Travels in Europe: Day Three Cologne museums

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
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August 10th

International food stats:

Breakfast – german bread, cheese and pastries.

Lunch – Lebannese deliciousness including sticky honey filled pastries.

Dinner – Japanese sushi, miso soup and matcha green tea ice cream.

I am a little bit like a zombie today. In hindsight I think there was a bit too much walking yesterday. The Gee family motto for city break is “If you aren’t ready to collapse in a heap with your legs turned to jelly after one day you are doing this wrong,” so I feel I have done my family proud. As the weather has turned it seems the best possible solution is… MUSEUMS!

Attempt number einThe Fragrance Museum. Thwarted by missing the tram and turning up 5 minutes too late for the English language tour. However, the lady who works in the shop gives us a brief history of Farina, the Italian dude who invented Eau de Cologne. My friend and I get a tester of the fragrance on our right wrists and it’s actually still quite a pleasant smell after all this time. The error we make is trying out a tester on our own of the new star sign related scents . This splashes all over our left wrists and down most of our arms. We pretty much stink for the rest of the day and no amount of washing removes the scent. [ By the end of the day I decide I actually like the scent and am going to buy the Pisces perfume tomorrow.]

Attempt number zwei Wallraf-Richartz Museum. Mainly ecclesiastical art as the impressionist gallery is closed for a new exhibition. My newly acquired biblical knowledge from the York Mystery Plays really comes in handy;I am especially happy to be able to now identify the harrowing of hell in the pieces which show Christ’s life. My friend and I spend a lot of time amusing ourselves by making up captions for the paintings. In one God appears in bubbles watching Job and his family as if God were part of a cosmic CCTV system. In another Jesus talks to his Dad on what seems to be a prototype for Skype in the clouds while judas plots in the front of the painting.

And then there are the mini images of the donors of the paintings, knelt piously, totally incongruous to the usually emotionally charged scenes. In one, the female saint looks like she’s going “Psst, Psst, don’t look now, but tell me who is that tiny person kneeling there?” to another saint. In another Mary’s looking down at the huge family of donors at the bottom of a crucifixion scene as if to say, “I don’t remember all these people here.” [In the evening, my friend and I are in fits of laughter, over these online examples of the same irreverent art jokes: Two Monks Invent Medieval Art

Upstairs in the Baroque section my friend and I are surprised to find gigantic modern photos. This is part of a project, Rubens, Du un Ich, to reproduce the image found in a Rubens with young people. A photo booth is set up so visitors can take a picture for the blog which accompanies this project. So, you know, we have to, all for the sake of art and all.

Attempt number drei – Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum. After lunch we hurry through the rain to the anthropology museum. This is a very modern, interactive museum which tries to show how displays in museums are constructing stories which may not be very accurate, that there are always multiple narratives to tell and that what to us may be an object of art, to the original owners was a functional tool. It also conveys a good sense of the wonder that the first collectors felt as they travelled around the globe.

Another packed day… tomorrow it is time for some last minute shopping and then the long journey back to York.

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