Remodeled Hunterian Art Gallery In Glasgow Reopens With Rembrandt Exhibition

The Hunterian Art Gallery, part of the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, has just reopened after a nine-month remodel that expanded its exhibition space.

Its opening show is “Rembrandt and the Passion,” which showcases one of the Hunterian’s most famous works of art, Rembrandt’s “Entombment Sketch,” alongside the final painting of the “Entombment” (shown here courtesy the University of Leipzig) and about 40 other masterpieces.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was one of Europe’s greatest painters and printmakers. This exhibition explains how the “Entombment Sketch” served as the model for the later painting. Rembrandt had been commissioned to create a series of paintings on the Passion of Christ for the Prince of Orange. It was one of the most important commissions of his career and helped give him a permanent standing among Europe’s major artists.

Since the sketch is in Glasgow and the final painting is usually in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, this is a rare opportunity to see them side by side. The exhibition also examines Rembrandt’s studio, his painting process, inspiration and the techniques he used.

Besides its art gallery, the Hunterian Museum has a large collection of art and artifacts from all periods – everything from dinosaur bones to 19th century medical equipment – and a new permanent exhibition on the Antonine Wall, which was briefly the northernmost border of the Roman Empire in Scotland.

“Rembrandt and the Passion” runs from September 15 to December 2.

In Oberammergau: the most “passionate” performance you will ever see

Now you can visit a plague-ridden era and watch history unfold. No, this is not an invitation to get busy with swine flu. Instead, head out to Oberammergau, Bavaria and witness a performance that has been carried out for centuries.

In 1633, Oberammergau’s population was decimated by the Plague. The villagers were brutalized, but their spirit remained strong, and they promised to act out the events of the last days of Jesus Christ, ending in the resurrection, every tenth year. This Passion performance, sans any influence from Mel Gibson, is an extremely local affair. If you weren’t born in the village or haven’t lived there for at least 20 years, the best you can do is watch with the masses. The stage is reserved for the true villagers.

Half the village is engaged to assist, from acting to playing music to creating costumes – in the case of Oberammergau, that’s 2,500 people out of a 5,200-person population. In what seems like a scene from The Greek Passion by Nikos Kazantzakis (who is more famous for his other book, The Last Temptation of Christ), lead roles are sketched out on a chalk board, while all of Oberammergau waits anxiously. The parts are assigned the year before. In the run-up to the performance, the cast grows its hair long and cultivates beards (not the women, of course), as wigs are not permitted.

While you’re in the village, ask around to see if the actors assume the characteristics of their assignments, as they did in the book by Kazantzakis. In the novel, the poor guy assigned to play Judas couldn’t get anyone to hang out with him. But, he took the part for a good cause.

From May 15, 2010 to October 3, 2010, the forty-first Oberammergau Passion will be performed 102 times, with each showing lasting around five hours. It runs from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM to 10:30 PM, with the time in between reserved for dinner. Though the symphony-sized orchestra is protected from the elements, the actors are exposed to the whims of the seasons, much like the figures they depict.

If you’re interested in experiencing this rare event, catch a flight to Munich, and drive the 55 miles to Oberammergau. Packages are available in town for one or two nights. Without a doubt, this is a unique performance, and any travel or theater junkie should absolutely experience it at least once. You could put it off a decade … but why wait?

Here’s a bit from ol’ Mel, in case you need a refresher:

Ventriloquist museum and convention pays tribute to dummies

There’s a museum in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky that is a reminder that if you have a passion about something, collect it. If the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence isn’t proof enough, check out the Vent Haven Museum. Across the Ohio River from Cincinnati is collection of ventriloquist dolls that says if you have hundreds of a particular item, people will come. I found out about the museum in this New York Times article.

As a person who heads to northern Kentucky often, the museum is now on my places to see list. Someone in my mother’s family had a Charlie McCarthy doll that looked similar to the real deal that Edgar Bergen used in his act. The museum pays tribute to Bergen and has Charlie McCarthy as part of the collection.

The collection also pays tribute to creativity and kitsch. Click through the museum’s Featured Figures page on the Web site for a look-see into the breadth of the collection. To visit the museum, contact the curator, Lisa Sweasy. Click here for appointment information. As a note, the museum is only open from May 1 until September 30.

If you’re interested in picking up some ventriloquist tips yourself, head to the Vent Haven ConVENTion July 15-19. Professional and amateurs come here every year to develop skills and share know-how.

Also, Roadside America has a wonderful write up that recounts a visit. One of these days, I’ll have my own version. The lovely photo is of Jerry Mahoney, another dummy great.

Volvo: Best for Passion

I don’t really know why research like this is conducted, but nonetheless I am pleased to announce what soccer moms nationwide have probably known for years: Volvo Estate is the best car to have sex in. Apparently, the ‘passion wagon’ has lived through more back seat action than any other vehicle. Boxy, safe and “convenient for the family.” Who knew?

TOP 10 ‘PASSION WAGONS’, as voted in the UK:

1. Volvo Estate

2. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van

3. VW Camper Van

4. BMW 3 Series Saloon

5. Ford Escort

6. Audi TT

7. Land Rover Discovery

8. Porsche Carrera

9. VW Golf

10. Ford Focus

While we blogged about Russian drivers admitting to regularly having sex while driving, this poll revealed that 68 percent of Brits admitted to having sex in the car, 10 percent while driving. Man, gotta watch for those soccer ( or is it “football”) moms.