Russia's Hermitage opens a "wing" in Amsterdam
As you walk through the new Hermitage Amsterdam, you may feel a bit underdressed for the occasion.
Luckily nobody will be staring at you because the elaborate ceremonial court dresses and uniforms that engulf the room are all worn by mannequins. It's part of the opening exhibition "At the Russian Court: Palace and Protocol in the 19th-Century."
The current exhibit shows off extravagant artifacts from the lives of six tsars, from Paul I to Nicholas II. A few noteworthy items to check out: the famous Romanov throne, jewelry pieces by Fabergé, and the last tsarina's grand piano.
Open since June 20, the Hermitage Amsterdam has become the hottest attraction in the capital of the Netherlands. About 100,000 visitors have passed through it already.
[CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the original version had the incorrect opening date. We regret the mistake.]
The museum has a deal with the Russian government to produce exhibitions together with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, though it is not owned by Russia. It currently holds more than 1,800 objects on loan from Russia. It's housed in the Amstelhof building, which had previously been an elderly care facility for 324 years.
The museum gives visitors a glimpse of St. Petersburg and the surrounding countryside via paintings, watercolors, drawings, photographs, and films. One of the highlights is an astonishing 15-foot-long panorama of the city as seen from the Peter and Paul Fortress on the North bank of the River Neva.
During the current exhibition, you'll find mannequins dressed in magnificent uniforms and elegant dresses. Remarkably, even the colors of the dresses were governed by a strict protocol set by the tsar Nicholas I himself, a museum representative told Budget Travel.
Also check out the clever re-creation of a nineteenth-century ball, which includes revolving round display cases with music and projection images from the film "Russian Ark," shot in the Hermitage St. Petersburg.
The exhibit lasts until January 31, 2010. A tip: Weekdays are better for visiting to beat the crowds. Another tip: If you're more keen to see masterworks, it might be worth waiting to poke around the museum after March 6, 2010, when the "Origins of Modern Art. Braque, Matisse and Picasso" exhibit debuts.
Amstel 51, Amsterdam, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 pm, Wednesdays to 8 pm and closed on January 1 and December 25, 011-31-20 530 87 51, hermitage.nl, admission is €15 for adults. Anyone under 16 years of age gets in free.
Word to the wise: Admission is free if you have the I amsterdam Card, which also gets you free public transportation, admission to dozens of other museums and offers discounts on restaurants.
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This weekend: A stitch in time in Lincoln, Nebr.
Quilts were once left to gather cobwebs on guest beds in people's houses. But today they're increasingly the star attractions at many museums, vying for the spotlight with other objects. Quiltmaking is being recognized, at last, as an art in its own right. Today's shows, exhibits, and festivals that celebrate the best quiltmakers are part of a broader trend. The number of quilt-makers in the U.S. has doubled in the past decade, reports the Wall Street Journal. The reason? New tools make quilt-making easier than ever. With 3,000 quilts (forming the largest publicly held collection in the world), the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebr., has exhibits and educational workshops yearround. One such exhibit, "A Fairyland of Fabrics: The Victorian Crazy Quilt" is debuting this Friday. The special collection features 19 one-of-a-kind quilts from the Victorian era, the late 1800s and early 1900s. Lovingly called "Crazies," the quilts were made using irregular shapes and patterns with all sorts of different materials and textiles—things as varied as cigar ribbons, silk taffeta, and even shells. The resulting look is random, a clever deceit, as each quilt actually has a intricate design. In their time, the quilts were seen as the epitome of sophistication. In addition to the new exhibit, which runs through October 25, the museum also has a display of quilts from 1870 to 1940, or the "modern age." Quilts, like other art, often reflect the sentiments of the time, and the ones in this exhibit display blocky, rigid patterns and characteristics of the colonial style. The museum also hosts free guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m., including this Saturday. 33rd and Holdrege streets, Lincoln, Neb. Admission is $5; parking is free. Call 402/472-6549 or visit quiltstudy.org for more information.
Paris's best outdoor film festival: A guide
I firmly believe that Cinéma en Plein Air—one of the city's many free summer festivals—is one of Paris's Top 10 Free Events in July. I'm such a fan that I want to nudge twice and tell you how to make the most of this fun occasion. Step 1: Choose your film. More power to those who speak French. They'll have access to the full program. But don't worry if you don't! There are a number of excellent English-language films on offer, including: Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg) July 21 Into the Wild (Sean Penn) July 25 Scarecrow (Jerry Schatzberg) July 28 Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmush) July 31 Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee) August 1 Mulholland Drive (David Lynch) August 4 Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton) August 6 The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones) August 8 In this World (Michael Winterbottom) August 13 About Schmidt (Alexander Payne) August 14 Amistad (Steven Spielberg) August 15 Step 2: Assemble your basket. For many, these films are little more the pretext for a picnic. I like to pick up fruit and wine from the small shops on the rue Eugène Jumin (near the eastern entrance of the Parc de la Villette). There's also a good Monop' at the corner of this street and the avenue Jean Jaurès. You'll find rows of ice cold rosé, along with cheese, sandwiches, salads, chips, sweets, and other snacking essentials. For the truly lazy, there's a McDonald's just outside the park and a kiosk with snacks and drinks inside. Step 3: Strap on a strampontin. There's no admission fee to see the film, but you'll have to fork over €6.50 for the optional strampotin (lawn chair) and blanket. Save money by bringing your own blanket, but be warned that the temperature drops after sunset. Step 4: Plan your exit. Depending on the time of sundown (a bit after 10 p.m.) and the length of the film, some showings will last well past midnight. The Paris Métro stops running south from this point around 12:30 a.m. on weeknights (Friday/Saturday are an hour later). If your film runs later, you may be facing a long walk or a cab ride home. Those opting for a cab should leave the park a few minutes early if they hope to hail one before the hordes arrive. The Cinéma en Plein Air festival runs every night at sundown from July 15 to August 15 (Parc de la Villette, 211 avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th arrondissement). Entry is free.
Worth reading: The building formerly known as Sears Tower
A few of our favorite links from around the 'net this week. With name change, Sears Tower—and Chicago—is losing a sense of identity. [Chicago Tribune] Get inspired: 12 great summer vacation movies. [World Hum] Voluntouring like Angelina in Africa. [The Faster Times] 10 gadgets to make your road trip more enjoyable. [Gadling] Sneak peek: The World of Color water show at Disney's California Adventure, coming in 2010. [LA Times] Visit Harry Potter's favorite haunts in London. [Jaunted] Unesco's World Heritage list gets 13 more entries, including two natural sites. [The New York Times] For more travel blogs, go to Alltop.
Paris pizza buzz: Pink Flamingo
My love for this quirky outfit lies dormant during the cold months, then gushes anew when the weather is warm enough to eat outside. There is a dining room at the Pink Flamingo to serve you during the dark months, but the real draw is their delivery along the banks of the Canal Saint Martin. On summer evenings, both sides of this curving canal are lined with lively picnic parties. I used to bring my own basket, but haven't done that once since discovering "the Pink." And judging by the number of balloons that are dotting the banks these days, I'm not alone. So what's with the balloon? Well, they give you one in exchange for your order, then use it to locate your group for delivery. There's something very cheery about walking in the footsteps of Amélie with a helium balloon tied to your wrist. While devouring a pizza, stand next to the footbridge from which the heroine of Amélie skipped her stones. The Menu Kooky names and inventive combos are part of the program at the Pink. "La Basquiat" is topped with gorgonzola, fig, and cured ham from the Auvergne. "Le Che" features marinated Cuban pork and fried plantains. "La Dante" is surprisingly tame with fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella. Whatever the topping, you can be assured of a thin crust made with organic flour and sel de Guérande (fancy salt). The Bill Prices range from €10.50–16 ($14–22) and each pizza can easily feed two. Bottles of wine (with plastic cups for takeaway) range from about €13–20 ($18–25), but you could save money with a cheaper bottle from the Franprix grocery along the Canal (108 quai de Jemmapes). The Buzz The artists of IVY Paris have long been hosting their "hipnics" with Pink Flamingo pizza. French guide Le Fooding loves it, too, even though they think the name sounds like a strip parlor. Food blogger Adrian Moore is a fan of the "Ho Chi Ming" pizza (chicken, shrimp, coconut, lemongrass, and crushed peanuts) and the organic beer. And the cutesy My Little Paris site has even rendered the "flying pizzas" in watercolor. The Coordinates 67 rue Bichat, 10th arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-02-31-70, Métro Jacques Bonsergent. Closed Monday. A second Paris location has just opened in the Marais at 105, rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-71-28-20, Métro Saint-Sébastian-Froissart. Closed Monday. CLICKABLES Slimming down the lunch bill at Paris restaurants 10 top Paris food blogs Paris bistro buzz: Frenchie