Thursday, January 28, 2010

A trip to the museum- Chapter 6, a building inside a building and under appreciated craftsmen

So, here we are, back at the museum for another peek. This time, to see what was at the bottom of the spiral staircase ( shown in the previous post) with smooth wrought iron railing and spindles, worn stone steps, bottle glass windows and the promise of something wonderful to discover when coming out of the bottom archway.
So here it is....

It is a building inside a building. We are standing in a courtyard, of sorts, surrounded by this. You can hardly believe your eyes that it is so massive and tall and detailed...and the more you spin yourself around the more your eyes find to study. This area is in the middle of the museum and is used as a courtyard cafe. 20 or so round tables are scattered for your enjoyment, at which to sit and relax or have a coffee, tea or dessert. Yummy soups and muffins were also available.

I adore architecture so this was so much eye candy I was bordering on being abandoned by my VERY embarrassed children as I stood there looking a fool, and uttering silly rambling comments as I spun on my heels to take it all in between gasps.

Yes, I had been there before, years ago. Yes, I knew this was at the bottom of the spiraling stairs. It was just that it was just so much.....well...MORE than I had remembered. I know you must think I am ready for a padded room and a fashionable jacket which ties tightly in back. I can't help my enthusiasm for old architecture. These photos don't begin to show the immenseness and detail in the stone trim and windows... and everything. I can appreciate in other countries there are many structures that are considered "new"at 300 years old or more, but here in the USA we do not have so much opportunity to experience wonder in old buildings. I am so hungry for architectural beauty that, in my travels, I have even photographed old warehouse buildings that have the most incredible gargoyles and brackets and window trim detail. That's how they used to build warehouses. Warehouses! Sometimes it seems that throughout the decades the move has been to get rid of "old".
Instead, boring, white bread architecture seems to rule. To top it off it, the newer buildings are so often put up so quickly they are not built to last nor are they meant to last, because surely some newer way will come along and we will tear down that "old" and make something even "newer" in it's place. And so it goes.

Case in point, our school system is tearing down all the buildings that are 85 years old or more to build new ones. There was nothing wrong with them. They all are beautiful, large and sturdy (for gosh sakes they all had fallout shelter signs on them still displayed from the cold war era. "Duck and cover!"). The problem, they say, is the heating is antiquated and the retrofitting for the 21st century technology is too difficult.
Some new schools that have been built already in the past 5 years are experiencing leaky roofs and holes in plaster walls, plumbing issues, worn out flooring, etc, etc. But that's ok, "cuz we'll just tear those down and build something in 3 months (or less) time, nondescript in detail and sub quality.
Why not just spend the money to make the old schools work for today's heating and computers? I mean these old schools have lovely details outside and inside. Heavy REAL wooden doors and detailed REAL wood framework around chalk boards, windows, doors etc (oh yeah, remember chalk boards? --Soon to be a thing of the past. Even white wipe off dry erase boards are becoming passe.)I will probably get bad comments on my opinions about all this.

Ok, back to the museum!!
Before this gets too long- and remember I promised these museum chapters wouldn't be as long as a Harry Potter book- I should tell you about one more thing.
I think teaching opportunities present themselves each and every day if you pay attention. I discussed with the kids the fact that the wonderful art paintings all have frames. Frames that were built with talent, great care, attention to detail and a lot hard work and long hours. Think of it, back in the days when power tools were not yet imagined. First you had to have a place with enough space to build a frame- though rarely simple in craftsmanship, some of them were simply massive in size, and take up a whole wall in the museum. Then you had to be able to get it out of the building after it was built. Oh yeah, and you had to transport the frame. It is, unfortunately, easy to look at an art painting and under appreciate the frame and the person that made the frame. Even if these frames are not your personal style, it is still worth the effort to stop and think about it...."The big picture", to use a (very bad) pun.

For the next chapter, we will look at some of the paintings held within the frames that were made by someone that was no doubt under appreciated for their skill... and underpaid, I am sure.
I will try to be a good blogging girl and stay on subject and not head off on a rant. Cross your fingers on that one!


Jennifer Conway said...

I'm thouroughly enjoying your museum posts......absolutely gorgeous eye candy......

Lois said...

Hi Amy!
I loved the post!It's so nice to know that I am not the only one who appreciates architecture. I spend more time looking at the buildings when we go places than paying attention to the displays or whatever that is in them. Now I can tell my hubby that I AM NOT the only person in the world that does that! LOL!
Thanks for sharing...everything...I am enjoying it very much!