A day of culture
It’s been a long day. After our early morning fishing expedition, we returned to our cosy hotel and relaxed for a while before meeting for our second breakfast. Needless to say, it was rather more substantial than the first!
Suitably fortified, we set out under blue skies towards the station where just across the street was the Applied Arts Museum – the MKG.
We’d decided to make today a cultural one, with three museums on our list.
This one immediately won me over, with a temporary exhibition of fashion illustration. Having chatted to the Kingston University students recently about this, the subject was up there in my mind and the Gustafson sketches which were in the first room caught my eye straight away.
In a different way, so did the illustrations by Antonio.
I especially enjoyed seeing the original sketch alongside the eventual magazine spread. Fascinating!
The museum itself was really well laid out. Fairly small, the temptation to put everything on show had been resisted, though it was amusing to see part of the archive laid out as an exhibition too.
In the Buddhist themed room, the white space flattered the few exhibits and showed them to best effect.
But just around the corner hung a beautiful William Morris tapestry, effectively lit and sadly not at all well photographed by yours truly.
As always, the fine details made the whole and the placing of the piece was perfect.
Because, just through a door we found ourselves in a rather less bountiful Wiener Werkstatte setting. Two sides of the same coin, so to speak.
Throughout the museum we’d come across fluorescent orange flashes, highlighting the exhibits of doubtful or unconfirmed provenance, but in the last room, this theme was clarified and extended to tell the story of Raubkunst – looted artworks. Really interesting for us to learn about and prompting us to find out more, the story of several pieces featured in the museum highlighted the issue very well indeed.
Our next stop was to be the Art Museum – the Kunsthalle. Now here I felt we ought to have done our homework a little more effectively, because it’s undergoing renovation. OK, so as the banners state, it’s still open and indeed, the people were still flocking through the doors. But sadly, there are so few artworks to see, it’s hardly worth the effort.
The building itself is lovely. But this is all the part undergoing restoration and the exhibitions are currently only in the new concrete part at the end of the pathway. So, a good 75% or more is closed.
The cafe is still open, though, so we were ok for a while!
A few choice pieces have been singled out for exhibition during the works and so it was here we began our visit. At the black spot.
Beyond the stark white reception area, a more conventional gallery space had been engineered and inside were hung a concentrated collection of the stars of the show.
That meant that all the visitors to the gallery found their way into these dozen or so smallish rooms too, making for a somewhat crowded and overwhelming experience.
The special exhibition was still more crowded (in spite of the image the photo offers) and eventually I decided to focus on observing the people rather than the paintings. The characters with whom we shared the lift were worthy of a study alone – expensively dressed in a very European style (a little haute OSKA!) and ever so slightly vague, if you get my drift.
But actually, I found the building rather interesting too!
Time to move on, then. Never far from the “ugly” church near our hotel, we made our way to the U Bahn and took the same route as we had this morning, staying on for one more stop to St Pauli.
We’d planned to make the Hamburg history museum the last stop of the day and just as well, for at least four of our six feet were beginning to protest.
Eventually we found our way in and sure enough, here was another wonderful collection of interesting ephemera which told the story of the city.
The thing is, whilst the other two were admiring model ships and suchlike, I was trying like mad to remember what I did with the cloakroom receipt for our coats. I wondered if I’d actually been given one at all and then came to the rotten conclusion that I’d probably wandered off before the cloakroom attendant had returned and tried to give me the thing.
Oh well, I’m sure I wasn’t the first to do that and at least I could explain auf Deutsch that I’m not so good at conzentrieren at times!
So we enjoyed the rest of the museum, finding pictures to make one birthday boy’s heart sing and learning a bit about the Hansestadt as we went.
We learned about ropemaking and how the Reeperbahn came about.
Finally, the historic exhibit to make us all feel ancient – a room from 1990. It wouldn’t be quite so bad were it not for the fact that our studio desks are rather too similar to those in the display.
And of course, now I had to retrieve our coats without a ticket.
I grovelled in my best German. “Es tut mir sehr leid, aber…” But the cloakroom attendant was having none of it.
“Ohne ticket, keinen mantel”.
“Was?!” My German began to flow, as it does in such circumstances! I suggested that perhaps we’d need to wait until the last people had left the museum and then there would be three coats left…and if she insisted we do that, then……well….
She quietly picked up a ticket from the desk at that point. How many coats were there? Off she went to retrieve whatever was hanging on that particular hook. Sure enough, there were our three coats. Unsmiling, she handed them over and unapologetic, we took them and left.
We love it here though, and moments like these are few and far between. We satisfied the inner Bavarian in us all this evening with supper at the Hofbräuhausjust down the street and agreed that however tasty and locally authentic labkaus might be, there’s nothing quite like a solid dish of Schweinshaxen and Knödel to keep body and soul together.