THATMuse
Hans Sloane

Dubbed the first national public museum in the world, the British Museum didn’t start off as a grand, Greek-style building full of Egyptian mummies, Roman statues and Aztec turquoise. The museum has changed quite a bit in its almost 300-year history, but began with the donation of Hans Sloane (above), a high-society Irish physician – who also invented hot chocolate. What claims to fame!

Upon his death in 1753, Sloane bequeathed his collection of fantastic antiquities, books, and natural specimens to the nation. King George II and Parliament wanted Sloane’s collection to be seen by the people, not … Read More

President Obama presents the 2009 National Humanities Medal to Philippe De Montebello in Washington, taken from daylife.com

I haven’t been very good on the blog front in the past few weeks, struggling to keep up on all my fronts. So as I task myself with returning to some semblance of regular posting I have a bit of distance.  What is it I’d like to get out of blogging here? Overall this blog has addressed either specific works of art at the Louvre (which may just help THATLou participants in their bonus questions) or has reviewed wonderfully memorable treasure hunts and … Read More

Discovering Paris with THATRue: An Intern’s Perspective

I arrived in Paris on a Saturday morning with a layer of sleep that glazed my eyes, but the genuine anticipation of beginning my THATLou internship on Monday– not to mention living in the most amazing city in the world — made that daze of jetlag fade away.  My internship did not start slowly; I would be jumping into my first THATRue hunt on Thursday and my first client would be the Dutch Embassy (a 70-person party). There was no way I could shake off the nervous-excitement that I felt for that day, so I spent the rest of my … Read More

Musée de l’Orangerie
Musée de l’Orangerie, photo by Lilian Lau, of http://www.lilianlau.com/

Now that’s a great photo, no? Lilian Lau is a jack of many trades: from a post-doc science researcher to a wonderful travel writer (links to a sampling are below). After first meeting her at last January’s THATd’Or (created in conjunction with the AFMO), Lilian generously put me in touch with Camille Breton, of Science Académie, for whom I built the Arts + Sciences hunt. Since then we’ve been having lovely lingering lunches between her globetrotting flights. Here she picks up on the Museum Musings (which I had initially intended Read More

Museum Mummies: Games to engage your kids at the museum


Because my mother was an art historian, we spent at least part of each weekend prowling European painting collections across New York. I grew up in the West Village and associated uptown with The Met and Frick. To keep me quiet, she concocted all sorts of art games, which I’ve been handing down to my 4.5 year old, Storsh (he thinks of the Louvre and British Museum as playgrounds).

She did such a good job of it that I not only got my degrees in Art History, but when I had Storsh, a premature worry set in over what his … Read More

The Prado’s Gioconda



La Gioconda contemporary copy, 1503 – 1516, Museo del Prado, taken from Wikipedia

The other day I touched on Spain’s Span Across Europe in the general. It’s true that Spain’s reach was just so broad that it’s hard to know what to focus on at the Prado (the royal collection reflecting the crown’s omnipresence). However, what’s better to linger on than a hermetically sealed connection between the Prado and the Louvre? And what better represents the Louvre than Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa? It’s a painting I generally avoid – in my treasure hunts, or in person at the museum. … Read More


Diego Velazquez, 1634 Medici Gardens in Rome, at the Prado, taken from Wikipedia

The Prado, like the Louvre, takes a bit of context. It is a Royal Collection, and the royalty in Spain was; Well, full of stories, to say the least. The Spanish had an enormous empire, but two provinces of supreme artistic value were Naples and the Lowlands (they had the Spanish Netherlands from 1579 – 1713 – roughly corresponding to Belgium and Luxembourg).

In 1700 the mentally infirm Hapsburg King Charles II of Spain named Louis XIV’s second grandson, Philip (Duc d’Anjou), as his heir. At 16, … Read More

To close off our new Islamic wings visits, we’re hopping across the pond from London’s Victoria and Albert Islamic Wing to NY. In 2011 The Met opened 19,000 sq feet (1770 m) of space devoted to Islamic art (the formal name of which is so long I’m not going to bother with it here). They haven’t had a new wing devoted to Islamic art since 1975. Worse, still, that was closed in 2003 to make room for the expanded Greek and Roman wing (which is utterly divine, by the way). The irony being, of course that this decision was made … Read More

Largest, Oldest, Most Famous. These adjectives catch my attention. Continuing on this thread of new Islamic art wings at major museums (the Louvre, The Met), we’ve crossed the channel to London’s Victoria and Albert. The centerpiece to the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art, which opened in July 2006, is just that: The largest, the oldest signed, and undoubtedly the most famous Persian carpet in the world. Behold the Ardabil Carpet.

When William Morris, an art referee for the museum at the time (and the grandfather of textile design), first saw the Ardabil carpet in 1893 he was smitten, … Read More

So after this bout of considering the Near Eastern Antiquities (from the oldest piece at the Louvre, to huge gentle Lamassus, fearsome Persian griffins and big bulls), what’s more logical than to turn my attention to the Louvre’s imminent Islamic Art wing in the Visconti Wing? It’s been in the making for quite some time. Back when Chirac and his adorable nose were leading France, the NY Times ran a piece on one of the major donors to construct the new wing. Apparently Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal’s donation of million was the largest gift ever made to a … Read More

photo taken from the Met’s website

Frank Lloyd WRIGHT (1867-1959)

Window from the Coonley House, 1912

Height 86 ¼ x 28 x 2 inches, glass and zinc

The Avery Coonley House, in a suburb of Chicago, was designed by FLW and constructed in 1907-8. Bonus fifty points if you get a tourist to take your whole team’s photo in the Frank Lloyd Wright room nearby — and for those New Yorkers who don’t know where this room is, shame on you. But to put THATMet aside for a moment I must tell you a quick story from FLW’s life, which you … Read More

taken from the Met’s website

Louis Henri SULLIVAN (1856-1924)

Chicago Stock Exchange Building Staircase, cast iron, walnut banister 1893

Louis Sully, as an old art history teacher used to lovingly call him, has been considered many things: The Father of the Skyscraper, the Grandfather of Modernism, the head honcho of the Prairie school. Mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, Savvy Mr Sully is one of the “Recognised Trinity of American Architecture” along with Henry Hobson Richardson (think of that horrible Trinity Church in Boston, ‘Richardsonian Romanesque’) and Frank Lloyd Wright (who needs no reminders). Demolished in 1972, there’s a smattering of the … Read More