Photo Credit: Ciara Darren
Location: Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan
Photo Credit: Ciara Darren
Location: Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan
Museums throw open the doors to the past, the future, and the facts and opinions we might never otherwise come in contact with. Recently, Knyght and I visit The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. We meant to stay just a few hours and actually were there for over six hours, even though it was our third visit. In honor of the occasion and the cold nature of February in the north, I’ve compiled ten of my favorite museums in the world.
This list will change as I continue traveling but here it is as it stands now. I’ve enjoyed all but three of these places multiple times. Sanxingdui would be on the multiple list, but it’s too far from my regular travels. So, in no particular order, here they are.
The exhibits change frequently and the standard exhibits are amazing. Sue the T-rex and multiple other actual fossils reside here. You can literally walk until your Fit-bit is happy and your feet want to fall off and still find new things to entrance you. They’ve built the preserved remains of an Egyptian mummy burial chamber into the the museums structure, so you can literally descend inside of it, as you would where it was originally placed.
There’s really no words to sum this place up, other than I could keep going back again and again to this place. There is one hall that houses an entire ancient Egyptian temple with reflection pools completing it. The Napoleon wars have left scribblings on the walls, along with the original inscriptions. And halls extend on forevver. If there’s something you’re interested in, from ancient instruments and original pianofortes to impressionists, you can find it here, in abundance. Be prepared to get lost.
This is another large museum of brilliant pieces. Walking through this place is like flipping through an art history textbook at school but much better. The range is entertaining, from historical satirical comics to Rembrandt’s “Old Man with a Gold Chain”, it’s here on display. Knyght and I wish there was more Middle Eastern and Arabian culture artifacts, as what they had was beautiful but limited. There’s a definite European and U.S.A. focus on the collections. That seems par for the course for U.S. museums, however. The African selection was several sizes larger than the Arabian and quite interesting.
This is not the largest museum but it is so earnest and the pieces are fascinating. They have works from all over Eastern and Southeast Asia, as well as India. I’ve gone back several times, even after living in Asia. You can easily spend several hours here and leave quite satisfied. It also grants one a beautiful view of the Puget Sound and the coastline of Seattle.
The Yasukuni Shrine in the same complex as this museum is a lighting rod of international political tension. One does not have to visit the shrine however, to visit the museum. One can easily walk past the religious sector, past a Kabuki stage and approach the modern looking glass doors above.
I consider this museum as part of a set in my particular experience. I’ve visited museums in four different countries covering the first half of the 20th century and each country, namely the U.S., China, South Korea, and Japan. Each tells a different story. I enjoyed the Japanese memory as a compliment to the other three version of the three events. The truth, I’m certain, falls somewhere between the political narratives. The museum is tasteful and less in your face than the military museum in Beijing. Anyone with the ability to even mildly display their own personal viewpoint can definitely enjoy this reserve of artifacts and timelines. Some of the historical period pieces like the samurai warrior regalia is downright amazing and gorgeous.
This is my favorite museum in China. Unfortunately, I was rushed through it as part of a tour. I’d love to go back but alas, it’s all the way in Chengdu. This museum though, underscores for me, the hypocrisy of the current political narrative coming from Beijing of a cohesive Chinese empire stretching back 5,000 years and though, not directly stated, claiming sovereignty over the entire current land mass of China today. Chinese culture is ancient, but it’s also much more diverse than often given credit in the political narrative. Museums, are inherently statements of identity and politics and this one tries to walk the political line less than others, at least when I visited it.
This museum is based on the artifacts of a fairly recent discovering in Sichuan of a culture radically different from people in China today. The culture is Bronze Age and has been linked to the Shu dynasty – the Shu dynasty ended around 316 B.C.E. – in Chinese historical records in part because of the protruding eye motifs found in many of the figurines at the dig. It is very different, just based on the objects, from any other museum I visited in this country.
Like the museums in Japan and China above, this museum is all about identity and political narrative, starting with it’s name, The National Museum of Korea, instead of the national museum of South Korea. Inside, the placards are in several languages, including English. The political statements are very strong and the pride of Korean heritage as a separate and distinct even in the world history is very apparent but the displays are so educational and creative, that I very much enjoyed my dose of politics with my history. Probably the funniest moment was when I visited the traveling Greek and Roman history display that was passing through and saw a clay pot depicting a nobleman about to enjoy his young slave in a carnal fashion. The English caption for the piece was quite blunt. It read, “Getting it in”. I was both horrified and laughing in my sleeve, because it was a Sunday and I was surrounded by at least a dozen kids and their parents who were visiting after church. Culture clash or class! There was a dash of humor like that in many places, at least in the English translations.
I haven’t been here in years but this site left a large impression on me and made the world feel much smaller. It’s in Sonoma County, in California, on the coast. Originally, it was a trading post set up by Russians who came down from Russian colonies in Alaska. I didn’t know before I visited this place that the Russians made an early grab attempt on California! Sometimes, Americans seem to feel that we were predestined to spread from sea to sea, but the honest truth of history is we were fortunate and there were many other’s in the running. There was plenty to see and run around inside of, imagining we were over a hundred years in the past. Great for kids or getting out.
The first airplane in the world is here. Need I say more? Ok, one more hint: go on January 1st. My brother and I got here when it opened on the first day of the year and the place was empty. We were the only ones in the place for at least thirty minutes and had most displays to ourselves for the day. It’s simply amazing and a monument to human ingenuity, not just American’s but others around the world who have contributed to flight.
This place is simply huge and amazing. The gem collection is likely as close as I will ever come to enjoying some of those beautiful pieces of stones. The crystals were simply stunning and beautifully set out. And the food is good. Out of all the Smithsonian museums, I think this place was the best for grabbing decent provender and taking a seat when your feet protest too much.
Please tell me what your favorite museums are and trade advice in the comments below! If you want more details on any of this, just ask. I love talking about travel and history and international politics, just keep it clean and respectful.
Image credits: all photos in this post came from https://en.wikipedia.org.
The wait is over. Do you want to read about backs against the wall, questions of loyalty, passion, love, identity? Terms of Denouncement, the third episode of the TERMS series is now alive and kicking like a newborn on Amazon. The story however, is not newborn. This one tried to tear out my heart, made my editors cuss and would most definitely have gotten me burned at the stake in certain time periods or in certain places. And it’s the book I’ve been waiting to write every since the first one in the series. My cover artist literally doused things in kerosene and he’s hoping the next cover will be as exciting.
This is the story where Jarvis starts to take off the gloves, Telos proves to everyone what he is really made of and Lazarous steps out into the light and reminds us that he IS a dragon.
For those of you who enjoy my books, have fun, go read! And for those who follow this blog for things other than books, like life, all I can say is, three months, three books published. Goal achieved and coffee abused. Liberally. Cheers!
As promised, the next book out will be Pegasus King, slated for March. Again, cover artist, model and I have to work out details. The fourth book in the TERMS series is scheduled for August of this year.
As for now, I have a a warm blooded, very real, very present man who requires some conversation from me when I’m not talking about other men, creatures, queens, or evil villains. And he deserves it. So I shall take my leave, for tonight and see everyone again tomorrow.
There has been a lot messages and email lately, asking about Pegasus King. Honestly, I’ve been surprised and very humbled by all of it. I had no idea that so many people were still interested after all this time in Kaden, Andros, and Hilel. My muse has sat up and taken note.
Pegasus King has not been abandoned. There was some extenuating circumstances and I had difficulty writing for a long time, namely for the time period I disappeared behind the Chinese Firewall. Pegasus King, the first part, was written while I was in Japan. The rough draft came out in 33 days while I was barely walking after getting injured. Afterwards, I simply was not able to match the intensity I felt was needed to do justice to the story. I picked up writing Terms because at the time, it was a shorter, smaller story that I could write in my off hours and squirreled away moments in the middle of the night. Obviously, I should stop fooling myself about writing anything short and sweet. Terms has blossomed far beyond my original plans and created its own set of wonderful problems for my muse and me.
Back to Pegasus. This is the plan. Pegasus King is being published professionally, or republished for those who have already it when is was being posted weekly. The tentative date is for late March or early April. My cover artist and I are working out when he can meet with my model for the cover photography. I have been passing chapters to my editor for a professional edit since last year. Meanwhile, starting February, I will be finishing the second book. The working title is Pegasus Reign and it will pick up exactly where Pegasus King stopped. It’s unlikely that I will be able to finish, edit, and publish Pegasus Reign before mid-May, although I’d like to. These books are significantly longer than the episodes in the TERMS series.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a song that I’ve been using to inspire me lately. The visuals are from the BBC series Merlin. I love the show Merlin so much. Even when the only way to watch it was in three minutes segments on Youtube, I still managed to get through three seasons. Seasons 4 and up are still on my watch list for when I’ve finished Supernatural. (All TV watching has gone on hold until TERMS Episode II is published.) I’ve had to keep myself away from the fanfiction, because this series is begging for it. The song is “Mercy” by Hurts. I think there’s probably a passage in everything that my muse offers up that could use this song as its theme.
Can you tell? So, with a week to go to the end of January, we have this gorgeous cover for Episode 3 – Terms of Denouncement.
I could not be more thrilled. Baring “Acts of Nature” – I’m just superstitious enough with the weather lately to cross my fingers and listen to my Irish side for a moment – Terms of Denouncement will be up for purchase on Amazon on January 30th or 31st, depending on where you fall around the dateline. Unlike Telos and Jarvis, I DON’T have a dragon on my side!
More than a year ago, I wrote a post “Modern Myths: The Active Audience, Imagination, and Why I Love Fanvids”. There, I explained a bit about why I enjoy watching fan made music videos and the art that goes into crafting them. One of my favorite fanvid editors of all time is Pteryx. I follow her via email updates and recently I saw this video below, pop up in my inbox.
Go ahead, watch. There aren’t any spoilers in it, as far as I could see, and I watched it several times.
This video really summed up my own 2015.
Here’s how Pteryx commented on it herself. “After all we’ve been through this year, whatever comes next I kinda feel ready for it. Okay, let’s be honest. No one expected this mash-up, even me. Fulfillment of this mission seemed to be impossible, but here it is. It was a long tough year for me without you, my friends. 2015 was a year of challenges and our future is predetermined by how we coped with them. So here are 3 themes of 2015: Future, Struggle, Home. We all fight for our future to finally get home.”
For me, this video, and many of the fantastical shows that provided clips for the piece, are literally, the explanation of our lives. We use myth to understand ourselves. We always have, as humanity, from the Chinese centering their palaces along the cosmic center lines reflecting their ideal of heaven, to the Norse legends of greed, family, and trickery. Sometimes, we have believed our legends and sometimes we haven’t. But we still use them to explain a world that so often, cannot be summed up in mere words.
We could use mere words. I could say, grief is not easily surmounted. How much of a visceral reaction do you feel?
Some? A little? A passing flinch?
But what if I wrote this?
“The fifth year I couldn’t search for you. The world was full of blood and death. I couldn’t hear your voice. It was lost, in the storms, in the burn of ash. Somewhere in hell, my gods all died….I drank to the cry of woman singing for the angels who fall first. I heard the screams of the unforgiven. My fate was clear as blood on snow by the time the voices on the speakers were screaming about passion and greed.
“Did I sing again?” Nigel whispered.
“In time,” Siddhartha answered. She drank from her glass. “I was in Germany… a man began to chant the Lord’s Prayer against a counterpoint of hypocrisy. Your voice whispered with his until it was all I heard. I heard the faith and the irony, the cries of the world against the faith of the man’s voice, against your voice. I bought the CD, just so I could break it. I threw the dusty pieces in the river but I couldn’t lose your voice in my head.”
– Excerpt from my short story Siddhartha
Now that is grief. And more. Perhaps a mixture of guilt or something else. It is left to the mind of the reader, reflecting back their own experience. Like when I watch the video above and see my own 2015 in the same captured evocation of Pteryx’s own year.
Show. Don’t tell. That goes for writing. For living. For building a relationships. Even, perhaps, for understanding ourselves.
Here is it, in another art form.