Guest Post: Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum

Let’s see what is happening at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam via Solidliquids. Solidliquids never stops exploring what is around her. She is based in Amsterdam and always has a pulse on what is happening in the city. Enjoy! 

The Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk , and the Van Gogh Museum are some of Amsterdam’s most recognised museums.  Less famous but not less interesting is the Tropenmuseum (The Tropical Museum). This museum shares insightful stories about the huge cultural diversity to be found around the world.  It is a museum about people.

Currently the Tropenmuseum has three special exhibitions alongside their permanent collection that are worth checking out:  Cool Japan, The Bitter Chocolate, and Africa Fashion Cities (sadly ending Jan 6th). 

The Cool Japan exhibition is all about the world’s fascination with everything associated with Japan.  This particular exhibit is broken into small installations.  Two highlights are Kawaii and Otaku.  The Kawaii installation focuses on the growing protest among girls rebelling against the pressure to growing up, working hard, and conforming to the strict demands of society.  Hello Kitty known throughout the world and one you are most likely familiar with represents the commercial success that developed from this rebellion.  Now known throughout Japan as a Kawaii icon. 

The gallery of Otaku is a cozy Japanese corner that is set up for you to experience on a small-scale what it would be like if you were to attend a con.  Otaku was once a term of abuse, but now it is embraced as a nickname similar to what we refer to a “nerd” or “geek”.  The devoted fans to this culture spend hours gaming, reading, watching, and participating in the development of cultural products.   

The Bitter Chocolate exhibit reveals the ugly story of child labour on chocolate plantations.  Fifteen children share their compelling stories and it will change the way you look at chocolate forever!

Bitter Chocolate

The African Fashion Cities is an impressive exhibit told through the eyes of fashion experts from Africa and The Netherlands.  Visitors explore the lively and diverse fashion scenes that shake up the world of fashion.  Local stylists share their perspectives on what drives local styles.  Additionally there are videos of local retailers, photographers, and bloggers from different regions that share their design stories.  One example is the brother and sister team behind 2ManySiblings. They take you to a market in Nairobi where they buy and restyle second-hand designers clothes.   

The Fashion exhibition features creations by The Sartists, a multidisciplinary creative collective from Johannesburg, Said Mahrouf, a Moroccan-Dutch designer, and Maki Oh, an African based fashion label appreciated by Beyonce and Michelle Obama.  By the way did you know Maki Oh’s designer Amaka Osakwe’s inspiration for her Spring 2019 collection came from hanging out in hole-in-the-wall joints know as Bukas in Lagos, Nigeria?  It also happens to be Amaka’s hometown, where these Bukas are typically run by women.  Check out her latest collection.

Amazing! Beautiful! Inspiring!

This is just a peek into Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum.  It is a rich and grand museum that stimulates curiosity. Just exploring the website will capture your interest.  A collection of installations that will draw you in through interaction and personal stories. The Tropenmuseum is worldly and one to experience if you find yourself in Amsterdam.  A hidden treasure!

(All images and videos are from the Tropenmuseum)

Exploring deCordova

A lovely afternoon spent wandering around the grounds of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.  Just a short drive from Boston to the woodsy town of Lincoln, Massachusetts.  The deCordova was established in 1950 and is set on 30 acres of rolling hills.  At any given time there about 60 works of art on display.  You can meander about at your own pace.  Such a treat to have this museum in my backyard.  A nice reminder to explore what is around you.

deCordova
Fletcher Benton, Donut with 3 Balls
deCordova
Letha Wilson, PLATFORM 19
deCordova
Noémie Goudal, PLATFORM 20
deCordova
Joseph Wheelwright, Listening Stone 1985.  A special sculpture by Mr. Wheelwright who is the late husband of my son’s third grade teacher.  His extraordinary talent is left for all of us to admire.

deCordova

deCordova
An amazing new exhibition by Ian McMahon.  Tether is a sculpture created with air and plaster. It looks like giant pillows but it is far from that and extremely fragile.
deCordova
To be honest my 11-year-old was not thrilled for this outing.  After five minutes on the open field his curiosity kicked in!
deCordova
Yayoi Kusama, Where the Lights in My Heart is a spectacular outdoor exhibit where you walk inside a mirror polished stainless steel chamber with glass mirrors.  You get to experience a never-ending universe.

deCordova

deCordova
Rolling hills and structures that grace the property
deCordova
Nari Ward, Shoe tips with libation, G.O.A.T.  The sneakers are a mystery.
deCordova
I love this working honeybee hive sculpture that is buzzing with activity.  Created by Jarret Mellenbrunch, Haven 2014
deCordova
A new installation by Nancy Winship Milliken, Pasture Song. The combination of reclaimed cello bow strings, horsehairs, and little help of some wind, all together create soft music.  Amazing!
deCordova
Jim Dine, Two Big Black Hearts

Be sure to check out the website for updates on new installations and fun activities.  The park is open everyday from 10-5.  There is cafe to grab a light bite and a well curated gift shop to find a souvenir.  deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is certainly a highlight of this area but there are also other lovely historical towns and places to explore within a short drive of the park.  Walden Pond certainly comes to mind.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Anytime

Spring in the city is the best.  All the trees and flowers are blooming. There is renewed energy that is contagious  with the city dwellers and the tourists.  Everyone is always looking for places to experience.  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has been on my list.  The recent April showers presented the perfect time to enjoy the Gardner Museum.  I had one goal, the Courtyard.

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

To me, the Courtyard is a year round city oasis.  The space is peaceful.  The sound of trickling water and soft floral scents combine to create a tranquil and beautiful  environment.  To just sit is enough.  The Courtyard is a gem that is accessible for all to enjoy.

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

I found myself pausing at patterns, textiles, bold colors, and wall coverings.  The interior design world and the fashion world are extensions of each other.  I immediately start thinking of Dries Van Noten, the Belgian genius who is delivering wearable art through his exquisite taste in fabrics and patterns.  Walking through the Gardner had me thinking about the current trending floral and bold prints.

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

The Gardner is stunning.  One must look up or you will miss beauty.

Gardner Museum

Gardner Museum

I really enjoyed Bharti Kher’s Sketchbooks and Diaries.  Kher spent a month as an Artist -in-Residence at the Gardner Museum.  Her contemporary point view is delivered through her use of sketches and drawings. Kher has a playful perspective while incorporating her focus on motherhood and gender.

Gardner Museum

My favorite piece, John Singer Sargent, El Jaleo.  The setting that Isabella curated especially for this piece of art makes it come alive.

Gardner Museum

The Gardner was founded by Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1903.  Her love of travel inspired her to collect art and untimely share that love with Boston.  Her passion, commitment, vision, and spirit is still very much present.  The Gardner has an amazing and impressive art collection.  It is also offers music, dance, and special performances.  So spend as little or as much time as you wish.  I highly recommend making a lunch reservation ahead of time at Cafe G.