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  • Museums
    Updated at Feb 3,2014

    Chiswick House and Gardens: 2-4 hours.

    A unique oasis in this corner of London - though this wouldn't be on my top must-see list.... Please refer to our blog on Hammersmith and Chiswick, along the Thames. After visiting the CH  take a stroll along the Thames towards Hammersmith or Richmond or to one of the other nearby tourist attractions such as the Fullers brewery...

    Visitor Information:

    The House: From 1 April-30 Sept: Open 10am-6pm Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed & Bank Holidays, Closed Thu, Fri and Sat. Ticket price: Adult: £6.10. If you are an English Heritage member (or a Barclays Premier client) you can tour round the house for free.

    The Gardens: Open every day from 7am until dusk, all year round.
    There is no charge for visiting Chiswick House Gardens.

    The Café: Open every day from 09.00.

    Duration: A great place to visit for a couple of hours.

    From Chiswick Park station  - it is a 15-20 minutes walk to Chiswick House.  It is quite a long and disorienting walk from the  subway line. Head southeast on Bollo Ln.  At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Acton Ln. Go through the next roundabout. Turn left onto Chiswick High Rd. Slight right to stay on Chiswick High Rd. Turn right onto Duke's Ave. Slight left toward Great West Rd. Turn right toward Great West Rd. Turn right onto Great West Rd. The Chiswick House and gardens will be on the right.

    Chiswick House is one of the finest examples of neo-Palladian design in England. I highly recommend that you'll combine your visit with one of the numerous special events taking place in the house. See: http://www.chgt.org.uk/index.asp?Pageid=1

    The third Earl of Burlington built the house in 1729 with help from the renowned architect, William Kent, as a tribute to the Italian architect Palladio. Chiswick House is a showcase for art collections, and a venue for many temporary exhibitions. The finest remaining example of Neo-Palladian architecture in London, the house was designed by Lord Burlington, and completed in 1729. It was not intended as a home but as a place to get away to and to have parties. It was also home to the Earl’s art collections. The house itself is pretty much unique in London and an audio tour of the ground floor deals mainly with the architectural history. The first floor has been beautifully restored and gives a good idea of how the place would have looked more than 200 years ago. Allow about 45 minutes to 1 hour of the tour inside.

    It's a very small house despite the imposing exterior. The second floor is more impressive with beautiful ceilings and nice artwork. The upper floor of the CH holds the "Green Velvet Room", and the "Red Velvet Room" where Lord Burlington and his pals would discuss art and architecture, and the politics of the time. Very impressive ceilings and a good collection of paintings.

    If you don't wish to pay to enter the house you can spend an hour walking round these beautiful historic gardens for free. They are a lovely place to roam in all seasons. The Conservatory is open from Mid-March - mid-October 10am-4pm with free entry but there is a charge when the plants are in bloom in February/March. The gardens at Chiswick House have been loved for centuries. The gardens have benefited from a large-scale restoration, unveiled in June 2010.  The gardens are a great attraction in themselves, with a number of fantastic little features scattered around the place. It gets a little crowded on sunny weekends.  Go on a weekday and it's still blissfully quiet. If you're short on time, skip the house and take a wander down a garden path - you won't regret it !

    The grounds are huge, and contain a bridge, straight out of a classic rural painting, and an Ionic temple, which you'll love. Worth visiting on a nice day as the grounds are spectacular with great walks in the gardens and around the lake. The Royal Horticultural Society was based in the grounds in the nineteenth century. The park is beautifully maintained with a lovely lake and helpful signs describing bird life you can see. Another special experience are the dogs and their owners spilled out all over the front lawn area and beside the lake:

    The café (with toilets) in Chiswick House is quite expensive but the staff is most welcoming and helpful.

  • Museums | Italy
    Updated at Aug 8,2014

    Vatican Museums:

    Visit Rules: These rules apply to individual / family visits NOT to group visits.

    1. What is included: Basically, there are two destinations with two distinct  tickets: Vatican Museumes and Vatican Gardens. Each one needs  a separate ticket.

    Vatican Museums ('Musei Vaticani') include the 'big 3' - St Peters, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. All of them in one ticket. The Saint Peter's Basilica is, actually, not included in the admission ticket. Admission to the Basilica is free of charge.

    Vatican Gardens - can be visited ONLY with GUIDED TOUR - under another ticket.

    2. Types of Vatican Museums' visits: You may choose if you'll be visiting as part of a guided tour (accompanied by an official and knowledgeable tour guide), or as individuals (making your own way around). All the 'big 3' are included in both of them.

    • The guided tour MAY include sites not open, regularly, to the public.
    • The guided tours are more expensive.
    •  The guided tours are limited in time of visit. But, after the guided tour you are allowed to stay, on your own, as long as you wish.

    3. Times: Hours for the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are Mon - Sat from 8.30 in the morning until 18.00 in the evening. Last entrance at 16.00. Sundays - Close. During the last Sunday of every month - FREE ADMISSION BUT IT IS OPEN ONLY DURING the FIRST HALF OF THE DAY. You may stay as long as you wish within these hours - with any type of ticket.

    4. Online Book in advance: There are huge queues for entrance. Wait of several hours is very common. Availability, both for straightforward tickets and for tours is limited. We recommend you to book as far in advance as is possible. It is only possible to make reservation up to 60 days in advance of your EXACT DAY visit,

    5. Online tickets / vouchers reservation: http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do?aaaamm=20145&numeroPartecipanti=2&step=3&action=booking

    • You must decide on exact visit date.
    • You can change your date of visit after making the reservation. No charge for change. Click 'Change of Reservation' in the left-side menu.
    • Your payment is non refundable. You cannot cancel your reservation.
    • Take sandwiches / fruits as the visit/tour can last for hours.
    • No children.

    6. Payment: By making the online reservation  - your credit card is charged. With some agencies - you pay ALSO online handling fees. An email is sent to you containing a link to a page from where you'll be able to print out your voucher. One voucher is printed for whole of your family or number of individuals. Again, ONE VOUCHER FOR ALL YOUR VISITORS. The voucher will be in Adobe PDF format. Note: The voucher amount does not include the online handling fees.

    7. Entrance: The Voucher you got by email MUST BE ACCOMPANIED together with a valid identification document and must be presented at the entrance of the Vatican Museums. There is a dedicated entrance for 'pre-booked' visitors. On the day of your visit you will join the special 'pre-booked' queue located to the right hand side of the main entrance. You need to present your voucher and some ID (passport is always best). Next you  pass security. Then you swap your voucher for entrance tickets. Vouchers can only be used for the date and time specified. Please adhere to a religious dress code. Dress appropriately. No weapons or dangerous items. Even with pre-booked ticket - you may expect queuing inside the Vatican sites.

    8. Concessions: Children under 6 years - FREE. Those of 6 - 18 are entitled to reduced priced tickets.  Students under 26 years (valid student ID required) are entitled to reduced priced tickets.. Those under-18 are allowed entrance only with at least one person over the age of 18.

    9. Disabled access: Yes. There are wheelchairs around. Only with individual or private visits. No possibility with guided tours.

    10. Vatican Gardens: See clause no. 1. Only as part of a guided tour. Tickets are for a guided, two hour tour of the Vatican Gardens. Once the tour is over, you are free to explore St Peters, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums at leisure - and they are included in the price of the garden tour. Vatican Museums ticket - DOES NOT INCLUDE the Vatican Gardens visit.

    11. Photography & Mobile phones: It is forbidden to use flashlight photography inside the Museums. No photography or filming is permitted in the Sistine Chapel. The use of mobile phones is allowed, except in the Sistine Chapel.

    12. Facilities: Plenty of toilets and 3 restaurants to meet every taste and budget. Refreshment
    The main refreshment area is accessed from the top of the entrance escalator. There are two cafes - the first offering pasta meals, but walk past this and you come to the pizzeria, which has wonderful views of St Peter's dome and reasonable pizzas. There is also a tiny, little-known and slightly scruffy outdoor snack bar, accessible from the steps by the Sistine Chapel. A restaurant with a self-service, pizzeria and coffee bar is located one floor down the Atrium of the Four Gates (Atrio dei Quattro Cancelli): go down the stairs near the Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca) or at the top of the escalators turn right and then follow the indications.

    13. Prices:

    Individual Visit:

    Full price ticket: Euro 16,00. Reduced ticket: Euro 8,00.
    Every ticket reserved online has a reservation fee of Euro 4,00.
    Audioguide (optional): Euro 7,00.
    Family Tour for children between 5 and 12 years old (optional): Euro 5,00.

    Guided Tours:

    • Vatican Gardens:

    Full price ticket: 32,00 Euro. Reduced ticket: 24,00 Euro.
    Admission Ticket included. The ticket also enables the visitors to continue, on their own, a tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

    • Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

    Full price ticket: 32,00 Euro. Reduced ticket: 24,00 Euro.
    The tour includes: the Pio Clementino Museum, the Gallery of the Candelabras, the Gallery of the Geographical Maps, and the Gallery of the Tapestries (Renaissance art), the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. Duration of the tour is about 2 hours.

    • Vatican Gardens and Necropolis Via Triumphalis

    Full price ticket: 37,00 Euro. Reduced ticket: 29,00 Euro.
    At the end of the tour of the Gardens visitors continue their guided tour to the Via Triumphalis discovered, in 2003, during the construction of the new parking lot of Santa Rosa in the Vatican City State. The tour includes the marvellous fountain of the Galea recently restored. Duration of the guided tour is about 3 hours.

    • Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica

    Full price ticket: 37,00 Euro. Reduced ticket: 29,00 Euro.
    Admission Ticket included.

    The tour includes: the Pio Clementino Museum, the Gallery of the Candelabras, the Gallery of the Geographical Maps, and the Gallery of the Tapestries (Renaissance art), the Raphael Rooms, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Duration of the tour is about 3 hours.

    • Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis only

    Admission ticket: 10,00 Euro.
    The tour to the Via Triumphalis allows visitors to observe the Roman Necropolis discovered, in 2003, during the construction of the new parking lot of Santa Rosa in the Vatican City State. Duration of the tour is about 90 minutes. The ticket does NOT include the admission to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

    • Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis and the Museums

    Full price ticket: 26,00 Euro. Reduced ticket: 20,00 Euro.
    The tour to the Via Triumphalis allows visitors to observe the Roman Necropolis discovered, in 2003, during the construction of the new parking lot of Santa Rosa in the Vatican City State. Duration of the guided tour to the Necropolis is about 90 minutes. The ticket also enables the visitors to continue, on their own, a tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

    TIPS:

    • Be careful what you actually take with you. Do NOT leave anything with security at the beginning of your tour as you will have to walk hundreds of meters back to collect it.
    • Make sure you go to the toilet before you go in.
    • Many items you buy in the Vatican are cheaper than in Rome City (no tax).

    Vatican Museums - General: Open Monday to Saturday. Ticket Office is open from 9.00 - 16.00. The Museums are open 9.00 - 18.00. Exit from rooms half an hour before closing time. Sundays - closed. Last Sunday of every month, FREE entrance from 9.00 - 12.30. Closed: January 1, 6, February 11, March 19, April 20, 21, 27, May 1, June 29 (St. Peter and Paul), August 14, 15, November 1, December 25, 26.

    11km of museums and is the largest in the world.

    Entrance: Tickets, Information, Toilets, Elevators, Cloakroom, Audioguides, Bookshop, general wooden model of the whole Vatican Museums complex.

    The Entrance:

    Here are the Vatican's top sections (roughly in the order you're likely to visit them):

    Pinacoteca (Painting Gallery) ★★★- An all-star painting gallery with works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Giotto, Titian, Fra' Angelico, and many more. (Vatican Museums I trip).

    Egyptian Museum - Museo Egisio.

    Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms) ★★★ - The former private papal apartments of Julius II were frescoed by Raphael and his assistants with some of the Renaissance master's best works, including the renowned School of Athens. Also in the Papal Suites sector of the Vatican are the Borgia Apartments and the Chapel of Nicholas V. The Raphael Rooms take about 25–40 minutes (more if you're a true fan). (Vatican Museums II trip).

    Here are the rooms in the order (generally) that you visit them, with each one's relative interest indicated by the number of stars:

    • Stanza dell'Incendio - Includes the Borgo Fire.
    • ★★★ Stanza della Segnatura - Includes the famous School of Athens.
    • ★★ Stanza di Eliodoro - Includes the Expulsion of Heliodorus.
    • Stanza di Constantino - Includes the Vision of the Cross.

    Sistine Chapel ★★★ - The iconic fingers-almost-touching detail of Michelangelo's God creating Adam takes up merely a few square inches of ceiling in a chapel 132 feet long by 46 feet wide by 70 feet tall nearly every inch of which is swathed in some of the greatest frescoes of the Renaissance. (Vatican Museums III trip).

    The Pio-Clementine Museum ★★ - Some of the greatest statuary to have survived from Ancient Rome, including the Laocoön group and the Apollo Belvedere. (Vatican Museums I trip).

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    Pinacoteca: The art gallery was housed in the Borgia Apartment, until Pope Pius XI ordered construction of a proper building. The new building was inaugurated on October 27, 1932.[4] The designer was Luca Beltrami. The Vatican picture gallery (Pinacoteca), spectacularly good, and massively under-visited, is a prime candidate for the best smallish (15 main rooms) gallery in the world. Arranged in chronological order of western art from Giotto to Pompeo Batoni. Taking in Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Raphael (a roomful), Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Caravaggio, Leonardo along the way.

    Room I. 12th-15th cent. (Nicolaus and Johannes)

    Room II. 13th-15th cent. (Giotto)

    • Stefaneschi triptych - front side.

    • Stefaneschi triptych - back side.

    Room III. 15th cent. (Beato Angelico)

    • Beato Angelico, Stories of St Nicholas of Bari.

    Room IV. 15th-16th cent. (Melozzo da Forlì)

    • Melozzo da Forli', Angel playing the lute.

    Room V. 15th cent. (Ercole de' Roberti)

    Room VI. 15th cent. (polyptychs)

    Filippo Lippi - Coronation of the Virgin:

    Room VII. 15th-16th cent. (Perugino)

    San Francesco al Prato Resurrection - Pietro Perugino:

    Room VIII. 16th cent. (Raphael)

    • Raphael, Crowning of the Virgin (Oddi altarpiece).

    • Raphael, Transfiguration

    Room IX. 15th-16th cent. (Leonardo)

    • Giovanni Bellini, Lament over the dead Christ.

    • Leonardo da Vinci, St Jerome.

    Room X. 16th cent. (school of Raphael and Venetian painting)

    • Tizian - Ritrratto del Doge Nicollo Marcolli:

    Raffaellino del Colle - The Adoration of the Magi:

    Room XI. 16th cent. (Barocci)

    • Barocci, Rest during the Flight into Egypt.

    • Jacopo Zucchi - Miracle of the Snow:

    Room XII. 17th cent. (Caravaggio)

    Caravaggio, Deposition from the cross:

    Room XIII. 17th cent. (Pietro da Cortona)

    • Pietro da Cortona, David killing the giant Goliath.

    Room XIV. 17th cent. (Carlo Maratta)

    •  David Ryckaer - The return of the Old philosopher and Alchemist:

    • Carlo Maratta, Portrait of Clement IX.

    Room XV. 18th cent. (Crespi)

    • Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Portrait of Benedict XIV.

    Room XVI. 19th cent. (Wenzel Peter)

    • Wenzel Peter, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

    Room XVII. 17th cent. (Bernini) - Models for St Peter's Chair:

    Room XVIII. 15th-19th cent. (icons)

    ======================================================

    Atrium of the Four Gates, Atrio dei Quattro Cancelli:

    Once you come up the escalator and show your ticket, you walk over to the Atrio dei Quattro Cancelli (Atrium of the Four Gates of the Vatican Palace). A little ahead is a junction; you turn right to visit the Museo Chaiaramonti founded by Pius VII and organised by the sculptor, Antonio Canova in 1807. There are over a thousand exhibits here of Roman busts, Roman gods, Roman Emperors. It houses Greek and Roman antiquities. The atrium of the Four Gates is the main hub from which you can choose the routes to go inside the Vatican Museums. They are, however, reported from different colors, with special arrows, guiding tourists through a "forced". From here you can begin the visit starting from the Courtyard Pigna or if you prefer from the four gates can climb the ladder Simonetti - a helical ramp two cordonate - and access to the plan that leads to the Gregorian Egyptian Museum and the Museo Gregoriano Etruscan. A restaurant with a self-service, pizzeria and coffee bar is located one floor down the Atrium of the Four Gates (Atrio dei Quattro Cancelli): go down the stairs near the Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca) or at the top of the escalators turn right and then follow the indications.

    See more details and photos on Cortile del Belvedere - in the end of this blog.

    See more details and photos on Cortile del Belvedere in the end of this blog.

    ======================================================

    Chiaramonti Museum. This gallery of sculptures is named after its creator, Pope Pius VII (1800-23) whose family name was Chiaramonti. It has two wings designed by Bramante that connect the pontifical palace with the Belvedere Pavilion of Innocent VIII, which encloses the huge Belvedere Courtyard, also by Bramante. The Courtyard has three parts: Cortile del Belvedere, Cortile della Biblioteca (Courtyard of the Library), and, to the north, Cortile delle Pigna (Courtyard of the Pine Cone, or Fir-cone). There are 59 sections to this museum, all with Roman numerals, even numbers are on the right, odd on the left. Of special interest to me was in Section XXXI, from the 1st century A.D., a relief of The Three Muses, among a vast number of other artifacts. concept of a museum: busts and statues lined up as if for military inspection on either side of a corridor stretching as far as the eye can see.

    It also contains the Lapidary Gallery (which houses a multitude of pagan and Christian inscriptions, sarcophagi, and the like), and The New Wing, which houses many ancient sculptures. One piece that stands out above all the rest in my mind is a marble statue of Augustus of Prima Porta, which was found in Livia's villa at Gallinas Albas on the via Flaminia in 1863. What stands out in the hemicycle is the gigantic Statue of the Nile, which was found in 1513 near St. Maria sopra Minerva on the site of the Temple of Isis.

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    Egyptian Museum - Museo Gregoriano Egizio:

    Located at the northern end of the lower floor. The Museum occupies nine rooms divided by a large hemi-cycle that opens towards the terrace of the "Niche of the Fir Cone", in which there are numerous sculptures. The last two rooms house finds from ancient Mesopotamia and from Syria-Palestine.

    The Gregorian Egyptian Museum, was inagurated by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839 and was set up by Giuseppe Fabris and dall'egittologo Louis Marie Ungarelli. The museum is composed of ten rooms, where you can admire epigraphic collections, documents funerary customs, mummies, several furnishings, Egyptian statues found in Rome and Villa Adriana in Tivoli. Egyptian original works are the statue of Queen Tuia and bust of King Menthotep, which is the oldest regional portrait of the Museum. Also within this museum you can also admire the Assyrians reliefs.

    • Room I. Hieroglyphic inscriptions on stelae and statues (2600 BC-600 AD).
    • Room II. Funerary customs in ancient Egypt (2600 BC-200 AD).

    • Room III. Reconstruction of the Serapeum of Villa Adriana (approx. 131 AD).

    • Room IV. Egypt and Rome (1st-2nd century AD).
    • Room V. Masterpieces of pharaonic statuary (2000 BC-100 AD).
    • Room VI. Votive bronzes of the 1st millennium BC.
    • Room VII. Bronze and clay figurines from Hellenistic and Roman Egypt.

    • Room VIII. Cuneiform tablets and seals from Mesopotamia; vases and bronzes from Syria-Palestine (3rd-1st mill. BC) Reliefs from Palmira (1st-3rd cent. AD).
    • Room IX. Reliefs and inscriptions from Assyrian palaces (883-612 BC).

    =============================================================

    The Etruscan Museum:

    Gregory XVI (1831-1846) founded the Etruscan Museum (1837) with archaeological finds discovered during excavations carried out from 1828 onwards in southern Etruria. Later, he established the Egyptian Museum (1839), which houses ancient artifacts from explorations in Egypt, together with other pieces already conserved in the Vatican and in the Museo Capitolino, and the Lateran Profane Museum (1844), with statues, bas-relief sculptures and mosaics of the Roman era, which could not be adequately placed in the Vatican Palace. The Lateran Profane Museum was expanded in 1854 under Pius IX (1846-1878) with the addition of the Pio Christian Museum. This museum is comprised of ancient sculptures (especially sarcophagi) and inscriptions with ancient Christian content. In 1910, under the pontificate of Saint Pius X (1903-1914), the Hebrew Lapidary was established. This section of the museum contains 137 inscriptions from ancient Hebrew cemeteries in Rome mostly from via Portuense and donated by the Marquisate Pellegrini-Quarantotti. These last collections (Gregorian Profane Museum, Pio Christian Museum and the Hebrew Lapidary) were transferred, under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), from the Lateran Palace to their present building within the Vatican and inaugurated in 1970. After the Villa Giulia, this is the most important Etruscan collection in Rome. On April 4, 2013, the latest version of the Etruscanning 3D application was inaugurated in the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco in the Vatican Museums. The installation consists of a non-interactive film that is displayed in Room 2 where the Regolini-Galasssi objects are displayed.

    The Mars of Todi Statue, Bronze. 4th century B.C. Total height of statue - 1.69 m:

    Etruscan cinerary urn, Polychrome terracotta. First half of the 2nd century B.C:

    Sarcophagus from the “Tomb of the Sarcophagi”, from Cerveteri,

    Limestone. End of the 5th—beginning of the 4th century B.C.:

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    Museo Pio Clementino:

    Main hall of the Museo Pio-Clementino:

    Rooms and Courts by order:

    Square Vestibule and Cabinet of Apoxyomenos

    Cortilio Ottagono - Octagonal Court

    Hall of Animals

    Gallery of Statues and the Hall of Busts

    Cabinet of Masks

    Hall of the Muses

    Round Hall (Sala Rotonda - below)

    Greek Cross Hall

    Hall of the Chariot

    Gallery of the Candelabra.

    Cortilio Ottagono - Octagonal Court:

    Arno - God of Rivers:

    Laocoön and His Sons:

    Pope Clement XIV founded the Pio-Clementino museum in 1771, and originally it contained the Renaissance and antique works. The museum and collection were enlarged by Clement's successor Pius VI. Today, the museum houses works of Greek and Roman sculpture. Some notable galleries are:

    Greek Cross Gallery: (Sala a Croce Greca): with the porphyri sarcophagi of Constance and Saint Helen, daughter and mother of Constantine the Great:

    Detail from the sarcophague of Constantine:

    The Belvedere Appolo sculpture:

    Sala Rotonda: shaped like a miniature Pantheon, the room has impressive ancient mosaics on the floors, and ancient statues lining the perimeter, including a gilded bronze statue of Hercules:

    Bronze statue of Hercules in the Round Room:

    Braschi Antinous. This colossal sculpture was found in excavations in 1792-1793 in an area presumed to have been the villa of Hadrian at Praeneste, today Palestrina:

    So-called “Zeus of Otricoli”. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek original from the 4th century:

    Gallery of the Statues (Galleria delle Statue): as its name implies, holds various important statues, including Sleeping Ariadne and the bust of Menander. It also contains the Barberini Candelabra.

    Statue of Perseus:

    Sleeping Ariadne:

    The Hermes of the Museo Pio-Clementino, part of the Vatican collections, Rome, was long admired as the Belvedere Antinous, named from its prominent placement in the Cortile del Belvedere. It is now inventory number 907 in the Museo Pio-Clementino:

    Gallery of the Busts (Galleria dei Busti): Many ancient busts are displayed.

    Cabinet of the Masks (Gabinetto delle Maschere): The name comes from the mosaic on the floor of the gallery, found in Villa Adriana, which shows ancient theater masks. Along the walls, several famous statues are shown including the Three Graces.One wove the thread of life,second nurtured it, third cut it. They were created by Zeus. The name comes from the mosaic in the floor of the gallery, found in Villa Adriana, which represents several masks. Along the walls, several famous statues are shown like the Three Graces. Here is the photo of the Three Graces:

    Sala delle Muse: Houses the statue group of Apollo and the nine muses, uncovered in a Roman villa near Tivoli in 1774, as well as and statues by important ancient Greek or Roman sculptors. the center piece is Belvedere Torso, revered by Michelangelo and other Renaissance men.

    The Belvedere Torso:

    Bust of Euripides:

    Plato:

    Sala degli Animali: So named because of the many ancient statues of animals.

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    Borgia Apartments:

    From the Stanza dell'Incendio del Borgo ("The Room of the Fire in the Borgo") there is staircase leading to the first floor to The Borgia Apartments. They are a suite of rooms in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, adapted for personal use by Pope Alexander VI (Rodrígo de Borgia) (that devilish guy played by Jeremy Irons in the Borgias TV series). In the late 15th century, he commissioned the Italian painter Bernardino di Betto (Pinturicchio) and his studio to decorate them with frescos. Recent cleaning of Pinturicchio's fresco "The Resurrection" has revealed a scene believed to be the earliest known European depiction of Native Americans, painted just two short years after Christopher Columbus returned from the New World. When the Borgia family fell out of favor after the 1503 death of Pope Alexander VI, the apartments were little used for centuries. Only in 1889 did Pope Leo XIII have the rooms restored and opened for public viewing. The works in the apartment are now considered part of the Vatican Library.

    There are five rooms completed by Pinturicchio:

    The Hall of the Mysteries of the Faith:

    Nativity:

    The Descent of the Holy Spirit:

    The Hall of the Saints:

    The Martyrdom of Saint Barbara:

    The Visitation:

    The Hall of Trivium and of Quadrivium:

    The Arts of the Trivium: Music:

    The Arts of the Quadrivium; Geometry:

    Ceiling of Apartamenti Borgias (Borgia Apartments):

    Most of the rooms are now used for the Vatican Collection of Modern Religious Art, inaugurated by Pope Paul VI in 1973. The collection includes about 600 accumulated works of painting, sculpture and graphic art; donations of contemporary Italian and foreign artists and includes works by Braque, Dalí, Chagall, Gauguin,  Kandinsky, Klee,  Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Morandi and Van Gogh.

    Vincent van Gogh, Pietà, after Delacroi:

    Marc Chagall, White Crucifixion, 1938, Oil on canvas:

    Sala Matisse:

    Salvador Dali:

    Francis bacon:

    Vatican Library:

    The Vatican Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) was founded by pope Nicholas V in 1450, when it contained about 340 books. Today it is one of the world's most important libraries with more than half a million books and over 60,000 manuscripts. Some of the most valuable pieces are displayed in the Sistine Hall (Salone Sistino), a magnificent vaulted hall built in 1588 by Domenico Fontana. The eighty meter-long and fifteen meter-wide hall (appr. 260x50ft) is magnificently decorated with colorful wall and ceiling paintings.

    Sistine Hall - Vatican Library:

    Hall of Addresses:

    Salla dei Papiri:

    Frescoes in the Vatican Library:

    Cortile del Belvedere:

    The Cortile del Belvedere, (the Belvedere Courtyard) designed by Donato Bramante from 1506 onward, was a major architectural work of the High Renaissance.

    Cortile della Pigna:

    Sphere Within Sphere by Pomodoro in the Cortile della Pigna:

    The Pine cone monument. Built by the Romans, this 1st century Roman bronze sculpture, called the “Pigna” (“pine cone”), was once an ancient fountain. The Pigna sculpture sits in a Vatican courtyard called the Court of the Pine Cone, and is today considered the largest pine cone statue in the world. This 1st-century Roman bronze Pigna ("pinecone") in front of the exhedra, gives the name Cortile della Pigna to the highest terrace; it was an ancient fountain.

    Details of Cortile della Pigna decorated with the heraldic symbols of Pope Clement XI (three mountains and a star); (inset) coat of arms of Pope John Paul II:

    (left) Fontana del Cortile del Belvedere by Carlo Maderno; (centre/right) Fontana del Vascello by Giovanni Vasanzio:

  • Museums
    Updated at Oct 29,2014

    Museum of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria. Main Building - Maria Theresien-Platz, A - 1010 Vienna.

    Duration: At least a full-day activity. You need a whole day (if not more) to briefly cover all exhibits.

    Weather: The best deal in Vienna in a rainy day.

    Tips: The picture gallery is ALWAYS crowded. Other sections or wings of the museum are far more peaceful. Go as soon as it opens to avoid the larger crowds and the large tour groups. Backpacks are not permitted. Lockers are available (3 Euro) but it is best to travel light on the day you come here. You can buy the combination ticket, which allows you to see the Neue Burg Treasury at the same day,

    Into the museum  - walk slowly to soak the beauty. You will be blown away by the marvelous setting, lighting and presentation. There are comfortable couches everywhere inside the museum and the visitor can rest tired limbs.

    Be sure to stop at the cafe under the dome ! It is very good and offers a good selection of meals and snacks.

    Transportation: Tram 1,2,52,58,D,J to Burgring.

    Introduction:

    One cannot go to Vienna and miss the Art History Museum. It rivals the best in London and Paris. There are no words to describe the place and its contents. One of the most eminent, reputative museums in the world. Just browsing the collections really doesn't do justice to the rarity and quality of the objects. Major art works of European painters : Raphael’s "Madonna in the Meadow," Velazquez's Infanta paintings, Vermeer’s "The Allegory of Painting". The picture gallery is huge and covers a wide range of important artists: Archimboldo, Caravaggio, Dürer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Tintoretto and Tizian are, among others, housed in the paintings gallery. Ranked #1 of Vienna's attractions... Stunning collection of paintings. There are masterpieces in every room. Some real thought has gone into the presentation making each room quite different and engaging. Would take several days for art lovers to see it all.

    The main building on Ringstrasse houses the Picture Gallery, the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection, the Coin Collection, and the Kunstkammer that was reopened in February 2012. Other collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum are housed in the Neue Burg (the Collection of Historical Musical Instruments, the Collection of Arms and Armour, and the Ephesus Museum), in Hofburg Palace (the Treasury), and in Schoenbrunn Palace (the Collection of Historical Carriages). The collections on show at Ambras Palace are also part of the holdings of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

    The Museum of Fine Arts in Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum) is also referred to as the Museum of Art History (KHM). It is housed in a palace on Ringstraße and crowned with an octagonal impressive dome. The museum's architecture alone is incredible. The building itself is a work of art before you even start looking at the paintings. It was opened around 1891 at the same time as its twin museum - the Museum of Nature History (Naturhistorisches Museum) by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary Empire. The two Ringstraße museums were commissioned by the Emperor in order to find a suitable shelter for the Habsburgs' formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the general public. The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings were built between 1872 and 1891 according to plans drawn up by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer.  Construction work lasted 20 years, from when ground was first broken in 1871 to completion in the year 1891. The two façades were built of sandstone. The buildings are rectangular in shape, and topped with a dome that is 60 meters high. The insides of the two museums are decorated with multi-coloured marble, stucco ornaments, gold-leaf, and wealth of paintings.

    The monumental structure was intended to both unite and appropriately represent the artistic treasures that had been collected by the Habsburgs over the centuries. Thanks to the acquisitions by and the patronage of the House of Habsburg, the Museum of fine Arts in Vienna has an unrivaled collection of old masters. The primary collections are from the portrait and weapons collections of Ferdinand of Tirol, the collections of Emperor Rudolph II and the collection of paintings of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. There is the largest selection of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

    The collections range from Ancient Egyptian and Greek and Roman Antiquities to precious artworks from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque era. The main collections of the Fine Arts Museum are: Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection, Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities (fascinating treasures from mysterious cultures long past), Collection of Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Coin Cabinet and a Library.

    Opening Hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10.00 - 18.00, Thursday: 10.00 - 21.00.
    September to May: Monday - closed.  Admission: adult - € 14.00, senior - € 11.00, student - € 11.00. Children and teens under 19 years have free entrance.  Your entry ticket entitels you to a one time entry to
    the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna as well as to the collections in the Neue Burg located at Heldenplatz. Online tickets: https://shop.khm.at/en/ticket-shop/ticket-details/?shop[showItem]=200000000001132-T003-01

    You enter the building from the open space between the two museums. WOW ! the moment you step into the museum, when you enter the grand interior that greets you:

    Second Floor - Museum Interior:

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    Notable works in the picture gallery include:

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    Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) - Madonna of the Pear 1512:

                                                     -  Emperor Maximilian I:

                                                     - Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, 1505:

                                                     - The Painter's Father, 1497:

    Giuseppe Arcimboldo -  Summer (1563):

    Barthel Beham (1502-1540) - Woman with a Parrot:

    Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525 – 9 September 1569) - The Peasant Wedding, 1568–69:

                                                             - The Peasant Dance (1568/69):

                                                              - Children's Games 1560. 230 children playing 86 different types of games:

                                                      - The Hunters in the Snow (Dec.-Jan.) (1565):

                                                  - The Tower of Babel 1563:

                                                      - Conversion of Paul 1567:

                                                    - Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap, 1565. This picture has approx. 100 version (all original). The winter of 1564-1565 was extremely harsh. The trap is in the bottom right:

                                                  - The Fight Between Carnival and Lent , (1559):

                                                       - The Gloomy Day, (1565):

                                                               - The Return of the Herd, (1565):

                                                         - The Peasant and the Nest Robber, 1568:

    Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Madonna of the Rosary,  (1606/07):

                                                                      - The Crowning with Thorns:

                                                               - David with the Head of Goliath, 1610:

    Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) - Paradise:

                                                  - Adam and Eve. c.1530:

                                                   - The Fall of Adam and Eve. c.1530:

                                                   - Judith with the Head of Holofernes. c.1530:

                                                             - Man figure:

                                  

    Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn - Resting Venus (Ruhende Venus - 1672:

    Anton van Dyck (1599-1641) - Samson and Delilah 1628 - 1630. Note the double-faced look of love and hate at their faces of Samson and Delilah:

                                                           - Lamentation of Christ:

                                                        - Head of a woman looking up:

    Jan van Eyck - Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati,  (c. 1431):

                           - Portrait of Jan de Leeuw, 1436:

    Jan Fabre (B. Antwerp, 1958) - Ink 1988:

    Hans Holbein the Younger - Jane Seymour, ca. 1536–1537:

                                                           - Portrait of John Chambers, 1543.

    In year 1536 Holbein joined the royal court of the king:

                                                          - Portrait of young man, 1541:

    Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627-78) - Man at a Window, 1653:

    Jordaens, Hans III (1595-1643) - "Kunstkammer" - an art gallery:

    Ludger Tom Ring The Younger - self portrait, 1547:

    Bartolomeo Manfredi - Cain Kills Abel, c. 1600:

    Jan Massys (1509 - 1575) - Peasants Feast:

    Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino - Young man with a book, 1525:

    Raphael - Madonna of the Meadow , (1506):

    Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (15 July 1606– 4 October 1669) - self-portrait:

    Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640) - Ansegisel and his wife St. Begga, 1612/1615:

                                                              - The Triptych of St. Ildefonso Altar. Ruben'sd ability to connect between religious subjects and sensual expression:

                                                               - Autoportrait 1638 - 1640:

                                                               - The Fur ("Het Pelsken") 1638:

                                                            - The Feast of Venus 1636-7. A tribute to his teacher Tizian who painted a picture of the same subject:

    Jakob Seisenegger - Portrait of Archduchess Eleonora of Mantua (daughter of Ferdinand I king of Spain), 1536:

    Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto - Man with a White Beard, 1570 - 1578:

    Titian - Violante, c. 1515–1516:

                                                           - Portrait of Pope Paul III, 1543 or 1546:

                                                             - Diana, 1554:

    Diego Velázquez - Felipe IV, 1632:

                               - Isabel de Borbón 1632:

                           - El príncipe Baltasar Carlos 1639:

    - Portrait of the Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain 1651–1653:

                                                                  - La infanta Margarita 1653:

                                                                   - La infanta Margarita 1656:

                                             - Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress 1659:

    Johannes Vermeer - The Art of Painting, also known as The Allegory of Painting, or Painter in his Studio, is a 17th-century oil on canvas, 1665 - 1668:

    Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari), 1528-1588 - Judith with the Head of Holofernes (1575 - 1580):

    Some interesting Egyptian coffins and an informative videos scrolling in a corner of the Egyptian section which details the mapping of the tombs:

    Statue of a priest from ancient Egypt:

    Head of a pharaoh from ancient Egypt:

    Four-headed Sphinx:

    Do not miss the antiquities on the lower floor the Greek and Roman displays are second to none. There is a wonderful Greek funeral scroll,

    Greek Art - Woman with maid , 3rd Century BC:

    - Enthroned Goddess, beginning of the 5th century BC:

    Fragment from the north frieze of the Parthenon, Old Men, 442-438 BC.:

    Ancient Greek statues:

    Hellenistic Art - Aristotle, 1st - 2nd century AD, after Greek original of the 4th century BC:

    The Roman busts are beautifully displayed with each on a column with individual lighting, such an atmospheric display:

    Bust of the Ancient Roman Consul Eutropius:

    Marc Aurel:

    Traian Ceasar:

    Double-sided mask Relief:

    Don't miss the Klimt works above the stairs. You can you see frescoes by Gustav Klimt  (1862 - 1918) as a part of a museum’s interior décor:


  • Museums
    Updated at Aug 25,2015

    The THREE Pushkin Museums of Fine Arts: (Mузей изобразительных искусств им. А.С. Пушкина)

    The museum is comprised of three distinct buildings. The original building, now exclusively presents the collections up to the end of the 19th Cent (Volkhonka street 12) - Old Masters, Ancient Egyptian art, plaster casts. The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts' building was designed by Roman Klein and Vladimir Shukhov and financed primarily by Yury Nechaev-Maltsov. Construction work began in 1898 and continued till 1912. Opening hours:  TUE - SUN: 11.00 to 20.00, Ticket desk (entrance): 11.00 to 19.00, THU: 11.00 to 21.00, Ticket desk (entrance): 11.00 to 20.00. Closed - MON. Prices: 300 rub. – adults, 150 rub. – students, seniors, free – children under 16. A joint ticket*: Main building, 19th and 20th C. European and American Art: 550 rub. – adults,
    300 rub. – students, seniors. *only permanent exposition (without exhibitions), valid 5 days since was bought, no exchange or return:

    Take photo of the golden dome of the St. Saviour Cathedral from the Volkhonka street 12 building entrance stairs:

    To its left as you face it is a separate building (light blue in color) (Volkhonka street 14) housing the Impressionism and Post Impressionism, Modernist and Cubist - up to the present day - 19C and 20C European and American Art section of the Pushkin State Museum (Volkhonka street 14).  Opening hours TUE - SUN: 11 .00 to 20.00. Ticket desk (entrance): 11.00 to 19.00. THU: 11.00 to 21.00, Ticket desk (entrance): 11.00 to 20.00. Closed - MON. Prices: 300 rub. – adults, 150 rub. – students, seniors,
    free – children under 16. A joint ticket*: Main building, 19th and 20th C. European and American Art: 550 rub. – adults, 300 rub. – students, seniors. *only permanent exposition (without exhibitions), valid 5 days since was bought, no exchange or return. Not too much difficulty here, though certain rooms, such as those displaying the Impressionists, can get a little crowded. Compared with the St Petersburg Hermitage - Russia's other great museum of the arts - it feels virtually deserted. If you want the place completely to yourself, winter is the quietest time to come; it's very cold in the streets but a very atmospheric time to be in Moscow. Sunday is the busiest day:

    To its right stand a third building said to include art works from private collections (including the world’s largest collection of work by Alexander Rodchenko) (Volkhonka Street 10):

    The frustration arises from the fact that all three seem to operate independently, and none seems to know what the others are doing. the museum has been divided to three separate expositions - so, you should pay three times to see all its treasures.

    The "Pushkin" Museums have little to do with the famous poet; the name was simply changed to honor him during Pushkin Centennial "madness" in the mid 1930's. In 1932 it officially became known as the State Museum of Fine Art. The museum was finally (after a few changes of name in the Soviet era) renamed to honor the memory of Pushkin in 1937, the 100th anniversary of his death. The facility was founded by professor Ivan Tsvetaev (father of the poet Marina Tsvetaeva). Tsvetaev persuaded the millionaire and philanthropist Yuriy Nechaev-Maltsov and the fashionable architect Roman Klein of the urgent need to give Moscow a fine arts museum.

    CLOSED (all three museums), Tuesdays - only the Private Collections wing.

    Open:

    • Main Building: from 11.00 to 20.00, THU - from 11.00 to 21.00.
    • 19th and 20th European and American Art bldg.: from 11.00  to 20.00, THU -  from 11.00 to21.00.
    • Private collections bldg.: from 12.00 to 20.00, THU - from 12.00  to 21.00. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays.

    Price:

    • MAIN BUILDING: Adults - 300 rub.
      Students, seniors - 150 rub.
      Children under 18 — free.
    • 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN ART: the stunning 19th & 20th century art collection, in the most left separate building (left of the main museum) -  Adults - 300 rub;
      Students, seniors & artists - 150 rub.
      Children under 18 — free.
    • PRIVATE COLLECTIONS: Adults - 200 rub;
      Students, seniors & artists - 100 rub.
      Children under 18 — free.
    • Joint tickets:
      Main Building, 19th and 20th Cent. Art, Private Collections:

      Adults - 750 rub
      Students, seniors & artists - 450 rub

      Main Building, 19th and 20th Cent. Art

      Adults - 550 rub
      Students, seniors & artists - 300 rub.

    Duration: 1 day. The place is so big and there is so much to see. In case you visit the THREE museums - please allow up to 2-3 hours per each of the museum's sites.

    Photography: (with no flash) - allowed. No videos.

    Nearest metro stations: Kropotkinskaya (Кропоткинская, м.) (Red line), 3 minutes walk, Borovitskaya (м. Боровицкая, м.), Lenin Library ( Библиотека им. Ленина).

    Tips:

    • Separate these THREE museums and the Tertyakov museum for different days of visit.
    • Check the schedule on the museum web site, then you will know for sure what is presented in the time of your visit.
    • There are cheaper tickets for Russian citizens and the nationality is usually judged by the language you use in the cashier. So if you  are able to ask for the tickets in Russian, you'll get a cheaper price.
    • There are many replicas (especially, in the central wing building). You have to read the captions to discover that they are not original. it goes back to earlier times when it was difficult for Russians to travel outside their borders to see the types of arts that existed elsewhere in the world. Foreign visitors should understand that museum was created for educational purposes, and not as a store of art.
    • The top hits: The main building: good collections of art of ancient civilizations, including the Schliemann treasure from Troy that had disappeared for a long period after WW2 (A German archaeologist donated the collection to the city of Berlin, from where it was appropriated by the Soviets in 1945).
    • Excellent Flemish and Dutch paintings, including a few outstanding (Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Breughel, Van Dyck,  Rubens, Frans Snyder). Also the collection of medieval Italian art (Botticelli, Tiepolo and Veronese).
    • In the left building: the Impressionism collection (Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Matisse, Pisarro, Renoir, Alfred Sisley). Fine paintings of Kandinsky, Miro and Picasso. Many rooms dedicated to sole artists. Spread over three floors chronologically. Head up and start at the top floor. Plenty of originals to be admired.
    • Temporary exhibitions are most often excellent. Check web site for current exhibitions: http://www.arts-museum.ru/events/index.php?lang=en
    • No need for audio guides. There were not plenty of labels in English - mainly, for the key works. Many other exhibits don't have English signage.
    • There is a cafe, but- it is closed to all but staff between 13.00-14.00.
    • Weekends could be crowded - in the main building of ancient civilizations.
       

     Main Building:

    The ceremony for the laying of the Museum's foundation stone took place on August 17, 1898 in the presence of Tsar Nicholas II and members of his family. The name of the museum – Alexander III Fine Arts Museum – was officially approved. Building work had commenced a month before that ceremony, which was important as by then the Committee for the Establishment of the Museum already had at its disposal a major part of its collections. The Museum was created on the basis of Moscow University's "Cabinet of Fine Arts and Antiquities" which had been set up as both a public museum and one for educational purposes. In it the main stages in the history of art from ancient times until the post-Renaissance era were represented through casts, models, painted copies and galvanocopies. This museum was the first of its kind in Russia. Work to create it had been initiated (1893) by the highly respected Professor Ivan Tsvetaev (1847-1943), who had a doctorate in Latin literature and art history and was later to be the Museum's first director (1911-1913). At the end of 1896 a competition to design the building for the Museum was announced and 19 architects from various cities in Russia took part. From among the entrants the University Board selected Moscow architect, Roman Klein (1858-1924), to build the Museum. It was constructed in keeping with the latest building techniques and principles of museum practice. The design was based on the model of a Classical temple on a high podium with an Ionic colonnade along its façade. The interior decoration combined elements drawn from the various historical periods represented by the exhibits.

    Front left gallery with statues at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts:

    Back side of the main Building:

    Several highlights by rooms:

    Copy of the Porch of the Caryatids from the Acropolis of Athens, at the Greek Courtyard (room 14) at the Ground Floor of the Main Building. Room 14. The Greek Courtyard is one of the largest and most beautiful galleries in the Museum, where casts of surviving statues and reliefs from the Parthenon (447-432 BC) are displayed, where there is a life-size model of the Caryatid porch of the Erechtheum, one of the porch of the Temple of Hephaistos above the Athens Agora (market-place) and also a model of the Athens Acropolis:

    Statue of Athena at the Greek Courtyard at the Ground Floor of the Pushkin Museum Main Building:

    Room 16. The Art of Ancient Greece: The high-point in the flowering of art and culture in Ancient Greece was the 5th century BC, the era of classical Greek art. A gallery which has come to be called the Olympian Gallery is dedicated to the art of this period. The most famous works of that era are represented by plaster casts:

    Statue of King Arthur at the Italian Courtyard (room 15) at the Ground Floor of the Pushkin Museum Main Building. The architecture of this Gallery is a free re-creation of the inner courtyard of the Bargello Palace in Florence (which currently houses the city's sculpture museum). The Palazzo, built between 1260 and 1320, served for a time as the residence of the city's chief magistrate, the Podestà, which explains its other name: Palazzo del Podestà. Palaces of this kind, impressive in size, were reminiscent of church buildings as far as their scale and decoration were concerned: they asserted the prestige, wealth and power of Florence's new patrician class. The Palazzo had been erected at the very end of the Middle Ages and beginning of the Renaissance. Exhibits in this Gallery give visitors an idea of these two stages in European culture – copies of works by sculptors from Germany, France and Italy. The reproductions of masterpieces of European sculpture provide vivid illustrations of the evolution of styles and trends in the art of the 13th-16th centuries. Not only do the examples of medieval German sculpture in this Gallery not clash with the main display of Italian Renaissance sculpture but, on the contrary, they help us to understand the great changes which the era of the Renaissance brought with it:

    The Art of Ancient Egypt:

    The museum has over 6,000 items of Egyptian art, from the Predynastic (4th century BCE) to the Coptic era (4th-7th century). The collection includes examples of Fayum Mummy portraits (50 BCE-250 CE) - panel paintings which demonstrate a combination of ancient Egyptian and Hellenistic-Roman artistic traditions. These portraits were painted on wooden boards and attached to mummies. The majority were found in the necropolis of Faiyum, and were perfectly preserved by the dry Egyptian climate.

    Cosmetic Spoon (end of the 15th century BCE) in the form of floating girl. The spoon is made from ivory and is modelled in the form of a nude elegant girl swimming with a lotus flower - Ground floor room 1:

    Egyptian wooden Boat - Ground floor Room 1:

    Egyptian Sarcophague - Ground floor Room 1:

    Statue of Pharaoh Amemenhet (19th century BCE) - Ground floor room 1:

    Figures of High Priest Amenhotep and Priestess Rannai (15th century BCE) - Ground floor room 1:

    Assyric Winged lion from the castle of Ashurnasirpal II - Ground floor Room 2:

    Part of Priam's Treasure - Ground floor Room 3:

    Sarcophagus with figures of Bacchus, Ariadne and Hercules (c.210) - Ground floor room 4:

    Stele depicting Two Warriors (370 BCE) - Ground floor room 5:

    Fayum Portraits - Ground floor room 6:

    The Picture Gallery:

    European Paintings: 8th - 16th Century:

    The museum owns a small collection of Byzantine Art, mainly icon paintings and mosaic art, as well as a collection of Renaissance paintings. Painters represented include Sienese painter Sassetta (c.1450), Umbrian School artist Perugino (1446/50-1523), Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), Italian Mannerist Il Bronzino (1503-72) and Paolo Veronese (1528-88). Paintings from the Dutch Renaissance and German Renaissance (c.1400-1580) are also represented, including those by painter and woodcut print maker Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553). Paintings of particular note include -

    • The Annunciation by Botticelli, tempera on panel (1490s)

    See also Russian medieval painting, notably the celebrated Novgorod school of icon painting, and read about the three greatest painters: Theophanes the Greek (c.1340-1410), Andrei Rublev (c.1360-1430), and Dionysius (c.1440-1502).

    Andrey Rublev, Russian icon of the Old Testament Trinity between 1408-25:

    European Paintings: 17th - 18th Century:

    This is one of the major groups of paintings in the museum's picture gallery. It includes works by most of the major movements (Baroque and Rococo) of the era, from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Netherlands. Artists represented include painter, etcher and print maker Rembrandt (1606-69), Dutch landscapes painter Jacob van Ruisdael (1628-82), Flemish Baroque artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678); as well as vedute painters Canaletto (1697-1768) and Francesco Guardi (1712-93), Spanish painter Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1664), Bartolome Murillo (1617-82), Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) and Francois Boucher (1703-1770).

    Solomon and the Queen of Sheba by Hans Vredeman de Vries, Ground floor Room 8:

    Peter Paul Rubens, Bacchanal (Ground floor room 9):

    Rembrandt, Portrait of an Old Man (1654) - Ground floor room 10:

    Rembrandt (1660), Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther - Ground floor room 10:

    Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem, Allegory of Faith - Ground floor Room 11:

    The Finding of Moses, Pietro Liberi (1614) - Ground floor room 17:

    Francisco de Zurbarán, Madonna and Child, 1658 - Ground floor room 18:

    Nicholas Poussin, The Continence of Scipio (1640) - Ground floor room 21:

    Francois Boucher, "Hercules and Omphale" (1735) - Ground floor room 22:

    19th and 20th European and American Art Museum:

    The Gallery of Art from the Countries of Western Europe and America of the 19th and 20th centuries is a NEW Department within the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. It opened its doors to the public only in August 2006.

    The building at 14, Volkhonka St. was previously the left wing of the residence of the Princes Golitsyn in the 17th-19th centuries, which had been built by the St. Petersburg architect, S.I.Chevakinskii, and the Moscow architect, I.P.Zherebtsov. This building was later lent features in the style of Early Classicism by the celebrated architect M.F.Kazakov. In 1890-1892 it was redesigned to provide rented accommodation and came to be known as "Princes Court". Great Russian artists Vasilii Surikov, Ilya Repin and Leonid Pasternak lived there for many years, as did the composer Alexander Scriabin. When this building was acquired by the Pushkin Museum, it was completely renovated between 1988 and 1993 in order to house the Department known as the Museum of Private Collections. This carried forward the traditions of the original building, where a picture gallery and Classical "rarities" from the collection of M.A.Golitsyn had been on display for the public. In this sense the Gallery of Art from the countries of Western Europe and America of the 19th and 20th centuries takes up the torch, since the history of the assembly of its collection is inextricably linked with the history of art collecting in Moscow and the names of such famous patrons of the arts as Sergei Tretyakov, Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov. Twenty-six of the Museum's galleries contain a wide-ranging collection of works by masters of the 19th and 20th centuries. There are whole galleries devoted to individual trends in European art or to the work of a single artist. In a gallery specially set aside for the purpose there are works by the German school of the early-19th century, represented by Caspar David Friedrich and the "Nazarene" painters. Small galleries enable the public to appreciate, in a new light, well-known works by Eugène Delacroix and Ingres. The Spanish school is represented by Goya. A separate gallery has been set aside for members of the Paris salon dedicated to the work of J. Jerome, P. Delaroche and E.L.Izabe Works by French landscape painters Corot and the artists of the Barbizon school - Théodore Rousseau, Jules Dupré, Diaz de la Pena and Charles-François Daubigny seem almost predestined for the interiors of this Museum. Canvases by Gustave Courbet, Jean Millet and Honoré Daumier further enhance this panorama of French realist art. Pride of place in this gallery is assigned to the painting of French impressionists, post-impressionists and masters from the early-20th century: Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, members of the "Nabis" group, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, André Derain and Henri Rousseau.. In a new display it is possible to find works by representatives of other European schools as well and also works of American painters. Alongside canvases by Kandinsky, Chagall and Georgio de Chirico hang pictures by Achille Funi, Karl Hofer, Felice Casorati, H. Grundig, F. Beringer and Rockwell Kent. Works by major European sculptors are also on display – Barye, Rodin, Maillol, Bourdelle, Ossip Zadkine and Hans Arp. Whole rooms are devoted to a single movement in European art or the work of a single artist. There is a special room for the early 19th-century German school of painting represented by the works of Caspar David Friedrich and the Nazarenes. Smaller rooms enable visitors to take a new look at the well-known pictures of Eugene Delacroix and Jean-Dominique Ingres. The Spanish school is represented by Francisco de Goya. There is a special room for the Paris Salon painters Jean-Leon Gerome, Paul Delaroche and Eugene Louis Isabey. The works of the French landscape painters Camille Corot and members of the Barbizon School Theodore Rousseau, Jules Duprd, Diaz de la Pena and Charles Daubigny seem to have been specially intended for the Gallery's interiors. Canvases by Gustave Courbet, Jean-Franqois Millet and Honore Daumier complete the panorama of French realist art.

    The first half of the 19th century was characterized by changing and developing artistic trends. This is reflected in the museum's collection. While classicism was still highly regarded, romanticism and realism were making an appearance. The great French Romantic Masters, Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) and artist/lithographer Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) are represented in the collection, as well as European landscape painting reformers John Constable (1776-1837) and Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875). There are also works by the Barbizon school as well as by realist artists such as Gustave Courbet (1819-77) and Jean-Francois Millet (1814-75), and the German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). When the New Western Art museum was shut in 1948, its highly developed collection of French painting from the 19th/20th century was split between the Pushkin and the Hermitage museum. The Pushkin received paintings of rare artistic and historical value covering art movements such as Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, Divisionism, Les Nabis and Primitivism. Artists in the collection include Claude Monet (1840-1926), Renoir (1841-1919), Degas (1834-1917), Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Alfred Sisley (1839-99), Cezanne (1839-1906), Van Gogh (1853-90), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), Maurice Denis (1870-1943), Matisse (1869-1954) and Picasso (1881-1973). Among the highlights of the collection is Van Gogh's The Red Vineyard (1888, Le Vigne Rouge/the red vineyard) which is reportedly the only painting sold by the artist in his lifetime.

    Here are several highlights:

    Floor 1 - rooms 8-17:

    Eugène Delacroix, After the Shipwreck (1847) or Dead body of Don Juan thrown to the water (floor 1, room 8):

    • Portrait of Mme Mariette Gambay (1869-70) - Camille Corot (room 9):

    Claude Monet, Water-Lily Pond (1899) room 11:

    • "Blue dancers" by Edgar Edgar Degas - room 11:

    • Nude (1876) by August Renoir - room 11:

    • Girls in the Beach by August Renoir - room 11:

    • Water Lillies by Claude Monet - room 11.

    • Camille Pissarro - Morning - room 11:

    • Man Smoking a Pipe by Paul Cezanne - room 15:

    • Pierrot and Harlequin (1888-90) / Mardi Gras" by Paul Cézanne (1888) - room 15:

    • Pine Tree in St. Tropez by Paul Siognac - room 15:

    Landscape of Carriage and Train - Van Gogh - room 15:

    • Prisoners in Prison - Van Gogh - room 15:

    • Flowers in France - Paul Gaugin - room 17:

    • The King's Wife - Paul Gaugin - room 17:

    • Still life with Parrots - Paul Gaugin - room 17:

    • Paul Gauguin's "Do Not Work" (1896) - room 17:

    Second Floor - rooms 18-26:

    Bourdelle - Resting Sculpture - room 18:

    Derain - Drying Sails - room 19:

    Matisse - Still life in Venetian Red - 1908 - room 19:

    Derain - Pine Trunks - room 21:

    Derain - Saturday - room 21:

    Rue Du Mont Cenis, Montmartre (1914-1916). Utrillo Maurice (1883-1955) room 21:

    Picasso - The Meeting - room 22:

     Picasso - Old Jew and a Son - room 22:

    Picasso - Acrobat on a Ball - room 22:

    Picasso - Woman with a Fan - room 22:

    Emil Filla - The Architect - room 23:

    Fernand Léger, 1881-1955 - Left: An Infant with a Flower, 1953;
    Right: A Bird and a Flower, 1953 - room 23.

    Marc Chagall- Artist and his Fiance' - room 24:

    Marc Chagall- Night Scene - room 24:

    Kandinsky - Blue over Multicolor - room 24:

    Kandinsky, “Angular Structure,” (1930):

    Wassily Kandinsky, Impression III. Concert (1911):

    Renato Gottusso - Calabrian Worker's Sunday - room 24:

    Andre Fougeron - Fishing - room 24:

    Temporary exhibition (July 2015) - Mihály Munkácsy (1844-1900) - Hungarian painter - Milton dictating the Lost Paradise to his Daughters:

    Temporary exhibition - Mihály Munkácsy (1844-1900) - Hungarian painter - Paris Interior:

    Temporary exhibition - Mihály Munkácsy (1844-1900) - Hungarian painter - The Candies Thief:

    Prints and Drawings:

    In 1924 the Graphic Arts department was added to the museum, founded with 20,000 prints which were donated from the Hermitage museum. Today, it contains about 400,000 drawings, illustrated books, engravings, posters, applied graphics and ex-libris prints from all over the world and all periods of art history. Among them are works from great masters including Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), Rembrandt, and creators of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints like Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Hiroshige (1797-1858).

    Peter Paul Rubens, The effigy of the Virgin and Child borne by angels, ca. 1608:

    Private Collections Building:

    Between the late-16th century and the end of the 18th, the Church of St. John the Baptist had occupied this place. Later the plot was acquired by the godfather of Alexander Pushkin's brother Lev. In 1804 work had begun on the construction of a two-storeyed town house at the site. Prior to 1917 it had been the property of various aristocratic families. It had also contained the Society for Art and Literature founded in Moscow in 1888 by Konstantin Stanislavsky, Alexander Fedotov, Fyodor Komissarzhevskii and Fyodor Sologub. Between 1927 and 1932 it had housed the presidium of the Association for Artists of Revolutionary Russia. In 1934 the future of the building was again under threat in view of the construction of the Metro station "Palace of the Soviets" (now Kropotkinskaya station). The building was due for demolition on account of its worn foundations, yet, since the arrangements for re-housing the residents were not in place when the time came to build the underground tunnel, it was decided to leave the house intact. Meanwhile the old foundations were removed and replaced with new ones. In 1988 the building was made over to the Pushkin Museum and in 1990 work began on its reconstruction and restoration which took close on 15 years. In June 2005 the Department of Private Collections was moved to a new building at 8/10 Volkhonka St.

    The ground floor of the new building houses collections of works dating from the 19th and ealy-20th century. This floor also contains works by outstanding Russian artists of the 20th century: Aleksandr. Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, Aleksandr Tyshler, A. Weisberg and David Sterenberg in a hall specially designed for the display of individual donations. Four rooms on the first floor are taken up with the unique collection of Russian and foreign paintings and drawings which had belonged to the founder of the Museum – I.S.Zilbershtein.

    Alexander Rodchenko, Self-portrait, (1920):

    Varvara Stepanova, Self-portrait, (1920):

    Aleksandr Rodchenko, Dance: An Objectless Composition (1915):

    •.

  • Museums | Russian Federation
    Updated at Nov 17,2015

    Tip 1: The Winter Palace  - The State Rooms

    Tip 2: The Small Hermitage: French Art , Art of the Western European Middle Ages, Dutch Art and the Pavilion Hall

    Tip 3: The New Hermitage: Flemish, Dutch and German Art, The Twelve-Column Hall, The Knights' Hall, Italian Art

    Tip 4: The New and Old Hermitage: Italian and Spanish Renaissance and Fine Art.

    Tip 1 Main attractions: Rastrelli Staircase, The Great (Nicholas) Hall (Hall 191), The Concert Hall (room 190), Field Marshall Room (Room 193), The Malachite Room - Room 189, The Gambs Room - Room 185, The Library of Nicholas II - Room 178, The Boudoir - Room 306, The Gold Drawing Room - Room 304, The White Hall - Room 289, Room of French Art of the 18th Century - Room 287, Room of French Art of the 18th Century - Room 286, Alexander Hall - Room 282, The Picket Room - Room 196, The Armorial Hall - Room 195, The Peter the Great (Small Throne) Room - Room 194, The Field Marshall Room - Room 193, The War Gallery of 1812 - Room 197, The St. George (Large Throne) Hall - Room 198, The Great Church - Room 271,

    Note: For the French paintings of the 19th–20th centuries which are on display in the General Staff Building - see another blog.

    Opening Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.30 - 18.00.
    Wednesday, Friday: 10.30 - 21.00. Closed: Mondays,  January 1 and May 9.

    Prices:

    • The Main Museum Complex and its branches:
      the General Staff Building, the Winter Palace of Peter the Great,
      the Menshikov Palace, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory - 600 RUB. This is a combined entrance ticket to the State Hermitage allowing visiting all the museum facilities operated by the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg in two consecutive days, including: the main displays located in the five interconnected buildings of the museum on Palace Embankment; the displays in the General Staff building on Palace Square and the Menshikov Palace on University Embankment; the Winter Palace of Peter the Great down the Palace Embankment from the main complex; the Porcelain Museum on Prospekt Obukhovskoy oborony.
    • Entry ticket to one of the museum branches - 300 RUB. This is a regular entrance ticket to the State Hermitage allows visiting the complex of Hermitage buildings located on Palace Embankment that contain the main exhibition halls. It gives access to the museum displays housed in five interconnected buildings.
    • Schoolchildren, students (irrespective of their citizenship !), pensioners of the Russian Federation - FREE.
    • FREE admission for all visitors: The first Thursday of every month. Expect huge waiting queues. We did it on 2 JUL 2015. It took us 1.5 hrs waiting. We saw, in one day (which was satisfactory), the main museum complex (incl. the Winter palace). Herds of visitors around.

    Public Transport:
    Metro: Admiralteyskaya, Nevsky Prospekt, Gostiny Dvor.

    Buses: 7, 10, 24, 191.

    Trolleys: 1, 7, 10, 11.

    Entrance: from the Palace Square. Everyone appears to join an enormous queue. On-line tickets (see below) require that you swap your voucher for a ticket (approx.100-200 persons in that queue) and then another long queue to enter the Hermitage). SO, USE the AUTOMATIC MACHINES. There are a couple of self-service ticket machines in the courtyard before the main entrance. Enter the Palace Square, walk across past the monument towards the Winter Palace black iron gates. Enter Just through the arch, on the right as you enter the courtyard, there is a ticket machine. The instructions are in English and it costs 600 rubbles to buy a ticket. Join the short-time queue to the entrance and Voila ...

    Online tickets: You can avoid a L-O-N-G line at the ticketing office at the museum by purchasing Hermitage tickets online. When you place an order with the Hermitage e-shop (https://www.hermitageshop.org/tickets/), you will receive a Ticket Voucher via email in 20 minutes. Just print it and handle it, with your ID (Passport) on entry day. There are two types of tickets and  prices: 

    • 18 USD - one-day entrance ticket to the Main Museum Complex and the General Staff Building.
    • 23 USD - two-consecutive-days entrance ticket to the Hermitage museum, the General Staff Building and all museum's branches.

    If you are going to purchase tickets in advance, I recommend you do it on the Russian website because the tickets are cheaper. If you do not understand Russian, it does not matter, you can just use an automatic translator in your web browser or you can open both versions (the Russian and English page) on two different screens in order to understand the Russian.

    After you make your e-purchase you will be emailed a PDF voucher, which you must print out at home and present (along with a valid ID, like a passport) in a special kiosk just inside the museum courtyard (with the face inside - to the left). In return you’ll be given an admission ticket, and off you go, bypassing the line of people who, for whatever reason, would rather wait…and wait…and wait to get inside. You should print the voucher and present it on the day of your visit along with your ID !!!

    Guided tours:  guided tour ticket for one visitor in groups of maximum 25 people to the Main Museum Complex or the General Staff Building according to the tour schedule - 200 RUB. The tickets are purchased together with the entrance ticket upon arrival. Information about guided tours' hours is available daily at information stands at the main entrance.
    Guided tour tickets can be purchased at museum ticket offices. Visitors from abroad can enjoy tours in European languages: English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Audio-guides for 350 Rub are available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish as well. Please be aware, though, that it is not possible to buy tickets for neither the Gold nor the Diamond Treasure Rooms online (Floor 1). You are only allowed to visit these sections of the Museum on a scheduled guided tour.

    Food and Smoking: There is only one café in the whole building. It is right in the middle on the ground floor. It is a good idea to plan your tour in a way that you will come back to this place for a lunch or tea time break. Better - bring some protein bars or heartier snacks along with you in your bag and find a place for rest and lunch. Quite difficult to find. If you are a smoker you might be in trouble. Smoking obviously is prohibited inside the building, but on top of that there are no easy ways out or smoking areas. So best prepare yourself for a day without food and without a smoke !

    Photography: Flash photography or use of illumination devices are not allowed.

    Luggage: Backpacks go in lockers but if you have a large handbag there is no problem.

    Views from the museum's windows: the views from the windows are spectacular. There aren’t views like this anywhere else in the world.

    When are the best times to visit The Hermitage: The best time to visit the museum is in winter and spring, when there are less people. Should you be visiting St. Petersburg mainly to see the collection of the Hermitage, I advise you to go in winter! The whole winter palace is well heated and there are not even half as many tourists there as in summer. Believe me! You don’t want to wait a quarter of an hour to see the Pavilion Hall or one of the two Da Vincis with elbows pushing into your ribs from both sides. And if you still want to come in summer, it’s better to do this in the middle of the day while tour groups are having lunch. The museum can barely hold the large amount of visitors that arrive during the summer. In fact, the tourist crowds in summer make it impossible for true art lovers to see the basic museum collections.

    What not to see in the Hermitage Museum: this blog concentrates on the SECOND FLOOR only. Down in the first floor you will find a huge collection focused on ancient Greece and Egypt. Now if you’ve never seen an egyptian sarcophagus or a greek amphora you might want to consider checking this part of the collection. There are no true highlights to be found there like in the British Museum or the Pergamon in Berlin, or in the Louvre though. Most Hermitage museum guides do not really mention these at all. So better save those for another visit or another day. On the third floor there is some Art from Asia and Asia Minor. Probably the same can be said about these rooms: while interesting in itself there are other museums in the world that really specialized on these cultures. Rather save your time and head to the General Staff Building. You don’t want to miss that ! (see our blog on the GSB collections).

    Introduction: There is no museum in the world that rivals the Hermitage in size and quality. Its collection is so large that it would take months to view its whole treasures. There are nearly three million works on exhibit (17,000 paintings and 600,000 graphic works, over 12,000 sculptures and 300,000 works of craft, 700,000 archeological and 1,000,000 numismatic findings). The museum itself, IS STUNNING, BREATH-TAKING with its fine interior decoration and architectural detail. The museum consists of five buildings located in the historical center on the Neva embankment (southern shore of the Neva). The Winter Palace that comprises the main collection of the state museum has 1,057 halls and rooms. As the Hermitage is so enormous, its collection so impressive and diverse, and its interior so attractive in its own right - many visitors prefer to make several briefer visits rather than one lengthy, hurried and exhausting one-day tour. Many visitors don't try to see the entire museum in one day. Instead, they concentrate on one section or specialty. To see all the art displayed you'd have to cover a distance of about 22 km. Another way is to explore the whole main complex on a high-speed reconnaissance tour for a 2-3 hours to get an overview of as much as you can see. Then go back later (on another day when you've recovered!) to concentrate on your favorite bits and see them properly. Even so, after several visits you will touch only the tip of the iceberg... The museum is also worth a visit for its sumptuous interior.
    The Winter Palace in particular is magnificent, with its marvelous Jordan Staircase and dazzling splendor of the many state rooms.

    As we said before, the State Hermitage consists of five linked buildings along the Palace Embankment (north) (or: riverside Dvortsovaya nab.). From west to east they are:

    Winter Palace: This stunning mint-green, white and gold profusion of columns, windows and recesses, with its roof topped by rows of classical statues, was commissioned from Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1754 by Empress Elizabeth. Catherine the Great and her successors had most of the interior remodelled in a classical style by 1837. It remained an imperial home until 1917, though the last two tsars spent more time in other palaces.

    Small Hermitage: The classical Small Hermitage was built for Catherine the Great as a retreat that would also house the art collection started by Peter the Great, which she significantly expanded.

    Old Hermitage: At the river end of the Little Hermitage is the Old Hermitage, which also dates from the time of Catherine the Great.

    New Hermitage: Facing Millionnaya ul on the south end of the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage was built for Nicholas II, to hold the still-growing art collection. The Old and New Hermitages are sometimes grouped together and labelled the Large Hermitage.

    State Hermitage Theatre: Built in the 1780s by the classicist Giacomo Quarenghi, who thought it one of his finest works. Concerts and ballets are still performed here. In the same building but accessed from the Neva Embankment are the remains of the Winter Palace of Peter I.

    The museum is especially strong in Italian Renaissance and French Impressionist paintings, as well as possessing outstanding collections of works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, Tician, Rubens, Rembrandt, Picasso (the main complex) , Renoir and Matisse (the General Staff Building). Visitors should also take advantage of its excellent Greek and Roman antiquities collection (mostly, copies) and its exhibits of Central Asian art. The museum also hosts a world's best collection of Holland Baroque, French paintings of 19th and 20th centuries, Western European decorative art collection and a unique Gold of the Scythes exhibition. 

    History: The Winter Palace was built in 1754-1762 by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In 1764-75, at the order of Catherine the Great, Small Hermitage was erected by Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe and Yuri Felten. In 1771-87, Yuri Felten built the Great Hermitage. In 1783-87, based on Giacomo Quarenghi designs, the Hermitage theatre was built. The museum was damaged in an 1837 fire and reconstructed in the neoclassical style in the 19th cent. To complete the ensemble, in 1842-51 Leo von Klenze built the New Hermitage for the emperor museum.  Nicholas I also greatly enriched it and opened the galleries to the public for the first time in 1852.

    The origins of the Hermitage collections can be traced back to the private art collection of Peter the Great, who purchased numerous works during his travels abroad and later hung them in his residence. Catherine the Great expanded the collection considerably, and she and her successors built the Hermitage collection in large part with purchases of the private collections of the Western European aristocracy and monarchy. The collection of Catherine the Great began with the purchase of more than two hundred paintings from Berlin art merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. This collection consisted of a plethora of impressive works by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Raphael, Holbein, Tician, and several others. Historians say that during her lifetime Catherine the Great acquired 4,000 paintings by the old masters, 38,000 books, 10,000 engraved gems, 10,000 drawings, 16,000 coins and medals and a natural history collection filling two galleries. Catherine the Great aimed to enhance the international reputation of the Russian imperial court. At the same time, it was a display of power and wealth, sending an important political symbol to rival empires in Europe. By the time Nicholas II ascended the throne in 1894, he was heir to the greatest collection of art in Europe. Opened to the public in 1852, the museum contained only the imperial collections until 1917. After the Revolution of 1917, the museum was opened to the public, and its collection was further augmented by the addition of modern works taken from private collections. Today, the Hermitage has embarked on a major renovation effort. Its collection is in the process of being reorganized, and many of its works have for the first time become available for traveling exhibits outside of Russia. Today the collection on display is simply staggering and represents nearly every major epoch in the history of man, since Paleolithic times to the present day.

    The Hermitage now has a permanent partnership with the Guggenheim in New York and maintains permanent show rooms in London (Somerset House), Las Vegas (Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum), and Amsterdam (Hermitage-Amsterdam Exhibition Complex). It has also received a substantial technology grant from IBM for a digital image studio and a new interactive website. The complex also continues to host a theatre (built 1783), an orchestra (1989), a music academy (1997), a center for education and Internet technology (1997), in addition to shops, cafes, and other services.

    Future plans: The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg has announced plans to open a new institution in Moscow called the Hermitage Modern Contemporary Museum. The space will display some of the museum’s iconic 20th-century works as well as contemporary art. Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture of Asymptote Architecture, noted for their interactive virtual version of the Guggenheim, have been selected to design the museum, a 15-story structure.

    Getting in: High season: The biggest crowds of tourists gather in June and at the beginning of July for the legendary "White Nights". The Museum is closed on Mondays. If you come during high season, try to arrange the Hermitage visit for Wednesday afternoon and avoid the busiest day – Tuesday. There are less people during lunchtime and in the evenings (but keep in mind that you’ll need about 3-4 hours to see the most important Hermitage collections). Ticket offices close an hour earlier, than the museum itself. Low season: The best way to avoid waiting is to come either 10 minutes before opening time or after 15.00  - 16.00. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are the least crowded days. Try to avoid Tuesday even during low season. During school holidays crowds grow significantly (end of December - first week or two of January). In winter there’s often a waiting line for the cloakroom so even with a ticket you’ll probably have to wait a little bit.

    Hermitage Rastrelli Staircase is called, also,  Jordan Staircase. During state receptions and functions the Jordan Staircase was a focal point for arriving guests. After entering the palace through the Ambassadors' entrance, in the central courtyard, they would pass through the colonnaded ground floor Jordan Hall before ascending the staircase to the state apartments. It was here that the imperial family watched the Epiphany ceremony of baptism in the Neva River, which celebrated Christ's baptism in the Jordan River. This grandiose staircase retainins the original 18th-century style. Only the supporting  grey granite columns, were added in the mid 19th century. The staircase was badly damaged by a fire that ruined part of the palace in 1837.  Nicholas I ordered Vasily Stasov, the architect in charge of reconstruction, to restore the staircase using Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli's original plans. The stair hall is decorated with alabaster statues (some of which were brought from Italy in Peter the Great's reign) of Wisdom and Justice by Mikhail Terebenev (1795-1866); Grandeur and Opulence by Alexander Ustinov (1796-1868); Fidelity and Equity by Ivan Leppe; and Mercury and Mars by Apollon Manyulov. The 18th-century ceiling painting by Gasparo Diziani depicting Mount Olympus visually enlarges the interior that is transfused with light, gleaming gold and mirrors.

     

    The Jordan Staircase brings us up to the impressive rooms of state, where imperial receptions, official ceremonies, court festivities, and magnificent balls were held. This is a series of spectacular state rooms designed to overwhelm those entering  - with the imperial glory and military might of the Russian Empire. We start with the rooms of the Neva Enfilade, which runs west from the Jordan Staircase. Several rooms have spectacular views across the river to the Strelka on Vasilevskiy Island. We continue with a series of rooms which display entitled Russian Palace Interiors of the 19th Century, which, also, feature recreations of the Winter Palace's more private rooms: for example: Nicholas II's  Library Room and the charming, Russian Empire Music Room. At the southwest corner of the Winter Palace, a further cluster of rooms has been preserved, amongst them the incredibly magnificent Golden Drawing Room.

    The Great (Nicholas) Hall (Hall 191) of the Winter Palace: This room is the first to hit in the Great Suite of State Rooms in the Winter Palace. Tt derives a special grandeur from its Corinthian columns. After Nicholas I's death in 1855 a formal portrait of him was installed here and the hall was given his name:

    view to the Neva river from the Nicholas hall:

    The Concert Hall (room 190) is on right side (adjoining) of the Nicholas Hall. Also created by the architect Vasily Stasov after the 1837 fire. Paired Corinthian columns support a cornice bearing statues of the ancient muses and the goddess Flora.

    The Concert Room opens to the Room 189 - The Malachite Room. The Malachite Room, designed by Alexander Briullov, 1839, served as the state drawing-room of Empress Alexandra Fiodorovna, the wife of Tsar Nicholas I. On one of the walls is depicted an allegorical picture of Night, Day and Poetry by Antonio Vighi. There are also 19th-century works of decorative and applied art. During summer 1917 - this room was the main meeting point of the emerging Bolshevik government. The dominant color of this room - is deep green.

    Music Room - Room 187:

    Rossi Room - room 186:

    The Gambs Room - Room 185 - "Exhibition: The Decoration of the Russian Interior in the 19th Century". Former Study room of Tsarina Alexandra Fiodorovna. The display is devoted to the work of the best-known furniture-maker in Russia in the early years of the 19th century - Heinrich Gambs (1765-1831). Gambs arrived to St Petersburg in the 1790s and founded a firm that produced mahogany furniture and flourished until the 1870s.

    Drawing Room - room 184:

    Pompian Dining room - Room 183:

    Smoking Room - Room 179:

    The Library of Nicholas II - Room 178: Created in 1894-95 by the architexct Alexander Krasovsky with extensive use of English Gothic motifs. The bookcases are placed along the walls and on the upper gallery, which is reached by a staircase. In the gallery, on the desk - there is a porcelain sculpture portrait of Nicholas II, the last Russian emperor.

    Neo-classical Room - room 177:

    Art- Nouveau room - Room 176:

    Neo-Russian Room - room number is one of the three (173-175):

    Room 172 - Goblins and Glass Artworks:

    Personal items of Tsar Alexander II - Room 170:

    Russian Culture - 2nd half of the 18th century - room 169:

    Russian Culture - 1st half of the 18th century - A Cradle - room 167:

    The Boudoir - Room 306: The Boudoir was part of the apartments of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Alexander II. The posh room was designed in 1853 by the architect Herald Bosse. It is total Rococo- style room with deep crimson silk fabrics with metal threads, soft gilded furniture, heavy chandeliers reflected in the mirrors - all create a royal atmosphere and striking, intimate imperial feeling.

    The Golden Drawing Room - Room 304: one more apartment of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Alexander II. This room retains its original decoration. Here, the extensive room was designed and created, reconstructed following the fire of 1837, by the architect Alexander Briullov in 1838-41: stunning parquet floor, vaulted ceilling, marble or jasper columns, heavy gilt mouldings on the walls in a Byzantine style, multiple bas-reliefs, gilded doors, glass cabins, impressive marble fireplace and mosaic pictures:

    We are, now, in the most south-west room - The White Hall - Room 289: Again, the White Hall, was, also, designed and created by Alexander Briullov for the wedding of the future Emperor Alexander II in 1841. The dominant color is different shades of white. Centered in the White Hall are figures of ancient Roman gods. On top of the Corinthian columns are  figures symbolizing the arts. Displayed, in the hall, pictures of French painters from the second half of the 18th century: Hubert Robert, Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and Jean-Louis Voille:

    The White Hall - Room 289: view to the Palace Square:

    Room of French Art of the 18th Century - Room 287: In the centre of the room is the famous sculpture of Voltaire that was commissioned by Catherine II (who exchanged letters with Voltaire for 16 years) and created by the sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon. Volataire is presented and dressed as a Greek philosopher. Other pictures, in the room, are: Still life by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, The Washerwoman (1735), Saying Grace (1740) by Jean-Baptiste Chardin.

    Room 286 - Winter by the 8th-century French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet:

    Marie-Anne Collot (French 1748-1821) made the sculpture of Voltaire - which stands also in Room 286. Collot made the bust of Voltaire around 1770 to Catherine's commission. The philosopher was well known in Russia, where his works on Russian history had been published even before Catherine's reign. When she took the throne in 1762, the Empress began a long correspondence with Voltaire that ended only with his death in 1778. To create the bust Collot used existing depictions of Voltaire:

    Room 286: view to the Palace Square:

    French Decorative Art - Room 283:

    French Decorative Art - Alexander Hall - Room 282: the room is dedicated to Emperor Alexander I and commemorates the reign of Emperor Alexander I and the Napoleonic Wars - particularly, the French invasion to Russia (Patriotic War of 1812). Created by Alexander Briullov after the 1837 fire. The walls contain twenty-four medallions commemorating Russia's victory over the French, created by the sculptor Count Fyodor Tolstoy:

    We move, now, to a series of state room - NORTHWARD.

    The Picket Room - Room 196 : designed by Vasily Stasov in 1838 and intended for the changing of the internal palace guard. It was, in this, roo, where the lesser court staff members, accompanied by their wives - greeted the Tsar family. Reliefs with motifs of military equipment are placed between the pilasters. Paintings of the vaulted ceiling depict battle scenes of the Patriotic War of 1812 by Peter von Hess. The room also contains works by 16th- to 18th-century silversmiths of Augsburg and Nuremberg as part of the Hermitage's large collection of German silverware. You can see, here, personal belongings of Napoleaon and his rival - Marshall Kutuzov:

    Battle of Viazma on 22 October 1812:

    The Armorial Hall - Room 195: the Armorial Hall of the Winter Palace was intended for grand receptions. It was created by Vasily Stasov in the late 1830s. The entrances to the hall are flanked by sculptural groups of early Russian warriors. Attached to the shafts of their banners were little shields bearing the arms of the Russian provinces, which gave the hall its name.

    The Peter the Great (Small Throne) Room - Room 194: created in 1833 by Auguste Montferrand and restored after the 1837 fire by Vasily Stasov. The room featuring crimson velvet wall panels embroidered with silver double-headed eagles and decorated with a plethora of gilt. The room commemorates Peter the Great. its decoration features the Emperor's monogram (two Latin letters P), double-headed eagles and crowns. In a niche that is designed like a triumphal arch is a painting of Peter-the-great  accompanied by the allegorical figure of Glory (Minerva) (by Jacopo Amigoni). Above the throne we note the painting of hovering cupid ready to place a crown upon Peter's royal head. Set into the upper parts of the walls are paintings (by Pietro Scotti and Barnaba Medici) depicting Peter in major battles of the Northern War. The throne was made in St Petersburg in the late 18th century. The room also contains two large battle scenes from Peter's victorious northern war against Sweden (Battle of Poltava and the Battle of Lesnaya by Pietro Scotti (1768-1837) and Barnabas Medici). In this room - the foreign delegates greeted the Tsar for the upcoming new year:

    The next hall northward (turning to the left at the top of the Rastrelli staircase) we reach the Field Marshall Room - Room 193. Placed on the walls between the pilasters are portraits of Russian filedmarshals - in honor of Russia's military leaders. Hence the name of the room. The room contains full-length portraits of Russian Field Marshals - most notably (from left to right) Kutuzov, Suvorov and Potemkin. Further motifs of military glory embellish the massive gilded bronze chandeliers and the paintings on the ceiling:

    Portrait of Suvorov:

    Prince Mikhail Kutuzov of Smolensk:

    RETURN TO ROOM 195 and move eastward to The War Gallery of 1812 - Room 197: Gallery dedicated to the victory of Russian arms over Napoleon. It was built by Karl Rossi and unveiled on the anniversary of the exile of Napoleon in Russia, 25 December 1826. Placed on its walls painted portraits by George Dawe 332 generals – members of the war in 1812 and foreign campaigns of 1813-1814:

    The gallery has a portrait of Emperor Alexander I and King of Prussia, Frederick III of F. Kruger:

    a portrait of Emperor Franz I of Austria by P. Kraft:

    Room 197 opens eastward to The St. George (Large Throne) Hall - Room 198: Created in the early 1840s by Vasily Stasov who followed the compositional approach of his predecessor, Giacomo Quarenghi. The grand decor of the hall accords with its function as the setting for official ceremonies and receptions. The columned hall with two tiers of windows is finished with Carrara marble. The great imperial throne was made in London to a commission from Empress Anna Ioannovna (by Nicholas Clausen, 1731-32). The hall has a magnificent parquet floor made from 16 varieties of wood:

    Return (westward) to room 197 and continue southward to room 270. from there continue to The Great Church - Room 271:  this room belonged to the suite of rooms in the Old (Large) Hermitage in the mid-19th century. The interior décor has not survived. During restoration in 2003 the walls were painted the colour of the cloth that used to cover/decorate the room. The majority of the works in this room were painted by Veronese (1528-1588) the greatest artist of the Venetian school :

    Here, we finalize our visit in the Hermitage state rooms. There are more state room like the Pavilion Hall (room 204) - but, they are included in our following tips in this blog. Now, skip to Tip 2.

  • Museums | Spain > Madrid
    Updated at May 28,2013

    (3) Reina Sofia Museum - not far from the Thiesen, near Atocha (the central train station) - MUST see the Gernica, Picasso's most famous painting that he painted as a goodbye present to Spain when he left to France after the civil war. One of the most famous paintings in the world. Other than that - not mch to see.

  • Museums | Spain > Madrid
    Updated at May 28,2013

    (5) Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum - very close to Plaza Neptuno. One of the biggest private collection in the world and it's just a great museum to see.

  • Museums | Germany > Gutach, Germany > Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof
    Updated at May 28,2013

    Not far from a the Rodelbahn you can visit the Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof (open air museum). The museum, located on a farmhouse dating to 1612, features reconstructed buildings and simulations of the activities typical to a farmhouse in those days.


    You can see an exhibition of typical work carried out by travelling craftsmen, exhibitions on dairy and livestock farming in the Black Forest and exhibition of woodworking craft. There is also an exhibition on clocks and traditional costumes of the Black Forest, and of forestry management and glassblowing and a collection of regional stone and minerals. I wouldn’t miss the demonstration of the old flower mill - the kids loved it (www.vogtsbauernhof.org).

  • Museums | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 12,2014

    Victoria and Albert Museum - not to be missed by anyone with an interest in fashion, ceramics, history, interior design or art. Wonderful mix of modern, traditional, and historically themed galleries. Amazing breadth and depth of subject matter.

    Start & End, Acess: Tunnel to the South Kensington Tube stop.

    Admission: Free admission.

    Duration: Like the British Museum, this is a place you could spend an hour or several days. This museum is so huge and endless that one visit is not enough! Far too much to see in one visit so if you have limited time do your research before you arrive to make the best use of your time you need to be selective.

    Food: The restaurant is enormous but very popular so if you want lunch you need to be aware that at peak times it's crowded. The restaurant is excellent with great variety of food and a magnificent setting in the original decorated 19th century dining halls.

    The Morris Room, designed by William Morris:

    Tips: Go to the cafe it is beautiful, often a piano player on Saturdays.Go in the spring or the summer and sit outside by the pond.

     The V&A is enormous, probably a little overwhelming. Free guided tours will reveal details of a small sample of the exhibits - for days or weeks. Or just admire the design and workmanship as you explore the galleries. This is an amazing building with an interesting collection of exhibits. Visit this imposing building and its contents, you won't be disappointed.

    The building itself is astonishing:

    Entrance from Cromwell road. Dale Chilhuly chandelier in the entry:

    The Photography Gallery:

    Other Britain:

     Robert Frank (born 1924), London Street, 1951:

     China Culture:

    A messenger with a letter - from a family tomb:

    Qifao Manchofe - 1644-1919, Chinese dress of the elite':

    Lady Portrait Qins Dynasty 1830-1900:

    Heroic soldier 2nd Century AD:

    Tomb guard man, retaliates ghosts, Tang Dynasty 700-750 AD:

    Laozi - Old man riding on ox - Qing dynasy 18th century:

    Bodhisattva, Jin dynasty 1115-1234:

     

    Cloud on a mountain, modern art work, year 2000:

    Ivory model of ship, 1800 AD:

    Head of Buddha, Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD):

     Japan culture:

    Karaov -Chinese dress of women in cermonial events, year 1980:

    Inro - small parcels for carrying money, medicines and stamps, Edo period, 1615-1868:

    Amida -Buddhist figure, king of the wetern paradise, 1200-1300:

    One of (ten) judges of Hell:

    Oyoroi - Armour,  1100-1200 AD:

    Guan Di, 1640-1700, Qing Dynasty, famous General that fought in the civil wars 2nd-3rd centuries AD:

    Samurai:

    Korea culture:

    Modern silk dress, year 1995:

    India culture:

    Shiva, Nataraju-Chola, 8th - 10th centuries AD:

    Parsvanetha - one of the Jain religion saints:

    Famous Tipoo's Tiger, Mysore, India, musical instrument:

    Part of tent, South India, 1640:

    Surya, the Sun God holds Lotus flowers, middle of 13th century, Karnatha, India:

    Black hot dance, part of dancer apron, Tibet, 19th century:

    Wish Fullfilling Cow, Hindu, 1900-1950:

    Room 48a: The Raphael Cartoons. Photos not allowed:

    This room houses the surviving designs painted by Raphael, one of the greatest of all Italian Renaissance artists, for tapestries commissioned in Rome in 1515 by Pope Leo the 10th. These were to be hang in the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican, Rome on the walls beneath the ceiling by his contemporary Michelangelo. Although, originally, only designs (known as 'cartoons') to guide the weavers, they are now among the greatest artistic treasures in Britain. Owned by the British Royal Family since 1623. They have been on loan to the Museum since year 1865. Leo X commissioned a set of tapestry designs, or cartoons, from Raphael in 1515. The ten cartoons depicted episodes from the lives of Saints Peter and Paul. The scenes, whose content Leo X most likely worked out in discussion with Raphael and Vatican theologians, all served to emphasise the pre-eminence of the Roman Church and the legitimacy of papal succession. His choice of Raphael as designer of the tapestries was a bold move. Tapestries had long been a speciality of Flanders, with Flemish artists providing the designs and doing the weaving. By commissioning tapestry designs from one of the giants of Italian art, Leo X was creating something special - a combination of Italian Renaissance aesthetics and Flemish weaving expertise:

    Raphael, The Healing of the Lame Man:

    Raphael, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes:

    Raphael, Christ's Charge to Peter:

    Raphael, The Sacrifice at Lystra:

    Retablo of St. George, from a church in valencia, Spain:, 1410 AD:

    The Middle Ages section:

    The Boppard Altar piece, wood relief, 1500-1510 AD:

    Clay relief, Andrea de la Robia, 1500-1510 AD:

    Virgin of the Misericordia - Bartholomeo Bon, Venice School:

    Copy of relief on a warrior tomb, Verona, Italy:

    Middle Ages and Renaissance sculptures:

    Metalwork of Coventry, Francis Skidmore, The Hereford Screen:

    Samson slaying a Philistine, Giovanni Bologna:

    Leonardo-de-Vinci Codex. The V&A has five of Leonardo's notebooks in its collections. Known as the Codex Forster, the notebooks were owned by John Forster and bequeathed by him to the V&A in 1876.

    British Galleries, room 57a. The Great Bed of Ware, 1590:

    Young Man among Roses (Portrait miniature),  ca. 1587, England,Hilliard, Nicholas:

    Three portraits of Charles I, ca. 1750:

    Charles II:

    Cabinet of John Evelyn, 1664-1665:

     The State Bed from Melville House, Fife, is the most spectacular single exhibit in the Victoria and Albert Museum's British Galleries, 1700:

    George Friedrich Handel, 1738:

     Table Clock:

    Paintings, room 87. Life-Boat and Manby Apparatus Going Off to a Stranded Vessel Making Signal (Blue Lights) of Distress
    Turner, born 1775 - died 1851:

    Hove Beach with Fishing Boats, John Constable, England, early 19th century:

    East Cowes Castle, William Turner:

    Middle East section:

    Picnic Mosaic, Isfahan, Iran, 1600-1700 AD:


    Carpet from Isfahan, Iran:

    Portrait of Fath Ali Shuh, 1800-1830 AD:

    Mosaic of Mecca and the Black Stone, Iznik, Turkey:

    Miniature of Gaht, Tiruchirappalli, India:

    Persian Miniature:

    Gold, Silver & Mosaics, room 70:

    The Lafayette Vase, given as a gift to Gilbert du Motier' Marquis de Lafayette who assisted in the French Revolution and the USA Independence War in 1830:

    Silver tray for holding babies in wealthy families:

    Design and Furniture Galleries:

    The Library, design from 1945:

    Quasimodo, Lindvall, Jonas, born 1963, Sweden, 1995:

    Dyson Vacuum Cleaner, designed for the Japanese market, 1979:

    Cucumber Sandwiches; Weeds, Aliens and Other Stories (Bench), 1998, London,  Anastassiades, Michael:

    Chair, Sweden, 1994-1997, Dahlström, Björn, CBI (manufacturer):

     

    Chair Thing, Murdoch, Peter, born 1940:

    Chair, Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 - died 1928:

    Japanese Drawers cupboard, 1970:

    Home appliances:

    Radio sets 1920-1960:

    Patriot Midget (Radio), 1940, United States, Bel Geddes, Norman:

    The Cast Court (Note: some of the large works are actually copies made...):

    Relief from Santo Domingo de Silos Monastery, Spain:

    Reliefs from Aixe-de-Provence and bronze bodies of British nobles from the Rouen Cathedral:


    Jesus carries the Cross, from a church in Nuremberg:

    Troy conquest - from a church in Rome:

    Figure of woman, Italian sculpture from 1472. Exhibited in Berlin Museum, destroyed in WW2 and restored:

    Copy of Verrochio sculpture (original in Florence), David and Goliath:

    "The Becket Casket." V&A Museum, London. From Limoges, France, ca. 1180-1190:

     The Sculptures Court:

    Albert Einstein, 1933, by Jacob Epstein:

    Propspero and Ariel, 1931, by Eric Gill:

    Crouching Boy, Manfred Turner, 1934:

    Rodin Sculptures:

     The Age of Bronze, circa1876, by Auguste Rodin:

    Balsac, Rodin, 1891-1892:

    Michelangelo's Moses, 1513-1515 (cast):

    Donatello, David, 1425-30 (cast):

    Caius Gabriel Cibber, 1680-1690:

    Three Lions from Rosenburg castle, Copenhagen:

     The Historical Fashion Exhibit is a major highlight of interest to young and old even if fashion isn't necessarily your thing and of major international importance:

     Grace Kelly,  Style Icon exhibition, evening dresses, the 20ths of the 20 century:

    Grace Kelly, Style Icon exhibition, Day dresses, 1935:

     John Madjesk Garden - V & A Museum inner court:

     

  • Museums | Germany > Todtnau
    Updated at May 22,2013

    Before visiting the waterfalls you might like to visit the local glass factory and museum, located in an old wooden house, 3 stories high, called “Glosblaserhof”. Here you will find glass artifacts, jewels and other fine (and expansive) accessories. There is also a nice restaurant in the location.