Five “fashionable” museum exhibits for those who can’t make it to New York Fashion Week

museum exhibits - smithsonian museum of american historyCan’t make it to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City? Never fear – these fashionable museum exhibits will help you get your fix.

We’ve heard of a museum where you can touch the goods – but what about one where you can smell them? The Museum of Arts & Design in New York City has hired former New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr to head their “Center of Olfactory Art” as well as its inaugural exhibit, “The Art of Scent, 1889 – 2001,” opening in November 2011.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is offering a retrospective of famed designer Jean Paul Gautier entitled The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.” It opens June 17.

New York’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is offering a more timely (at least for those sad about missing NYFW) look at big-time bling with, “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels.” It opens February 18.

New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is paying tribute to Alexander McQueen with “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.” It opens May 4.

You don’t have to wait to see Washington D.C.’s finest fashions on display. Simply visit the for the “First Ladies at the Smitsonian” exhibit, a permanent gallery that has long been one of the museum’s most popular.

If you do make it to New York, look out for the Stylist Mobile Makeover Bus that will be parked outside the Lincoln Center tents.

Met returns Tutankhamun artifacts to Egypt


New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is returning 19 artifacts from King Tutankhamun’s tomb to Egypt. This is another success in Egypt’s ongoing battle to bring home its heritage. Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass is spearheading the drive and says he’s repatriated more than 5,000 artifacts. These include a fragment of Egyptian sculpture the Met discovered last year had actually been stolen, and other items from collections all over Europe and North America.

According to the Met’s press release, the artifacts made their way into the museum’s collection in the years following the tomb’s discovery by Howard Carter in 1922. Carter and the Egyptian authorities had agreed that all of his finds were Egyptian property, and the objects should never have been allowed to be sold or bequeathed to the Met. After Carter’s death, his own home was found to be decorated with loot from the tomb. Most of the Met’s artifacts are fragments that were used as scientific samples, but the collection includes a bronze dog and a sphinx bracelet.

The objects will join the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at Discovery Times Square Exposition before going on display at the Met for six months. After that, they’ll finally join King Tut’s other treasures in Cairo, like the scarab bracelet in the above photo.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Weekending: Bodrum/Greece


As an expat in Istanbul, I am very fortunate to have awesome opportunities for short trips around Europe and the Middle East. My previous weekend jaunt was to Beirut, Lebanon. Though the current 90+ degree weather is ruling out a lot of domestic travel for now, for my next getaway, I made like the locals and headed south to the beach.

The place: Bodrum, Turkey

The Bodrum peninsula fancies itself the Turkish Riviera, though the town proper feels a bit more like the Jersey Shore, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Bodrum coast (like the Jersey Shore) has great beaches and fun nightlife, though it lacks the sophistication of other European beach towns and the coastline is getting more developed each season. Still, there’s charm left in Bodrum town, beautiful castle and harbor views, and easy boat access to more secluded spots in Turkey and even Greece. Big and boutique resorts with private beaches (many of them jetties) line the sea though you may have to rent a car or rely on taxis and dolmuses (minibuses) to get around. As we wanted to stay in a walkable area with restaurants nearby, we chose the Su Hotel in town, on a quiet street close to the harbor, with a good-sized pool and friendly service.
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  • Water is the big draw to Bodrum, though the town itself has only a few small strips of beach, with most of the beach clubs and resorts in neighboring towns like Bitez and Gümbet. The few town beaches are small but serviceable, as well as convenient and most often free, though you may be obliged to buy a drink from one of the adjoining cafes. If you’re after the wide, sandy beach experience, you’re better off in a resort outside of town or taking day trips.
  • Hop on a boat and be in Greece in an hour. From the ferry, you can walk to a beach where 5 euro will get you two chairs, some bottled water, and an umbrella. Pleasant Kos Town doesn’t have a wealth of tourist attractions, but does remind you how NOT European Turkey is, if only for the good wine, availability of pork, and sensible city planning. Alternatively, boat trips are offered all over town to nearby islands and coves in Turkey.

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  • While sometimes it’s pleasant to visit a foreigner-friendly city where English is widely spoken and familiar foods are available, after seeing the third cafe in a row serving a full English breakfast, Bodrum’s popularity with Brits and Australians becomes overwhelming and almost demoralizing. I happened to be in town during the England-Germany World Cup match, and the English loss could be heard up and down the streets. On the plus side, a nice book market on Cumhuriyet Caddesi towards the east end sells English books for as little as 5 TL.
  • You don’t come to Bodrum for sightseeing, but the main attractions can still be a little disappointing. The Castle of St. Peter holds the Museum of Underwater Archaeology (admittedly, I hoped it would actually BE underwater) and while the views from the castle are spectacular and several of the exhibits are interesting, the highlights (the cool-sounding Glass Shipwreck and remains of a Carian princess) are only open Tuesday – Friday. Imagine if New York’s Met Museum closed the Temple of Dendur on weekends or the Louvre limited days to see the Mona Lisa?! Likewise, the Mausoleum might have once been one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but not much of it remains.

Getting there

Bodrum is an hour flight from Istanbul, with sporadic direct flights from continental Europe in season. The airport is 60 kilometers from town and a pricey 90 TL taxi ride, but a shuttle bus connects with domestic flights for 17 TL. If you have early or late flights, be sure to factor in the round-trip taxi fare to the cost of your travel. Ferries depart for Kos (also Rhodes) in the morning and return late afternoon for around 55 TL.

Make it a week

Get your bearings in Bodrum town and then sail a gulet yacht for a cruise along the Aegean. Booking a cabin will cost from 400 euro per person including meals (but not alcohol), crew, fuel, and taxes for a week, chartering the whole yacht can run thousands of euro but can work for a group of friends or family. Do your homework and shop around; Turkey Travel Planner is a good primer.

Hidden Gem: New York’s temporary art gallery

I can’t tell you how long the art gallery at 25 Central Park West will be there: even the organizers don’t know. But, it’s worth checking the group’s website if you plan to pass through Manhattan in the next month (or longer, we hope) to make sure the project is still going on. There’s always something amazing happening at this vacant retail space.

I found the 25PW gallery by accident. I was walking down Central Park West last November. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw people inside an empty commercial spot at the corner of Central Park West and W 62nd Street. They were carrying hammers and paintings. So, I checked the door, which wasn’t locked, went inside and met Bess Greenberg, one of the founders of 25CPW, a non-profit that runs all the action inside this art gallery.

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According to Greenberg, 25CPW will be able to keep the space until a tenant comes along and is willing to meet the manager’s asking price (which hasn’t happened yet). In the three months that 25CPW has occupied the space, it has hosted art exhibitions, musical performances and an auction to benefit charitable organizations focused on Afghanistan. A recent show featuring works by the guards at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art attracted the most attention, though every event I’ve attended at 25CPW has been packed.

The fact that there’s now a cool art scene on the Upper West Side alone is worth a visit – this kind of thinking usually happens in other neighborhoods. So, the curiosity factor alone should be enough to put this stop on your itinerary. But, that’s the least of the many reasons to pay a visit to 25CPW. The best is whatever event is being featured on a particular day. They’ve all been fantastic.

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How to get an F in art class: fall through a Picasso

Drunken airline passengers aren’t the only people to do stupid things. An art student examining a Picasso painting somehow managed to fall into it and put a six-inch tear into the priceless work of art.

The painting, called The Actor and dating to the winter of 1904-05, was on display at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The woman who did the damage was not named, but it’s likely she won’t be showing her face around the Met anytime soon. Museum officials were quick to reassure art lovers that the damage would be repaired in time for the Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, which opens April 27 and will feature 150 of the artist’s works from the museum’s collection.

There is no report on what grade she got in her class. No extra credit for guessing the correct answer.