Big City Tales

You Can’t Miss Seeing The Rooms in St. John’s

July 10, 2018
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Boasting a distinctive ‘fishing room’ exterior design and prime hill-top location on Bonaventure Avenue, it’s easy to spot The Rooms from most vantage points around St. John’s. The building’s creative architecture certainly caught my attention, but it was the interior treasures that really hooked me. The most compelling reason why you can’t miss seeing The Rooms is that the exhibits truly celebrate the unique culture, history and geography of Newfoundland and Labrador. Also, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, the view of the city skyline and harbour is pretty spectacular!

The Rooms with a View

Even though St. John’s is one of the foggiest major centres in Canada, the spring and summer months are typically quite pleasant with plenty of clear days to peer out of The Rooms’ floor to ceiling windows and admire the view in the city streets and harbour below and further beyond The Narrows channel toward the ocean.

From colourful Jelly Bean row houses, to massive transport ships docked and waiting to be loaded/unloaded, to Cabot Tower atop Signal Hill and the Irving Oil Marine Terminal and fuelling berth located on Pier 23 and Pier 24 there is bound to be something eye-catching and photo-worthy.

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The Luck o’ Irish Roots

Back to the myriad treasures inside of The Rooms, one of the permanent exhibits is Talamh an Éisc: The Fishing Ground. This exhibit explores the province’s Irish roots going back to the late 1600s when intrepid migrants ventured across the Atlantic to participate in the burgeoning fishing trade, build onshore communities and settle into a new life away from the British Isles.

Fertile and Fickle Fishing Ground

After 500 years of reaping the rewards of one of the world’s most fertile fishing grounds, the luck o’ the Irish sadly ran out in the early 1990s when a moratorium was issued on the Northern Cod fishery. The government action was necessitated due to over-fishing in the region during the preceding 40 years that resulted in the drastic decrease of the Northern Cod species to the point of being on the verge of extinction. At present, the cod population is slowly making a recovery and limited fishing is taking place according to carefully established quotas. Hopefully continual monitoring efforts and regulation enforcement will ensure the survival of the species and industry.

Newfoundland and Labrador from A to Z

One of the special exhibits at The Rooms when I visited in 2017 was a series of hanging panels that described characteristics of Newfoundland and Labrador using each letter of the alphabet. Talk about a great way to learn about this highly distinctive region…I would add that A is also for Amazing and Awesome people!

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The Kitschy Kitchen Party

As highlighted in the A to Z panels, the Kitchen Party is a longtime tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador that typically takes the form of a raucous Saturday night gathering complete with food, music, dance, and plenty of fun. Along with family and friends, other special guests may include local “mummers” who come dressed in disguise looking to take a swig, dance a jig and continue on to their next merry party-crashing gig. Impromptu jam sessions are a common occurrence with musicians taking turns at solos or joining together in festive song. No instrument? No problem! Grab a pot and a wooden spoon, find the beat and play the night away.

The Rooms 4

World War I Commemoration

During World War I, members of the Newfoundland Regiment bravely ventured across the Atlantic Ocean to join forces with the British Army. After being trained in England and Scotland, troops were deployed to battle fields in Gallipoli, Egypt and along the Western Front. The regiment sustained heavy losses between 1915 and 1918 but many survived to tell their harrowing stories, which are encapsulated in the Beaumont-Hamel and The Trail of the Caribou exhibit. Highlights of the exhibit include the Flower of Remembrance and Victoria Cross displays, as well as the numerous black and white images of young recruits preparing to do their part and serve their country in the Great War.

A Provincial Showcase

No doubt about it, The Rooms shows off the very best of Newfoundland and Labrador and it’s crystal clear how and why the earliest inhabitants and subsequent settlers came to make lasting connections with this special place. When in St. John’s, The Rooms really is a must-see!

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Feel the LOVE for the Philadelphia Museum of Art

May 15, 2018
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Sitting high on a hill at the end of the beautiful Champs Elysees-inspired Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it’s easy to feel the love for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

With its Greek temple facade and iconic 72 stone steps made famous by Sylvester Stallone during the filming of the first Rocky movie, the building’s design elements and physical surroundings are glorious and set the stage for the glories that lie within. (Note: The view of downtown is pretty spectacular from the museum’s East Entrance, which  overlooks the parkway as well as Eakins Oval, a traffic circle where the Washington Monument and its fountains are located.)

Philadelphia Museum of Art 4

After sufficiently admiring the city skyline and greenery of the parkway, head inside for more jaw-dropping beauty.

The museum’s collection includes Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh, Japanese Footbridge by Claude Monet, and several other notable Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings from the likes of Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and their contemporaries.

Sculptures, South Asian art, and cultural period rooms are other prime museum features along with modernist pieces by French artist Marcel Duchamp, and American historical works from the Shakers and Pennsylvania Germans.

Flying High Like Rocky and Feeling the Brotherly Love

Yes, after a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you’ll be flying high like Rocky and feeling Philly’s brotherly love. BTW, the Rocky statue is located at the base of the stone steps (known locally as the Rocky Steps) leading to the museum’s East Entrance, and the LOVE statue is found in John F. Kennedy Plaza near the starting point of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, so be sure to include these must-see Philly landmarks as part of your museum excursion.

 


Discover Western Canada & the World at Glenbow

May 7, 2018
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From the outside looking in, the unassuming facade of Glenbow Museum belies the treasures contained within it that eagerly await to be explored. Indeed, with a diverse array of permanent exhibits celebrating the likes of Aboriginal customs, the history-shaping contributions of pioneering Albertans, the beautiful landscape of the prairies and Rocky Mountain parks, and the religious artifacts of ancient Hindu and Buddhist cultures, visitors are guaranteed to discover Western Canada & the World at Glenbow.

Located along Stephen Avenue Mall in downtown Calgary, Alberta, close to the Olympic Plaza Cultural District, Glenbow boasts over a million historical and contemporary pieces in its extensive collection and prides itself on creating an immersive experience for patrons. Permanent exhibitions are supplemented with three special exhibitions each year, which typically feature works from international artists.

Gallery highlights include:

Niitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life

This gallery tells the story of the Nisitapii (Blackfoot-speaking people) and some of its prized artifacts come from the Siksika Nation, including a tipi and various items of clothing, footwear and ceremonial gear.

Mavericks

The province of Alberta was built on the backs of many adventurous and enterprising individuals, 48 of which are showcased in the Mavericks gallery. From ranchers to oil explorers to politicians and activists, Alberta’s most intriguing and influential people are duly honoured for their roles in cultivating the province’s unique heritage.

Picturing the Northwest

Whether it’s the grassy plains of the foothills, the rugged terrain of the mountains, or a bronco busting cowboy hard at work, images of life in western North America are captured in paintings and sculptures dating back to the 19th century.

Art of Asia

One of the most peaceful and powerful areas in the Glenbow is the Art of Asia gallery that contains numerous Hindu and Buddhist religious artifacts such as masks, paintings and sculptures in various mediums (stone, wood and metals).