Tag Archives: Exhibitions

Armchair Voyages with Joseph Cornell at the Royal Academy

Artwork by Joseph Cornell: Planet Set, Tete Etoile, Giuditta Pasta (dedicace) 1950. Credit: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01846

The Royal Academy’s latest exhibition, Wanderlust, is like being given an intravenous drip feed of retro travel photos, postcards and scrapbook materials. It’s like swallowing hundreds of ‘vacation’ Pinterest boards in one go. For anyone with an incurable sense of escapism, this is a drug, and it’s delivered by a little-known bachelor from Queens, New York, who never went abroad.

A self-taught American artist, Joseph Cornell created mixed media collages using anything from Baedeker’s travel guides to old maps, tickets, compasses, adverts and newspaper clippings, calling his collections ‘explorations’. read more

Riviera Style at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London

Riviera Style swimwear display seen in London museum

If there’s one exhibition the makers of the dreaded Protein World advert – ‘Are you beach body ready?’ – should see, it’s Riviera Style: Resort & Swimwear Since 1900 at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, where it’s proven that idealised beach bodies – and holiday trends – are forever changing.

There’s no failsafe seaside look that could carry you from the 1900s to the noughties, just as no destination has consistently ruled over all the others (for one thing, Dubai and Benidorm were barely on the map in 1900, unless you fancied a quiet fishing trip). read more

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime

Living Room Cigarettes by Corinne May Botz Credit: Phaidon

I’m the proud owner of the complete Poirot DVD box set. It’s pretty addictive watching a moustachioed David Suchet (as Hercule Poirot) solving crimes with his little grey cells in overdrive. However, I’m under no illusions that real crime is anywhere near as neatly solved as Agatha Christie would have us believe.

Whilst Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime is Poirot-less, it does contain more than enough genuine artefacts and stories to keep whodunit fans in suspense. I’d already read crime writer Val McDermid’s book (of the same title), which acts as the official companion to the exhibition, so I had an inkling about some of the displays and their place in the history of forensics. If you haven’t already bought the book and don’t have time to read it beforehand, try to get your hands on a signed copy from the Wellcome shop. read more

Madrid’s Best Art Museums: Prado vs. Thyssen

Artwork from the Prado and the Thyssen including Bosch and O'Keefe

The Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum are two of the main attractions in Madrid’s Museum Triangle and they’re featured in every decent guidebook to the city. I was lucky enough to spend a few hours in each one during a trip to Madrid, but I know not every tourist has the opportunity to do this, especially on a tight schedule or budget. That means it’s time to weigh up the options and compare the two, from their collections to their visitor experiences, and the nitty gritty of opening hours and ticket options. read more

Dresden’s Hygiene Museum is the Right Prescription

Museumsgebäude, 2012, David Brandt

Before you run for the hills, I should warn you this isn’t really a ‘Hygiene Museum’ at all: it’s more like the love child of the Science Museum and the Wellcome Collection (two brilliant London sights for curious tourists). In other words, this attraction is ten times more fascinating and approachable than its name, the Deutsche Hygiene-Museum, suggests.

For many of us, the word ‘hygiene’ conjures images of hand washing, medical scrubs and stern matrons, yet this in no way represents the current collection in Dresden. Admittedly in its earlier incarnations this was a place for teaching the masses about good health and cleanliness – in a 1930 report, Time Magazine called it ‘exemplary’ and ‘instructive’ for educating ‘lazy, ignorant, indifferent people’ – but now the aim is to spark curiosity, not lecture visitors. read more

Horst: A Global Photographer

Perspolis Persia image of bull and palace 1950

Think a fashion photographer has nothing to do with travel? Think again. A new exhibition at the V&A pays tribute to one of the best international photographers of the 20th century, known for his eye-catching fashion images such as Mainbocher Corset (1939), but with a wealth of travel experience under his belt too.

The German-born artist known as Horst P. Horst mainly split his time between the hectic cities of Paris and New York and managed to squeeze in quite a few breathtaking escapades during his 93 years. Here are some of the geographical highlights of Horst: Photographer of Style read more

A Long Weekend in Bath

Pulteney Bridge

If you’re craving a few days of culture in a classic British city, you can’t go far wrong with Bath – one huge UNESCO World Heritage Site ready to be enjoyed. It’s got the historical depth and arts connections to provide you with a bulging itinerary, or there are plenty of beautiful open spaces where you can just lazily take in the scenery at a much slower pace.

Whilst I’ve visited a handful of times before, I’d never really ‘done’ Bath in the traditional tourist sense, and I was looking forward to seeing it through new eyes. These are the places I made a beeline for… read more

Prague’s Museum of Communism vs. Havana’s Museo de la Revolución

Two museums separated by the Atlantic Ocean tackle similar issues, but from opposing viewpoints. Prague’s Velvet Revolution may be decades old, yet the relief at being free from communism is still palpable on a visit to the city, most notably in the Museum of Communism, where the reality of Czechoslovakian life from 1948-1989 is laid bare.

In contrast, Havana has been under the revolutionary eye of Fidel Castro (and, lately, his brother Raul) for decades, and its Museo de la Revolución is filled with artefacts described in chillingly stylistic communist prose, featuring phrases like ‘his courageous will’ and ‘an unbeatable soldier’. Having visited each museum in the last two months, I couldn’t help but compare these two attractions. read more