Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumnal Cities, Exhibitions and Museums

Rainy Autumn in London via Pinterest

 Autumn in Paris via Pinterest

As I mentioned in my previous post, Autumn is well and truly under way and I am starting to dream about visiting cities, for me this time of year is the best time for going to the great cities of the Western Hemisphere something about the cold tang in the air, strolling through leaf littered parks and streets, huddling under an umbrella before making a dash into cosy cafes, pubs and bars, afternoon tea in fine establishments and the more obvious attractions of the grand department stores, shopping, theatre, opera, galleries and museums...

I could spend hours at the Louvre in Paris or the V&A in London but sometimes it's worth taking a look at what's going on at smaller venues, here are some that have caught my eye and if I am lucky enough to find myself in Paris or London in the near future I will definitely be checking them out...Paris up first, two exhibitions which have piqued my curiosity.

Exhibition Interieurs Romantiques at the Musee de La Vie Romantique, Paris 
 exhibition organised by Daniel Marchesseau, director of the museum, this time with Gail S. Davidson from the Cooper-Hewitt as invited curator. 
 This is a collection of ninety watercolours of interiors collected over the past thirty years by the American dealer and collector Eugene V. Thaw and his wife Clare E. Thaw. The whole collection has been given to the Cooper-Hewitt museum in New York.

Edouard Petrovitch Hau (Estonie, actif en Russie, 1807-1887) 
Petit Cabinet de l’impératrice Alexandra Feodorovna, 1830-1835
© Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, photo Matt Flynn

James Roberts (Angleterre, vers 1800-1867)
Le Cabinet de travail du roi Louis-Philippe a Neuilly 1845
 © Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, photo Matt Flynn

C. Rath (Autriche probablement, actif dans les années 1870)
Alcôve dans le salon de la grande duchesse Anna de Mecklenburg-Schwerin, 1877
© Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, photo Matt Flynn

Hilaire Thierry (actif de 1815 à 1825) Un salon dans le goût Restauration, début des années 1820. (détail)
© Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, photo Matt Flynn

Le Salon de George Sand, Paris musée de la Vie romantique 
© Musée de la vie romantique / Roger-Viollet

Musée de la Vie Romantique
16 rue Chaptal
75009 Paris.
Telephone : 01 55 31 95 67

Open every day from 10 am until 6 pm, except Mondays and public holidays.

Tickets at 7 Euros ( 5 Euros reduced price, 3.50 Euros half-price)

Hardbound fully illustrated catalogue 30 Euros. (The museum has a small book shop).

The easiest and best choice of public transport is the 68 bus.
The exhibition runs until 13th January 2013 

Meanwhile over at the Musee Quai Branly, Paris...

Why is long hair supposed to be feminine ? Where do the beliefs about red heads come from? All these hairy questions are explored in this terrific exhibition on hair and their sexy mythologie.
Head for the Musée du Quai Branly to understand how hair has become an army of massive seduction.
If you don't have enough time, don't go grey overnight, the venue is open until June !
Not to be missed !

text from here


Musée du quai Branly
37, quai Branly
75007 Paris
Tel: 01 47 53 68 00

 The exhibition runs until 14th July 2013

 Now lets go to London where there are no shortage of small museums, in fact there are so many small museums in London that whatever your interests you will find one that appeals, most of them are listed and include details on opening hours and directions on Time Outs wonderful site here
I have already visited a few on various trips but here are a couple on my yet to visit list: 

Linley Sambourne House

 Linley Sambourne House is the Kensington house where from 1875 Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne lived with his wife and two children, and provides a chance to see a late-Victorian, middle-class home that has survived largely unchanged. Linley Sambourne House was passed on from one generation of the family to the next and almost all the original decoration remains intact, the rooms filled with the furniture and personal possessions the Sambournes left behind. A huge archive of diaries, papers, bills and letters also survived, providing an exceptionally detailed picture of daily life in the house. Around Christmas each year, atmospheric Victorian Twilight Encounters tours are held, which explore the seedier side of the artist's work.

Text from Time Out

18 Stafford Terrace, W8 7BH

Sir John Soane's Museum 

This is one place where the term 'spring cleaning' has probably never once been uttered: Sir John Soane's Museum in Holborn. The museum is actually the townhouse of one of Georgian London's most famous architects, Sir John Soane, the man behind the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture Gallery - and someone who was evidently not a fan of the 'less is more' school of interior design.

Soane was an obsessive collector of art, furniture and architectural ornamentation, a hobby which he pursued partly for enjoyment and partly for research. In the early nineteenth century he turned his house into a museum to which 'amateurs and students' should have access. The result is truly amazing.

Much of the museum's appeal derives from its domestic setting. Rooms are modestly sized but Soane's ingenious designs channel and direct natural daylight and expand available space, including semi-secret doors that swing out like cabinets to display his many paintings (works by Canaletto, Turner and two series by Hogarth). It's only when you step beyond into the rear of the house that the sheer oddness of the building confronts you. Every space in this warren of rooms is filled with some artistic object, in most cases classical, be that a bust, column or statue. For a real 'wow' factor, search out The Monumental Court, a multistory affair stuffed with an array of sculpted stone detailing that was removed from ancient and medieval buildings.
At the lowest level of the court is a sarcophagus made of alabaster that's so thin it's almost translucent. It was discovered in a tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings before being removed by nineteenth-century treasure hunters. Soane bought it after the British Museum declined the opportunity; he was so elated, he partied for three days.

There are also numerous examples of Soane's eccentricity, not least the imaginary 'cell' - a set of rooms in the basement - set aside for 'Padre Giovanni', a fictional monk invented by Soane. The yard even contains the 'Monk's grave' topped by a headstone engraved with the words 'Alas! Poor Fanny!' - the grave actually contains the corpse of Mrs Soane's lapdog, Fanny.

What you see at Soane's townhouse is just as he intended it to be. He wangled a private act of Parliament to set up the museum and stipulate that its contents should be left alone 'as nearly as possible'. His wish is now even closer to perfect fulfilment thanks to a £6 million project to move the museum shop and facilities into neighbouring buildings, which should be completed by mid-2012.
Be warned, though: the curator only allows a certain number of visitors into the house at any one time, so you may have to queue briefly out on the pavement before being admitted. It's worth the wait.

Text from Time Out

13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2

 Well there's a few to be going on with, note I have only mentioned Paris and London, I am currently fantasising of a Christmas Shopping trip to New York, in December, it's been so long since I visited NYC...


  1. Temptations galore!
    That top photograph took me back years, coat collar up, hurrying through the gardens to the Embankment to catch the tube after work or crossing to the South Bank for some music.
    The Soane was not far either...a free afternoon would find me there, just enjoying the odd combination of domesticity and artefacts.
    I don't know when I'll be in Europe, but you've ensured that I will keep an eye out for non main stream exhibitions.

    1. Oh you paint a lovely picture Fly. That's the key to the smaller museums, they take an hour or two to go round and absorb, unlike the bigger one's where really you need to spend days in them, especially the Louvre,time is so precious these days especially if you are on a short city break.

  2. Hello Dash

    John Soane's Museum is calling me. I would love to be visiting London which I love in winter time and even when raining.

    Hope you have a wonderful tim in NYC

    Thanks for sharing

    1. Helen I really love cities in winter especially in the run up to Christmas, all the sparkling lights and cosy atmosphere, New York is just a distant dream at the moment but I should love to go. X

  3. Thank you for the beautiful images as well as the links

  4. Dear "Dash",

    I expect you'd enjoy reading the New York Times's piece on the Musee de Quai Branly exhibition. go to:

    For some reason that proably wouldn't bear much analysis, I find the notion of an exhibition-devoted-entirely-to-hair intelectually intriguing, but my good guess is that I'd be fairly creeped-out by the actual show.

    Thanks for the intriguing posting (and just to be frank, albeit at the risk of seeming completely driven by various neuroses?...I've gone to the Soane house twice over the years; each time, I was sort of overwhelemed by claustrophobia and had to leave. Strange, but true....)


    David Terry

    1. David thank you for the link it was very interesting and you are right some of the exhibits are a little creepy! Our relationship with hair is fascinating, it is so important to us and yet we also find it repellent, I think we like hair where it should be, firmly on our heads! I have an artist friend who went through a phase of making beautiful works out of human hair which she got from hairdressing salons, she did not mind working with it as she knew the hair had been washed before it was cut, she exhibited some of the works (they were beautiful) and much admired from a distance but when people got up close and realised they were made from human hair you should have seen the looks on their faces!

      I have yet to visit the Soane Museum but I have visited a few other Georgian and Victorian residences/museums in London and elsewhere, they can be very claustrophobic and austere. Yet at the same time they inspire us. Today we buy antiques, heritage paints, some of us who live in period properties take inspiration from the past and try to keep the properties true to their roots, we mix the old with the new, I think most us were we to live in a time capsule property from the Georgian or Victorian era would definitely suffer from various neuroses!

      Gosh, that was a long reply, thank you for your thought provoking comment David. X

  5. Gorgeous post the hair exhibition sounds and looks fascinating! Might have to take a peep. Have a lovely Autumn weekend Dash.
    Carla x

    1. Thank you Carla, wishing you a lovely weekend too.

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  7. The Pinterest photos are lovely... the first three watercolors would make amazing jigsaw puzzles... the room with the red ceiling was actually meant to be in my house, can't imagine how it got mislaid.

    1. Marcheline, your right the watercolours would make excellent jigsaw puzzles, you will have to get onto the Cooper-Hewitt museum and tell them! X

  8. "Beliefs about redheads" "Christmas shopping expedition in New York"--well, of course this post (can't we come up with a better word?) piqued my interest!!!

    How mad I am at myself that we didn't get to see each other this past month...

    1. I am mad too Heather, never mind we will make up for it, of course I thought instantly of you "Beliefs about redheads!" What could they possibly mean? If we cannot make it ourselves We will have to send Carla and get her to shed some light on it! X

  9. Haha I went to the Soane Museum last weekend with a friend, talk about sensory overload! I wouldn't have thought it possible to get so much into one small house. I think I shall have to go at least another two or three times just to take it in. Did you notice the intaglios in the small cabinet rooms, so beautiful.

  10. Miss Rayne now I know I have to visit and I will be sure to look out for the intaglios. X

  11. Delightful.....Dennis Severs house is my favourite 'living' museum in Spitlefields...I so want to go to NYC am planning I visit back myself!!

    1. Thank you so much YAH, I have been racking my brain trying to remember the name of Dennis Severs house! Thanks to your comment you have done it for me, I have never been but keep seeing it on various TV programs and it's on the top of my list on my next trip to London. Found some lovely pictures of it on the internet, it's so otherworldly, I may have to post about it...

  12. My own home is also somewhere that has never encountered Spring Cleaning lol!

    Excellent images and info for those of us who like the small museums for something a little bit different :-

    Ali x

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