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A new life for Musée de l’Homme

I never knew Musée de l’Homme in its past incarnation. For as long as I can remember – well, six years apparently – it has been closed for renovation. Unbeknownst to me, I have actually seen a good portion of its (former) collection of Asian, African, American and Oceanian ethnography appropriated to fill the legacy project of a certain Monsieur Chirac. How lucky for Musée du Quai Branly and what uncertain time it left Musée de l’Homme, as its European ethnographic collection was also packed away to Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) in Marseille.

Musée de l'Homme

Musée de l'Homme

From emptying corridors came opportunity to change its mission. Musée de l’Homme evolved and is making a come back with fresh look and a restart. Housed within Palais de Chaillot, I need not have to emphasise what great view it has of the Eiffel Tower, do I? Thanks to my friend Céline, F and I got a sneak peak of it today before the museum opens its door to the public on Saturday, 17 October, and for the first three days, entry to the museum will be free.

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Jean Paul Gaultier at Grand Palais

I love my museum passes. Main perk? I can drop in to any exhibition I’d like to see at any time and not even have to worry about the queue. Downside? I get complacent and put off certain visits until near the end of the exhibition period. Which was exactly what happened with that of Jean Paul Gaultier – days before it closes!

JPG @ Grand Palais

JPG @ Grand Palais

Admittedly, I had not really planned to go and see it, and was thinking I’d give it a miss. Afterall, I know next to zero about fashion and trends, and with a bunch of things happening in the day-to-day, this exhibition was placed low on the priority list. However, my curiosity was piqued when friends who have seen it found it well-curated, along with a very cryptic hint that it is “special”.

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Nationalmuseet: peeking into the Viking’s past

My ignorance about the history of Denmark (and Scandinavian countries) shows. Sure, we have this notion of Viking Age that reigned supreme, and I don’t know about you, but I have embarassingly little knowledge of Danes’ cultural identity, their nation, their kinship, etc. We popped in to the National Museum of Denmark, hoping to learn a few more things, and then we were duly lured by the bright sunshine outside to leave… Terrible, I know.

NMD

NMD

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SMK: a remarkable collection of art

When you live in a city like Paris, spoilt for choice of museums that each has its own niche collection, it is actually refreshing to visit the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, where seven hundred years of art can be found under one roof. Each room we stepped in has its broad theme, some pieces bearing familiar names while others form new lessons in (European) art for me. They made me yearn for some free time to follow an art history class…

SMK

SMK

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Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration

What is the common denominator between an immigrant, an expatriate, a foreigner, an alien and a non-citizen? Me. And countless others like me. We who fit the aforementioned, albeit with situations that vary in thousand shades of paperwork grade. Time and time again, the debate, in particular the pitting of an immigrant against an expatriate, can be painfully divisive. Just search for “immigrant vs expat” and you’ll see all kind of perception attached to these words, of social standing, origin, wealth, skin colour, intention. The fight is ugly.

Museum of Immigration History

Museum of Immigration History

The topic of immigration is a sensitive one and the question of integration has been contentiously thrashed out, in public and in private alike. At times of economic hardship, the subject is paraded – not only in France, mind – like an evil which must be stopped (UKIP’s Nigel Farage would like everyone to go back to where they came from, thank you very much) and the rhetorics filled with “selected truths”. My visit over the weekend to the Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (i.e. Museum of Immigration History) was therefore an interesting one, one where I get to explore briefly the stories of the people who make France the nation it is today.

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Jeff Koons – a retrospective

File this under “arts I do not understand”.

I was at Centre Pompidou with S to check out the retrospective exhibition on Jeff Koons, famed for its balloon dogs. As usual, I entered into the exhibition rather naively and knowing next to nothing about the artist. I feel reading up too much about an artist tends to colour one’s judgement since the articles will inevitably contain praises and criticisms; I like forming my own opinion without voices of others in my head.

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons

What an eclectic mix of work. Sure enough, there was the giant balloon dog about half-way through the exhibition, but the retrospective began with a series of work “Pre-New” and “The New” based on vacuum cleaners (huh?) and advertisements. I was, simply put, confused. The section on “Banality” contains mostly porcelain-based sculptures, including a rather creepy one of MJ with his monkey. Right-io. Next came “Celebration”, which is prettier and happier, with balloons, heart, and more balloons.

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The perks of museum passes

Let me just put it out there – if anyone ever feel like giving me something but not sure what makes a good gift, one of the sure things would be an annual museum pass. It doesn’t matter if it’s a solo or a duo card – although the latter is handy to bring F or a friend with me – as long as I get to enjoy the many different exhibitions around town. ;)

Museum passes

Some of the perks attached to these passes?
– No queuing to enter a museum nor its exhibition(s)
– Share the joy of museum visits without queuing (with duo card)
– Multiple visits to interesting (temporary) exhibitions
– Discounts for purchases at the gift shop
– Discounts for guided visits or exhibition conferences
– Free/discounted tickets of affiliated sites/museums
– Free/discounted tickets to linked/special events

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Postcards: Louvre (FR)

While going through my stash of photos taken last year – way too many of them! – so I can select a few for printing, I noticed I’ve a good few photos taken while I was at the Louvre or in the vicinity. There are probably more lost in some of the folders that I don’t have time to give much scrutiny to…

Louvre

Louvre

I must admit that I don’t go there as often as I’d like to because I’m not a fan of the massive crowd that jostles to get in and see only the “highlights” when there are so many other gems to look out for. I make special efforts to go there, however, when I get to go on THATLou hunt with Daisy. Now, she’s the woman who knows it inside out! ;)

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Fondation Louis Vuitton

When you are wealthy and could dictate the kind of legacy that will bear your (brand) name, why not hire Frank Gehry to build a museum with unique vessel-like architecture in the splendid setting of the Bois de Boulogne?

Fondation Louis Vuitton, opened with great fanfare and ticket giveaways last weekend, will house art works from Bernard Arnault’s personal collection as well as those owned by the LVMH group. In return for the permission to erect this monumental building, its ownership will be transferred to the city of Paris in 55 years.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton

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Recently, at the Grand Palais

We are terrible at keeping up with exhibitions. Never mind that we have annual passes that allow us to visit on multiple occasions throughout the period of the exhibitions. Instead, we typically wait till a good portion of the periods is over, then either rushed through them or risked missing them altogether. Currently, in the Grand Palais, two exhibitions are taking place: both started in early May, with one ending in about a week and another in 3 weeks. Armed with our Carte Sésame, we headed over one evening this week.

Exhibition at Grand Palais

The installation of Monumenta this year is by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Russian-born artists, who brought us “The Strange City”. Indeed it is a peculiar one, for even by the main entryway, a large probe-like installation beamed changing colours amidst strange music, if you can call it that. And scattered in a few other “rooms”, there are wood carvings of flying angels and weird city layouts. Neither F nor I know what to make of these.

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THATd’Or – ready, set, hunt!

Treasure hunt in a museum? And one of my favourite museums to boot? Yes, please!

Let me cue you in with some background about the hunt. Treasure Hunt at the Louvre aka THATLou is the brainchild of Daisy de Plume, and it is a wonderful initiative which combines her entrepreneurial skills and her love of good arts. At THATLou, participants disperse across the many wings and floors of the Louvre in search of artworks which Daisy has challenged the groups to find. The group which earns the most point (by finding the pieces and/or answer the bonus questions) will be crowned winner of the treasure hunt!

Musée d'Orsay

When Daisy announced bringing the hunt over to the Musée d’Orsay, nicknamed THATd’Or, as one of the events hosted by the AFMO’s Avant Garde, I knew I had to try to make it this time. Possible obstacle? It was slated for Thursday… uh-oh, it’s a work day!

I was delighted when Daisy tweeted back “THATd’Or @ 19h45” – perfect!

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Free visits on Sunday

Museums are teeming with all thing curious, interesting, beautiful, ugly, etc that I could spend an entire day in a large one or hop from a small one to another, and would most likely happily repeat the same the next day. (I even own a couple of museum cards so I have unlimited access all year round to these museums without having to queue for ticket each time). Monuments, on the other hand, showcase history through architecture and events that occur on these sites. No less fascinating on their own.

Interior of Versailles Palace

Cue: free museums and monuments Sunday

In Paris-talk, this Sunday refers to the first Sunday of the month. Free entry to check out something different and informative each month – sweet deal!

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Musée Marmottan Monet

Musée Marmottan Monet is a gem. A little out of the way perhaps, it sits just at the eastern edge of Bois de Boulogne. There are no pomps to announce its presence just beyond a small playground in mainly, from what I gathered, a residential area. However, what’s hidden behind the seemingly plain façade is another story altogether.

The museum is one primarily dedicated to Impressionism, an art movement which I can’t seem to get enough of. I may as well admit now that I hold an annual pass to Musée d’Orsay so I could visit anytime in the year to indulge in my whims for the romance in Impressionist works, not to mention the added bonus of entry to Musée de l’Orangerie whenever I wish. Paris was central to the birth of Impressionism and I believe no better city could have been chosen for it to flourish. Today, Paris is also the best city to admire many of the masterpieces produced during the short time-span of the movement.

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