viewer could meet his gaze, whereas in reality Michelangelo’s ability to create moving emotion shows through and David intently looks up to his left, as if meeting the gaze of Goliath.  In reality, it originally looked to Rome, a message sent from the Medici Democracy to the Papal State.

While his gaze does not meet the views, the strong aspect of his hand and his overall presence within the space is enough to complete a sense of awe.

Michelangelo's David Gaze Michelangelo's David, Hand detail

Once the viewer can pull themselves back into the moment, away from the statue, the other statues in the hall become clearer. Of these 6 other statues, 4 are Michelangelo’s unfinished Slaves, meant to be placed on the Pope Julius II tomb. While they may not seem “beautiful” in our eyes that are trained to see finished works as beautiful, they reveal a new part of the process. How does a block of marble become an inspiring work of art? Michelangelo carved from the front back, having the figures emerge. When looking at these however, it appears the reverse, that the figures are slowly melting back into the marble.

A shot from inside the Pergamon Museum.

 

 
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The Pergamon Museum is not only home to the Pergamon Altar but also the Ishtar Gate, this Market Gate of Miletus, the Mshatta Facade, and the inside hallway of Christian home from Syria.  These buildings are all impressive, and placing them inside another building gives you the ability to just sit back and take it all in.

One the one hand I loved this set-up, yet part of it felt strange, looking at an entire building within another, surrounded by quite yellow walls. What was your experience visiting this museum?

 

 

The Egyptian Collection in Torino

Some pieces of the Immortali exhibit

Some pieces of the Immortali exhibit

The painted dancer

The painted dancer

One of the Book of the Dead collection

One of the Book of the Dead collection

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One of the the first "mummies" from pre dynastic Egypt.

One of the the first “mummies” from pre dynastic Egypt.

Pieces from the pre-dynastic collection.

Pieces from the pre-dynastic collection.

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The Temple of Elleysia

The Temple of Elleysia

The Egyptian Museum of Torino is presently undergoing reconstruction, to make a larger exhibition space for their extensive collection. At the time to show as much of the collection as possible there is a special exhibition titled Immortali, as well as the stable collections of the pre dynastic artifacts, the tomb of Kha and the statue room. The Immortali exhibition will be on display from 2013 until the new museum space opening in 2015.

Upon arrival to the museum the entrance uses mirrors, and angled architecture to appear as if the visitor is inside a pyramid. There are signs as well as very kind ticket takers to direct visitors on the itineraries path. The new itinerary for the museum’s renovation begins with Immortali exhibit.This is located in the basement, the path then takes the visitor through the mummy storage space, where a few mummies are visible through windows, then upstairs to the Predynastic and Kha collections, and finally across the courtyard to the statue room and temple of Elleysia.

There are plenty of brochures in multiple languages for information on both the Immortali exhibit and the regular collections of the museum. However if any individual forgets to grab these at the entrance, information is everywhere throughout the museum, as well as more places to grab these brochures.

The first information sheet, being that for Immortali discusses the plans for the future museum and what its layout will be.The plan is for the museum to confirm the famous quote by JF Champollion “The road to Memphis and Thebes passe through Turin.”.

The aims of the Immortali exhibit are to share the artifacts of the cult of the afterlife. The ideas around the afterlife changed throughout periods in Ancient Egypt, this exhibit shows how it was respected and how it differed through the ages. THe exhibit presents artifacts and great pieces of art which take the visitor through a ” vast chronological path” which includes the New, Middle and Old Kingdom as well as the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.

Each piece was chosen to show uniqueness of style or material showing a high degree of knowledge and skill as well as ambition of the nobles to tell of their own greatness.

The exhibition most definitely meets its intended aims. It is set up with different display cases and statue center pieces in chronological order. Each case has a large written plaque with in depth but easily read and understandable information about what that particular case shows. For example one case may describe how religion changed during the Middle Kingdom, then how it can be seen through the use of different gods, in different displays.  Another is how funerary practices changed in Roman and Ptolemaic Egypt, with tombs and funerary items to show this.

Each artifact is included with a small card explaining what it depicts, when it came from, when and where it was found, and how it is unique or different from other items of this type.

Though the artifacts seen are similar to those found in most other Egyptian collections from museums around the world, with a few marvelous exceptions such as that of a painted dancer a weaving display, and books of the dead; the Museo Egizio  presents them in such a way that a visitor  even with prior knowledge still walks away with a load of new information. The museum is a much better source even than most books suitible for non academics.

This exhibit is so well presented with such short yet helpful information, provided in both Italian and English (with the possibility of a French guide) that everyone can walk away with a better understanding of Ancient Egypt.

Tours are offered in many languages, and though Immortali has no special events of displays for children the museum has a whole provides children’s events. The most crowd-pleasing being that of a Halloween event.

The Museum was founded in 1824 under Savoy King Carlo Felice, from the collection of Bernardino Drovetti, Napoleons French Consul to Egypt. This original collection housed 5268 items. When Ernesto Schiapperelli was head of the museum, another 25000 objects were added, either through excavation or through auction.  The exhibit of the Tomb of Kha was provided to the museum upon it’s excavation in 1906, it included another 504 items. The Temple of Ellesiya was rescued with the help of the museum from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in 1965. In 1966 Egypt gave the temple to the country of Italy who then put it in the care of the museum.

The Museo Egizio prides themselves on their massive collection ranging over 4000 years. As well as the fact the make this collection and the ancient civilization accessible to everyone. One of their main aims is to present the entire range of Ancient Egyptian history in a clear and interesting way to all.

The Egyptian Museum of Torino succesfully achieves and even goes further than its aims. The museum is fun for those of all ages and levels of Egyptology knowledge *even those with none!). It provides thoughtful information which is easily read and understood. Providing visitors with much on  Ancient Egyptian life throughout the dynasties.

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 8:30am to 7:30pm. If you are in the area it is a must-see. The collection is fascinating and I can promise you will leave with a new interest in Egyptology and at least one artifact resonating with you.

If you are further away I do recommend a trip to Torino to visit not only this museum, but the many other attractions in the city. It might even be best to save a trip until 2015 when the newly renovated museum will be revealed.

 

Juventus Museum

The Juventus Museum is probably one of the best museum presentations in existence. (I should also note Torino as an entire city is better fully presented to the public than any other historic city I have visited.) The museum uses all available space and media to present an emotional and inspiring history of Juventus. If a visitor comes at first indifferent to either football or Juventus, or even if the come with a slight dislike of the team, they will surely leave with a changed mind.

Upon entering the museum, you walk along a curved white and black wall to a circled opening. There the various moments in Juve’s history are projected along the wall, while upbeat and motivating music plays in the background. The motivating music plays throughout the entire museum experience. The path then continues to the first attraction: the Trophy Room. 

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This Trophy Room alone would have been enough to inspire a visitor, it is an incredible display. Each trophy is in its own separate case.  Three TV screens are placed along with these cases, The room starts dark, then the TV’s begin a count up from 1897 (the year Juve was founded) to this year, as it passes a year a trophy was earned, the trophy case lights up. By the end all are lit up, and the TV’s play clips of winning these. There then is a random choreography of the lights accompanying the music which plays.

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Upon leaving this room the hall leads a little further before it opens up into a spacious room which is the full museum. On this entrance wall is a map showing all the places in the world Juve has played, and an introduction to the team. This wall includes quotes of famous players and various football celebrities, about Juventus and the team’s mentality (which is winning). This also has three TV’s playing a short film, mainly interviews with players, about what Juventus means.

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In the main room, the history of Juventus is laid out on one wall. The visitor begin at the formation of the team, with the original manuscript written in 1897. Along this edge there are displays of historic memorabilia, and team equipment for each major period throughout history. This wall also includes historic photographs and even more quotes summarizing each phase of Juventus. What was most helpful to any visitor is that there is also short paragraphs which tell of the history of the team. This information is very well-organized, that was understandable even to someone new to the team and football history.This information and stories included information on all Juve’s unfortunate setbacks but more importantly their comebacks.

Along the opposite wall includes a display of the jerseys for every player who appeared more than 300 times with Juve. The record being Alessandro Del Piero with 705 appearances. Past this was an incredible artistic display which uses mirrors and only 6 Tv screens to create the illusion of a giant football covered in TV screens, playing various moments of Juve.

So far Juventus has used written history, photography, personal quotes, historic memorabilia and video to inspire videos.They then use the full room, to add even more of an experience. In the center of the room they use even more media and points of interests to appeal to everyone. There is a display of antique Juventus toys and souvenirs such as cookie jars, teddy bears, tins and signs. These antiques were fun to see as they connected modern visitors to the fans of the past.

To incorporate even more past media connections, there are three stations set up with Radio Shows, Cinema appearances and TV appearances of Juventus through the years. Visitors may put on provided headphones and choose a year to watch or listen to these shows as they like.

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Further there is another modern media display, which is a projection of the coaches, Lippi and Trappatoni, in front of a recreation of the benches. These projections then are connected to a display where visitors can choose a subject and the display will interact with the visitor.

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For the final central display there is the Golden Ball, with displays showing the winners of this trophy throughout time and the option at stations to choose a winner and watch all of his goals with Juve. There are multiple screens so there will never be to long a wait for a visitor to interact with the display.

To conclude the wall with history finishes with the inauguration of the Juventus Stadium, and a brief display of Juventus’ achievements in recent years. However after that visitors enter a closed circular projection room which is outfitted with turf to watch a 6 minute video to sum up the Juventus experience. This video is a montage of Juventus moments, showing the wins, struggles, courage and inspiring times of the team.

The Juventus Museum truly uses every form of media as well as interactive displays to appeal to every type of visitor. It also uses it’s presentation so well that is become as a research library for the team. The presentation enhances the public experience immensely, it also provides an incredible emotional connection to the team.

Even if you have little interest in Juventus the museum is worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. The presentation of the museum is incredible enough that everyone will find something interesting.

More museums should look into Juventus’ display as they can learn much. The museum is only 2 rooms, yet makes the most of it. If more historic museums presented this well we would definitely see and increasing interest in the museums and their collection, along with an increase in attendance.

Centrale Montemartini: Industrial Classics

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Centrale Montemartini as a structure was built in 1912 as Rome’s first public electricity plant, lighting about half the modern city. It went out of use in 1963, then in 1990 was used as a gallery exhibition space, finally in 1997 coming into ownership of the Capitoline museums.  Originally part of the collection was moved to be stored, but then the museum decided to open it as an extension because they found the space to be perfect.

The space still holds all the old engines and industrial equipment of the original plant, and the sculptures and other pieces are displayed by incorporating these industrial pieces.  It truly displays a postmodernist feel by combining these two historical eras, these two very important aspects of Rome’s past.

Walking in the first sculpture is Aphrodite in pentelic marble, side by side with a turn of the century cast-iron extraction pump, is the perfect image of these two eras’ side by side. It is the most definitely the most picturesque image a museum could open with.

From then on it is up to the visitor where they would like to go, there is a ground floor and upstairs. Almost all the downstairs is Roman original painting and original sculpture. This includes the oldest original wall painting found. Other items include beautiful mosaics, and ivory carved pieces from a funerary spire. Upstairs is mainly sculpture, often copied from Greeks. Many of the sculptures were from Roman gardens. Some others are from temples, such as the pediment of Hercules 9th labor against the Amazons, where Augustus is depicted as Hercules. This came from the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, this was dedicated to the god Apollo Medicus who was a god of well-being and protection during military campaigns. This temple was restored in 33BC by Sosias in order to pay tribute to Augustus. Sosias had fought for Marc Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, but for some reason had been spared.

All the upstairs collection is shown with the engines, shown together it is really amazing to see how ideals have changed. Once where power was shown by the level of sculpture shown in one’s gardens, power became electricity and industry. Once the god’s who are depicted in all these sculptures were worshipped daily as ones who controlled everything on earth, now electricity is the real power, holding the biggest importance in all individuals life.

Though it is out of the way I do recommend seeing this extension to the Capitoline, it is a small collection but it is most interesting to see the old industrial part of Rome. It is even more interessing to see these things interacting together. The museum is located in Ostiense by Garbatella Metro stop. But it is also possible to get to the museum by walking from Piramide straight down the road (one over to the left from the wall).

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The Night of Museums

Last night in Rome was the Night of Museums, where most museums stay open throughout the night, have free entrance, and most hold concerts or special exhibitions as well. I originally planned to visit Villa Giulia museum, or Palazzo Barberini. However Villa Giulia is very far away and Palazzo Barberini advertised a concert so I believed it was only the concert, not the actual museum.

So instead I went close to the Museum in Trastevere, I had no idea what to expect but on my way there I looked it up. It is mainly painting and photography museum, unfortunately the whole museum was not open, only their special exhibit. The exhibit was the World Press Photography winners, which you can see here. It is a collection of the best photojournalism pieces from the past year, ranging from all over the world dealing with all different stories. There is a section on animals, a section on sports, and a portrait section and then many deal with issues in Gaza, drug trafficking in South America, Gang Violence in Rochester NY, and ongoing struggles in Afghanistan and Syria.

Each photo has a piece next to it telling the photographer, where they are from, then a short paragraph about the issue the photos portray, and a caption further describing what is going on.

The center of the Museum was a small open park. Here they were setting up for a concert of some kind, there was a DJ and behind him they had video art ongoing which was very intriguing. At first it was colored lines then it moved on to slow motion people in some sort of party setting.

The World Press Photography exhibit is being shown around the world, so I highly recommend you see if it is showing near you and check it out!