We have enjoyed a few weeks of family time over the holiday break. Much of it has been spent on our favorite family past-time: museums! We have seen the Ashurbanipal exhibit at the British Museum, an excellent (but fairly gruesome) look at the reign of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (669-631 BC). It is beautifully curated and displayed. This is Leah’s area of specialisation (her degree is in classical Near Eastern studies with a minor in religious studies, and a specialisation in neo-Assyrian art and archeology – how is that for a mouthful?) so it is an obvious choice. His regime combined the brutal and the beautiful, and this unlikely fusion is stunningly displayed.
We then saw the Anni Albers exhibit at the Tate Modern. If you are at all interested in textiles and can possibly get to London this month, this is a must see. (It runs until January 27th; book ahead if you go.) Albers was a student at the famous Bauhaus, where she studied with Paul Klee among others. As the Tate says about the exhibition “Annie Albers combined the ancient craft of hand-weaving with the language of modern art”. This exhibition is a knockout! In addition to her own pieces – absolutely beautiful – her research, and many of the source materials for her seminal book on weaving are part of the exhibition. This is a treasure trove for people interested in weaving techniques from around the world and across the centuries. There is also a collection of correspondence, including letters from Buckminster Fuller, which are fascinating. As a knitter, I was particularly intrigued by her exploration of knots – her knot drawings blew me away. Twenty years ago, we toured the Bauhaus in Dessau with the girls. I have a photo somewhere of Emma hanging halfway through an internal window separating Klee and Kandinsky’s portions of the two-family dwelling they shared at the Bauhaus.
This was followed by half a day spent in the Neues Museem in Berlin. This has been totally renovated since we lived in Berlin and now houses the Egyptian collection, among other things. This musuem is gorgeous! The architecture is fantastic. Even if you had zero interest in the art and antiquities housed there, you could wander and wonder for hours at the building itself. It really surpassed my expectations. They had to kick us out the doors at the end of the day.
Finally, we went to the Pergamon, our dear friend and museum of the heart. When we lived in Potsdam/Berlin, we went to the Pergamon at least 40 times. We know each room by heart and it makes up part of the girls’ childhood memories. I would not be surprised if Leah ended up studying Assyriology as a result of a childhood spent in this museem. It was fantastic to see it again. Emma even had a bit of an epiphany in the museum, about her own intellectual pursuits and how our museum-mania contributed to her cross-disciplinary interests. (She has a joint degree in politics and economics with an interest in international security and power dynamics.) Part of the museum is closed for restoration (including the Pergamon altar), but we went to the temporary exhibit on Pergamon: Das Panorama, a 360 degree panorama of the ancient city of Pergamon by the artist Yadegar Asisi. Oh my, is this fabulous! Absolutely fantastic! Go and see it if you can.
For textile fans (this is, after all, a knitting blog) the Pergamon also has one of the best collections of ancient carpets. At the moment they have a lovely multi-disciplinary exhibit called Sound Weaving 7.0 – Pergamon edition; The sound of carpets by the Hungarian artist Zsanett Szirmay. She has basically broken down the patterns in the carpets into tonal sequences and melodies, which can be listened to. Read the description on the link; it is a beautiful exhibit and an arresting idea.
What else did we do over the holidays? We meandered. We walked all over the place – inside and out. Through miles of musem corridors, through London, Potsdam, Berlin, and the Oxfordshire countryside. We also cooked, we ate, we read piles of books, and I did a mile of stockinette knitting. I am almost finished with the boring part of the pullover and then will knit the very beautifully-patterned yoke. (Stay tuned for photos!)
Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you spent some time pursuing your passions, be they museums or otherwise.