Museums are among the most beloved and trusted places worldwide, and frequently on everyone’s travel itinerary.
And they are everywhere – cities, islands, deserts, the ocean’s edge. Museums are booming. The opportunities today are seemingly limitless – and still expanding worldwide—places to learn about the past, revere the rare, and push past old ways of thinking to look to the future. Travel with your tablet or laptop and check out the opportunities to do adventure travel, ecotourism, and day trips.
Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
– Nelson Mandela, 1964
What could be more timely—at a time when refugees of many nationalities are seeking asylum and intensive anti-immigration political sentiments and policies are underway — a museum, the only one of its kind, that considers, honors and interprets human rights worldwide, with a special emphasis on Canada and its indigenous populations. Opened in 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg (Alberta) is unique in its purpose to be “a center of learning where Canadians and people from around the world can engage in discussion and commit to taking action against hate and oppression.” It’s the first Canadian National Museum to be built in half a century.
Lasting Change, Meaningful Change
The museum uses individual stories in an immersive, interactive experience to engage visitors – taking “a journey to erase barriers and create meaningful, lasting change.”
Everyone Has a Right
Just opened, an exhibition devoted to Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid – the institutionalized racial segregation that dominated the South African landscape for decades. The immersive exhibition Mandela: Struggle for Freedom includes a replica of the tiny cell where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he was under lock and key; and a 15-foot-high tower of laws. More about the exhibition
Another way the museum works to erase barriers is through accessible design. In 2016, the International Association of Universal Design awarded its Gold Medal to the museum for creating a place for people of all abilities through physical access, wayfinding, and visitor services, as well as programming.
The Gaudi Legacy
Barcelona’s Gaudi Legacy in the Gracia District: Catalonia’s politics shouldn’t stop you from visiting Barcelona, especially to see the great Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi’s residences and landmark buildings. The newest open to the public: Casa Vicens – the first private residence Gaudi designed in the 1880’s as a summer home for a wealthy financier, and a private residence until 2014!
It’s one of a group of Gaudi landmarks designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Casa Vicens was recently restored, but its design is undiminished. Decorative brickwork and lavish interior tile designs are an amalgam of Moorish design, Art Nouveau, and what is considered an early example of Catalan modernism. Wow! What a rich heritage. 2014, Casa Vicens was purchased by MoraBank – an Andorran financial institution – to become a museum. The kickoff was in November 2017.
Six other properties in and near Barcelona are already open. Güell Park and the world renowned Sagrada Família, which is expected to be completed in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of the architect’s death Here’s an illustrated map of the Gaudi legacy holdings .
Oslo’s building boom
One of Europe’s fastest growing cities, Norway’s capital is booming with new cultural, residential, and recreational amenities on the waterfront, making it a robust hub with links to the center city. The flourishing waterfront —and burgeoning cultural district—make it a go-to place for any traveler to Scandinavia.
The Fjord City Masterplan, adopted in the year 2000, outlines the dramatic reuse of industrial sites and highways that once blocked magnificent views of the Oslofjord. Some of the earliest changes came in Tjuvholmen, an area further out in the fjord, with the creation of the Astrup Fearnley Museum (modern art) and the Tjuveholmen Sculpture Park, both designed by international architect Renzo Piano.
East of the famed Akershus fortress, the city’s new cultural quarter is in Bjørvika Bay. The first stunning landmark completed in 2008: the award-winning Opera House, home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, is a provocative design by the Norwegian architects Snøhetta. The building’s roofline glides down to the water’s edge, and is a popular outdoor destination in its own right for sun worshippers and young lovers! See our article from 2015
Underway: Relocating the Munch Museum – devoted to Norway’s most famous artist Edvard Munch (The Scream) –into a new 15-story structure with expansive glass that offers fjord views, building will provide room for the artist’s full body of work, which was donated to Norway upon the artist’s death. It’s a controversial project – scheduled for completion in 2020–with divided opinion on whether this monolith will overwhelm its neighbors. See the animation video
Another venture: Oslo’s planned Deichman Library, due to open in 2019 and described as “immense,” is a multifaceted media center –digital library, cinema, gaming zones, restaurant, along with tens of thousands of books.
In Oslo’s outskirts of Baerum, the former Oslo airport is being transformed into a sustainable waterfront development by Rodeo with a signature feature: a new 10,000 square-meter Aquarium on the waterfront area. Designed by the London Haptic firm, the Aquarium design is inspired by svaberg, a type of rock formation found in the area, with two gently sloping roof domes that glide to the waterfront—a theme seen in the popular Opera House . Like the Opera House, the aquarium will utilize part of the roof as outdoor space to walk, climb and sit. It’s due for completion in 2021.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi
Beneath a silvery dome of some 180 meters, made of 8,000 metal stars, sits a museum city ( medina) blooming in the Arab desert. The Louvre Abu Dhabi–– formed in partnership with 13 top French museums –is called “the first museum of its kind in the Arab world. ” Located in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the new museum took more than a decade to plan, design and build, and opened in November 2017. It crosses civilizations and cultures to present the interconnectedness of the human story, with a rich tapestry of art, history and socio- cultural insights.
Designed by Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, The Louvre Abu Dhabi, is the first so-called universal museum in the Arab world . Its scope and content it ranges from ancient to contemporary, along with specially commissioned art works. Safe to say — no expense was spared.
“Visitors can walk through the promenades overlooking the sea beneath the museum’s 180-metre dome, comprised of almost 8,000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern. When sunlight filters through, it creates a moving ‘rain of light’ beneath the dome, reminiscent of the overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases.” Background and how to visit
Other museums expected to join the Louvre on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi include the Guggenheim Museum (New York City) and the British Museum.
Born out of an intergovernmental agreement signed on March 6, 2007, between the United Arab Emirates and France, the museum brings the Louvre name to Abu Dhabi (at a purported licensing fee of $525 million) and presents both ancient and contemporary works of historic, cultural, and sociological interest from around the world.
Among the 13 French public cultural establishments under the umbrella of Agence France-Muséums are the Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Musée du Quai Branly, and the Rodin Museum. What a powerhouse group.
The Louvre in Paris created a precedent with the Islamic world six years ago, with a treasure trove of Islamic decorative arts in new permanent galleries installed in one of the Louvre’s courtyards, beneath a vast filigree metal roof that resembles a flying carpet. The $125-million project was generously funded by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and the governments of Oman, Morocco, Kuwait and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Paisley Park, Twin Cities Minnesota
Composer, producer, recording artist Prince created his own private haven and production studio outside Minnesota’s Twin Cities in Chanhassen – a 65,000 square foot complex completed in 1987. It was here as a commercial production facility that artists such as Madonna, R.E.M., and Stevie Wonder recorded, before Prince closed the doors forever, to make it his own private sanctuary.
After his untimely death in 2016, the future of the property was uncertain. Family and executors agreed to make Paisley Park into a permanent museum-shrine to Prince with by-appointment-only guided tour visits that offer access to Prince’s iconic concert wardrobe, awards, musical instruments, artwork, motorcycles, rare music and video recordings. Tickets are available in advance and online through December 31, 2018. Tour site access
Cezanne’s Studio – a New Vision
To enter Paul Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence, France – is an emotional experience, a place where time has stood still for over a century since his death in 1906. You might expect him at any moment – his coat, paint satchel, hat and umbrella are in the corner. His familiar pots and props stand at the ready for the master – arranged along a long shelf and tacked to the wall. You can imagine, as I did when visiting the studio in 2016, Cézanne preparing for the day, mixing his paints, whether indoors or getting ready to paint plein air at his favorite outdoor site at Mont St. Victoire.
You will be moved, contemplative, curious about the man who always painted his wife looking cold and stoic, but used fruit, vases and eccentric items to create an entirely new style of painting. Visit the studio.
Internationally known photographer Joel Meyerowitz has taken the studio experience one step further with a new book Cezanne’s Objects in which he has photographed each of the objects in Cézanne’s studio. Meyerowitz’s insight led him to understand how the objects against the flat gray background of the studio walls are the essence of the flatness Cézanne achieved in his paintings.
Meyerowitz notes in his 2017 article for Paris Review, “Cézanne’s was the first voice of ‘flatness,’ the first statement of the modern idea that a painting was simply paint on a flat canvas, nothing more, and the environment he made served this idea.” Read the Paris Review article excerpted from his 2017 book, Cezanne’s Objects (Damiani Editore, 116 pages). Read the New Yorker book review
This fall, Green News Update continues our museum series with a new contemporary art museum in Helsinki, the first digital art museum (Tokyo), South America’s largest aquarium, the Revolutionary War Museum in Philadelphia, and Israel’s Jerusalem Underground complex.