The word ‘museum’ conjures up images in the Scribblaire’s mind of dusty corridors, dark corners with creaky suits of armour, whispered conversations and crusty old curators keeping a watchful eye over proceedings.
The Scribblaire isn’t sure why the image prevails though, since some of the most amazing places I have ever visited are museums and none of them could be described in any of those terms. Most of the world’s great museums are light, airy and spacious, with plenty of room to view the artefacts . If you are interested in the history of your village, town or city, I’d encourage you to visit your local museum – you may be surprised at what you find out.
But it’s the bigger, famous museums that I want to write about today. The Scribblaire is fortunate to have been able to visit many of them. I would find it very difficult, if not impossible to visit a city without spending a signficant amount of time in its museum.
I have three joint favourite museums (so far at least, since there’s many I haven’t been to yet – any recommendations gratefully received).
1) The British Museum, London. Home of the Parthenon sculptures about which there is much controversy. For many years the Greek government has been demanding the return of the sculptures but the BM has resisted this.
2) The Louvre, Paris. This is where you will find The Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, both of which cause long queues. The Scribblaire has visited several times, but there’s never enough time to see everything.
3) The Archeological Museum, Athens. There’s an amazing array of ancient sculpture, ceramics and gold. The Scribblaire’s favourites here are the Mask of Agamemnon and the huge statue of Zeus (or Poseidon, depending on who you believe).
There are others that could make my top ten, but it would be really hard to choose a final list. These include The Smithsonian, Metropolitan and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Vatican museum in Rome, Pompidou Centre in Paris and Galleria dell’ Academia in Florence (where you’ll find Michelangelo’s David). The Academia in Venice is also great, as is the Doge’s palace. I haven’t mentioned the Victoria & Albert museum or it’s next door neighbour the Natural History museum in London. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is worth a visit as is the Byzantine museum in Athens.
I certainly can’t forget the museum in Delphi, home of the Oracle and of a bronze statue of a charioteer that took my breath away.
As well as large museums there are many that specialise in one subject. In Brussels theres one devoted to musical instruments which is housed in a lovely art deco building. In Amsterdam it would be hard not to visit Anne Frank’s house and/or the Rembrandt museum.
Next time you’re visiting somewhere new, try and find a museum. If nothing else, most museums have great cafes these days.
If you’ve got suggestions about what else should be on my list and why, let me know.
The Scribblaire – January 2012