News and Reviews

Your Worldwide Museum News in 5 Little Bites…

1) You may or may not be aware that there are bombs over Israel right now, but the Tel Aviv Museum is very aware of the fact and has moved a portion of their collection to safety.

2) And, speaking of museums in war zones, here’s a sneak peek at the soon-to-reopen National Museum of Iraq.

3) Another reopening to look forward to, or in this case downward at, is the underground passageways beneath the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.

4) Get a spot in line now, this is going to be one of the biggest shows of the year. The largest Salvador Dali retrospective in more than 30 years will make the Centre Pompidou the place to be when it opens this week in Paris.

5) And, finally, a little food for thought. Does the art world have a demographics problem?


Museums To See: Kroller-Muller Museum

In no particular order, the museums, galleries, and cultural experiences on my To-See list. Let’s get started…

Kroller-Muller Museum, Gelderland, The Netherlands


Photo by Jordanhill School D&T Dept via Flickr.

Imagine approaching the fences, with a series of sand dunes, heathlands, and an assortment of wildlife lying beyond. Next thing you know, you’re pedaling along the paths aboard a glistening white bicycle–it’s not yours, mind you, but rather a free mode of transport available to visitors. Along the way, you may see a variety of deer, a wild boar, or hear the bleating call of a noisy mouflon, but reconnecting with nature is not your primary goal here–you’re here for the Van Goghs.

Where are you? Why the Hoge Veluwe National Park, of course, which is one of two privately owned national parks in the Netherlands and home to the Kroller-Muller Museum. What started as the private collection of Helene Kroller-Mueller–who used her taste, husband’s money, and an advisor’s eye to create a collection of over 11,000 works and the world’s largest private holdings of Van Gogh masterpieces–eventually was handed over to the government’s care during an economic downturn and subsequently turned into a museum.


Roze perzikbomen/Pink peach trees ('Souvenir de Mauve'). c.30 March 1888 Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)

At first glance, the Kroller-Muller Museum is reminiscent of the Mies van der Rohe-designed Farnsworth House near Plano, Illinois. All clean lines, glass for miles, modern. However, and I mean no offense to Plano or Mies, the Farnsworth House is an appetizer to the Kroller-Muller entree. As if the 55 sq km park surrounding the museum and the stellar collection weren’t enough of an enticement, the accompanying outdoor sculpture garden  should be sufficient to attract even the most tepid of museum goers. Ultimately, it’s a place where art, architecture, and nature unite in wonderful harmony.

Here are some more shots of the Kroller-Muller Museum…


Photos by (clockwise from upper left): sjdunphy, Fiona Bradley, ctsnow, and sjdunphy. All via Flickr.

Have you been to the Kroller-Muller Museum? Send us your pictures at <editor at museumist dot com>.


Where Good Food Is Part of the Mission

My lunch at Fika.

It’s been a while since I lived in a place where the winter chill crept in by mid-October, but as the temperatures in Minnesota started to fall I was feeling positively Nordic. So it was that I found myself seated at a bare white table in the newly designed wing of the American Swedish Institute.

Now, the American Swedish Institute has a lovely collection of textiles, is strong in works by Swedish and Swedish-American artists, and boasts an extensive library and archives that shed light on the Swedish-American experience, but I did not come for any of that. I’m here for the food.


Cafeteria at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. Photo by Osbornb via Flickr.

The idea of the museum restaurant is far from a new. After all, spending hours on your feet poring over art and artifacts is going to leave even the most hardy of museum visitors craving refreshment. Most museum eateries fall into two general categories: cafeteria (see The Metropolitan Museum of Art) or high-end dining (the much-loved Oleum restaurant at Barcelona’s Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya comes to mind). However, while both types will satisfy your hunger for rest and refreshment, many museum restaurants seem to lack an essential ingredient: namely, how do the muchies relate to the mission?

The American Swedish Institute successfully answered that question with the opening of Fika this past July. Under the direction of noted local chef Michael Fitzgerald, this minimally-decorated cafe not only bridges the gap between cafeteria and haute cuisine, but also enables the oft-opposing ideas of revenue generating restaurant and museum mission to meld together. For a museum that aims to “serve as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden,” providing a venue for people to engage in this exchange over a plate of delicious, seasonal, and affordable Swedish food seems like a no-brainer. I mean, even Ikea knows that the process of browsing endless affordable Swedish design products is made infinitely better if there is a possibility of enjoying a Swedish meatball at the end of the maze.

Scenes from the Neue Galerie's Cafe Sabarsky. Photo by stevendamron via Flickr.

While museum mission-friendly restaurants like Fika seem particularly well-suited to ethnic museums–after all, food is an essentially element of a culture–other types of museums have succeeded in blending their restaurants with their missions. The Neue Galerie in New York is one such museum, with their two Viennese-inspired cafes serving as a perfect complement to their collection of early-20th century German and Austrian design.


So, readers, what other museum restaurants can you think of that succeed in reflecting their institution’s mission?