a Thyssen never seen

When I heard that CaixaForum Barcelona is planning to open an exhibition displaying masterworks from the collection of Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid alongside those deposited in Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, I knew that’s something I better not miss. Having fresh memories of my visit to Museo Thyssen in Madrid, I sincerely hoped to see the highlights of their collection hanging on the walls of any color except for salmonish orange. Therefore, with a mix of excitation and anxiety, the very first day after the exhibition opened I headed for CaixaForum.

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entrance to the exhibition

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Andrzej Wajda | in memoriam

I was deeply, deeply saddened by the loss of Andrzej Wajda, one of the greatest film directors in the history of Polish cinematography. He passed away on Sunday afternoon, a few weeks after the premiere of his latest film Afterimage, telling the story of Władysław Strzemiński, famous Polish avant-garde painter and theoretician,  founder of the Museum of Art in Łódź. As people all around the world pay tribute to the memory of Andrzej Wajda, I’d like to add a few words myself. I hope that he will be remembered not only as a groundbreaking film director, but also as a founder of one of the most important cultural institutions in Poland: the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow.

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Andrzej Wajda at the opening of the exhibition of his sketchbooks,  Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow, March 2016, photo credits: Kamil A. Krajewski, source: click

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5 things that make a good exhibition

Have you ever wondered what are the key components of an exhibition? And how can we tell if a particular exhibition is actually a good one? My idea of what an exhibition consists of changed substantially when I began working as a Museum Assistant myself.  Up to then I would probably notice that a picture is crooked, the light reflects badly in a varnished surface of a painting, but not really more than that. Today I’d like to present you with my personal list of 5 things that make a good exhibition. Let’s begin, shall we?

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The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka, 2015-2016, Belvedere Museum Vienna; foto © Belvedere Museum Vienna via http://belvedere.at/

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it’s not just about exhibition | 5 unique museum neighbourhoods

I love the way in which a museum can change the character of a city, by creating a new cultural, social, and architectural context. Presence of a museum usually affects (or at least should affect) the whole neighbourhood, as it requires some additional services: a parking lot, some place to take a rest, some place to have a coffee or lunch. Today I’d like to show you 5 uniqe museum neighbourhoods. Ready? Let’s go!

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what I didn’t see in Krakow | Night of the Museums ’16 in Barcelona

Hello everyone! Museum Assistant is finally back from her cultural rehab (which lasted way too long, won’t you agree?). I spent two exceptionally busy weeks in Poland, with no slightest chance of finding a moment or two to try the current offer of museums and galleries in Krakow. It’s a shame, as for some time already May has been one of the most diverse and lively months of the cultural calendar in Krakow. There is a bunch of huge cultural festivals taking place in May, only to mention Krakow Photomonth Festival, Krakow Photo Fringe, Copernicus Festival, or Netia Off Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema. You really should pity me, guys, for I missed out on an awful lot of (presumably attractive) cultural events. Here are some of the exhibitions I DIDN’T SEE and events I DIDN’T PARTICIPATE IN while I was in Krakow:

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no photo, no proof | Museu del Disseny

Hi there! A few days ago I told you about my participation in a guided visit to the Centre de Documentació of Museu del Disseny de Barcelona on St. George’s Day. Today I woke up with a strange feeling that although it has not been a week since my last visit to the Museu del Disseny, I really should go there immediately. I didn’t need much time to realise that there is a very good reason behind it: I haven’t seen the temporary exhibition Distinction. A Century of Fashion Photography yet, and it’s on display only until tomorrow. So I packed my small bag, grabbed some coffee and croissant on my way to the metro station, and soon I arrived at Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes. Today there will be no talking. I would just like you to see a bit of what I saw. Enjoy.

PS. Please, take a closer look at the objects’ labels. They’re gorgeous.

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Diada de Sant Jordi: Disseny Hub Barcelona

Yesterday was my first Diada de Sant Jordi (cat. St. George’s Day), one of the greatest celebrations I’ve seen in Barcelona so far. Are you familiar with the legend of St. George? It features everything that comes to one’s mind when thinking of a proper medieval ballad: a dragon, a sword, a knight, and a princess. The story begins with a city of Silene, in which one bloodthirsty dragon delighted so much, that it decided to arrange its nest on the spring that provided water for the whole town. Every time the citizens wanted to collect water from the spring, they would offer the dragon a sheep, and if they were lacking one, there was only one substitute: a virgin maiden. As poor virgins were chosen by drawing lots, there was little to be done when the selected maiden happened to be the princess. Luckily enough, just as she was about to be presented to the dragon, Saint George appeared, and protecting himself with a sign of the cross, slaughtered the dragon with a sword, and freed the princess. It is believed that out of the dragon’s blood a beautiful scarlet rose bush bloomed. That’s why in many places (including Catalunya), the St. George’s day is known as the day of a book & a rose. Women are given red roses by their partners or friends, and in return, they are expected to give them books.

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Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló decorated for the Diada de Sant Jordi (photo: catalunyapress.com). Did you know that Gaudí’s work actually depicts the story of Saint George?

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museum assistant in Warsaw: kids in a museum | part one

I like Warsaw, I really do. It’s such a lively city! Some people (especially those born and raised in Cracow) consider it ugly, but I would never, ever say that. Everytime I hear someone complaining about the aesthetics of Warsaw, its architectonic chaos and eclecticism, I remind him what did this city came through during (and after) WW2. In 1945 it was an enormous pile of ashes, miserable and heart-breaking ruins of one of the most charming metropolises of central Europe. And however the great act of reconstructing the city began shortly after the end of the war, it turned out very quickly that many elegant modernist housing estates are to be replaced with architecture of socialist realism. Moreover, at the very heart of the city a huge edifice was erected, “a gift from the Soviet People to the Polish People”: the Palace of Culture and Science. The Soviet regime was defeated in 1989, but the way it affected the architecture of many Polish cities, including Warsaw, will remain for a long time, if not forever. That’s why I am always amazed how Warsaw is still able to impress, making a good use of its own eclecticism. It became famous for a huge diversity of restaurants, cafes, bookshops, galleries, and museums. It has probably the biggest number of institutions dedicated to contemporary art among other Polish cities, only to mention Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Centre For Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, or the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, with a superb bookshop called Bookoff.

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entrance to the exhibition “I read here. Contemporary Polish Illustration for Children”, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, fot. Marek Krzyżanek, CC-BY-SA

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Museum Week 2016 on Twitter

Last week I was spending most of my time online on Twitter, in order to catch up with one of the biggest international social media events dedicated to museums and culture — the #MuseumWeek2016. 7 days, 7 different themes, 7 hashtags, and thousands of participants from all around the world — museums, foundations, cultural centres, curators & museum professionals. The idea of encouraging museums to spend a whole week sharing their secrets and connecting with their followers was born two years ago in France. At first, the participants of #MuseumWeek were European institutions only, but as the event turned out to be a great success, the next edition became global.

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museum assistant: then & now

My way of thinking about museums has changed significantly since when I visited one for the first time. I was born in 1990, a year after political transformation in Poland, which made my country independent from the U.S.S.R., and began the long process of integration with other European countries. Late 90’s was a great time for Polish museums — the borders were finally open, and more and more exhibitions could be organised in a partnership with some of the most important European institutions. Polish curators, designers, and museologists could travel unhinderedly to search for good models and inspiration. I didn’t experience the time of Soviet oppression, but my family did. I watched their attitude carefully, and learned from them how to appreciate the possibilities that I had: the access to culture, the opportunity to travel, the possibility to study whatever and wherever I wanted.

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crowds inside the Natural History Museum in London

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