Two Jaw Dropping Museum Collections in Boston

Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaThe Harvard Museum of Natural History is a wonderful gem  located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

With a mission to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, the Harvard Museum of Natural History draws on the University’s collections and research to present a historic and interdisciplinary exploration of science and nature.

I try to go once a year to take in some of my favorite museum collections. Today I am sharing two of my favorite permanent exhibits. What is really wonderful about these is you can see them anytime, they never go away…

The Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants are the most delicate and exquisite glass models of botany ever seen. These unique pieces were commissioned by Professor George Goodale, founder of Harvard’s Botanical Museum, who wanted life-like representations of the plant kingdom to teach botany in his classrooms.

From 1886 to 1936, father and son glass artisans team Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka of the Blaschka Studio, Hosterwitz, Germany, made these beauties entirely of blown and fused glass, with wire reinforcements hidden inside the glass as needed.

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaRows and rows of plants in gorgeous polished wood and glass cases adorn the exhibit. Above, a glass banana plant and fruit. Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAbove, a glass water lily. Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaTools of the trade used to make the glass plants. Colored glass was used for many pieces and, in some cases, some plants were enameled with a thin wash of colored ground glass or metal oxides and heated until the material fused to the model. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

In another room, is the extraordinary museum collection of rocks and minerals. This renovated gallery displays thousands of rare minerals and sparkling gemstones in both rough and cut examples, including a 1,600-pound amethyst geode from Brazil. Exhibits highlight new research and offer a broad overview of the dynamic processes and events that formed our planet and that have shaped its continuing evolution.

To visit this room for someone in love with nature, color and texture, is equivalent to dying and going to heaven:

Photo credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo credit: Barbara Elza hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! Happy weekend!

Barbara

Death, Life Goes On, and Musée D’Orsay

You may be wondering where this blogger was…

Earlier this month I left Boston for an unexpected trip to France. Or, rather, I should say this was an expected trip with no pre-determined date…My father in-law, ailing with cancer, passed away. I adored him. The circumstances of his death were such (a year after his wife)  that the whole family left for Paris on Passover/Easter weekend. The boys, my husband and I simply had to say goodbye. Goodbye to an era,  to a wonderful and joyous man-the family rock-, goodbye to a beloved home, a source of happy memories for our boys and family. How many BD or “bandes dessinées” (Graphic Novels are an institution in France) were read in the attic, nibbling on crunchy “cornets à la pistache” (pistachio ice cream cones), sprawled out on the floor? How many times did we sit out on the bench in the yard to enjoy the magnolias, the collection of roses, the lilacs, the lovingly cared for garden of this retired couple?

The house was like an empty seashell. No one to greet us, no more smells of delicious meals being prepared in the French kitchen, no laughter, no naps with les “mots croisés” (crossword puzzles) seated next to grandpa and grandma. We went through the motions, buried our beloved, met with family, and tried to drink in the home one last time. My teenage son took detailed photographs of every possible angle of the house, from the views from the windows, to the cherished furniture to moss growing on the stone steps.

Outside the family home. Photo Julien Herpers.
View from inside the family home, upstairs window. Paris Suburbs. Photo Julien Herpers.

We had one uplifting goal: After the funeral, we would all go to Paris spend the day.      We had a fabulous day! Nothing like Paris to uplift the spirits. Such beauty!

Entrance hall of the Musée d’Orsay. Check out the light fixture! Photo Julien Herpers.
Another view of Entrance hall of the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers.
Stunning view inside the Musée d’Orsay. 2012. Photo Julien Herpers.

As I take you along this tour of the museum, note the gorgeous and gigantic “horloges” (clocks). Of course trains needed to be on time, and horloges such as these gigantic ones helped travelers but also Parisians check the time.

On the Musée d’Orsay website, one can find this bit of history: In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first “work of art” in the Musee d’Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.

© Musée D’Orsay Gare D’Orsay as it was in the early 20th century.

 

Stunning architectural details inside the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers.

We were not allowed to take photographs of the art, but it is well worth a detour next time you visit Paris.

Upstairs, there is a gallery with a gigantic clock offering breathtaking views of Paris:

Inside and through l’horloge géante at the Musée d’Orsay. The musée has views of the Seine River. Photo Julien Herpers.
Another view from the clock of Musée D’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers. Note the tourists at bottom of photo, allows you to see the proportions of this “clock-window”.
View from a large glass pane at left of “clock-window”, from the 5th floor of the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers.

And now, for the grand finale! We were able to go eat at the Café Campana, a superb contemporary space created by the Campana Brothers, a Brazilian Designing duo, to replace the Café de l’Horloge, which was originally in the space.

Imagine an esoteric, whimsical design, with gigantic bell shaped golden light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, strange, curly red metal partitions, another massive “clock-window”, upright sea blue metallic sheets acting as walls here and there, unusually shaped chairs and simply delicious patisseries:

Café Campana designed by the Campana brothers, 5th level, Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.
Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.
Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.

I could not stop raving about the designs! Such whimsy brought smiles to our faces and were the perfect antidote to our mournful spirits.

The author enjoying an amazing Café Liégeois at Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay.
Is this even possible????Giant Pistachio éclairs on curly gold trays in the Café Campana. Muséed’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers. (a bit blurry but hard to focus as the line of tourists behind us was pressing for their turn to sit and indulge in these fantasy-turned- reality éclairs!)
Chair design at Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.
Another view of bell shaped pendants. Musée d’Orsay. photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.

 

Detail of light pendant at the Café Campana, Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.

Au Revoir, Paris!

 

Station de métro Solférino. Paris. Photo Julien Herpers.