From Ancient Greece to Tim Burton

When the weather turns cold I tend to want to spend more time inside. But at the same time I want to get out of the house because I don't like being cooped up. This time of year the last place I want to go is anywhere near a mall, as they're going to be insanely crowded so my favorite movie theater is out. The perfect solution is to head to a museum and enjoy whatever new exhibits are in town. I happen to live near Baltimore, which also puts me in easy reach of Washington DC and its fabulous museums as well as a quick bus ride away from New York, home of enough art to show you something new every day of your life.

New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has some interesting exhibits right now, including Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868, which is open until January 10, 2010. We've all seen European suits of armor, even if only in old cartoons where they walk about and clonk people on the heads, but not all of us have seen Samurai armor, which is amazing, beautiful and generally more angular than European armor, which tends to be more rounded. The items in this exhibit are quite old, one piece dating back to the sixth century, but are surprisingly fragile and can only tolerate the light of the exhibit hall for a short time. Therefore some items will be on display through the beginning of December and then will be replaced by similar items. If you're longing to see a particular piece, like this fantastic Dō-Maru Gusoku Armor with Black Lacing and Three-Branched Deerhorn Helmet, be sure to check the dates it is on exhibit. You can see some samples of what's in the show as well as download a complete exhibit checklist in PDF format here:

Next we jump from the past to the present, specifically the Museum of Modern Art where we have many fantastic exhibits, with this one particularly catching my eye. It is a Tim Burton exhibit which is accompanied by two film exhibitions, Tim Burton and Tim Burton and the Lurid Beauty of Monsters. I love this drawing called The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories. There are more than seven hundred pieces in this exhibit, including puppets, concept art, paintings, photographs, costumes and much more from a variety of Mr. Burton's films including Edward Scissorshands, Beetlejuice and other projects that aren't quite so high profile. This show runs until April 26, 2010.

At the Guggenheim is a fantastic Kandinsky exhibit. I'm new to this artist's work but I fell in love with as soon as I saw some examples. The bright colors and bold patterns make me feel deeply happy and supercharged. I would go to New York just to see these paintings, even if I had to go home again on the same day. Don’t fret if you can't make the journey because you can look at an online exhibit. The themes are horse and rider, apocalypse, landscape, music, geometry and scientific imagery, inspired by the artist's study of biological images he collected while teaching at the Bauhaus. The show runs until January 13, 2010.

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is one of my favorite museums. It has beautiful pieces, especially in the antiquities wing (may not be the actual name, that's what my kids and I called it when they were growing up) where you can see those gorgeous red clay pots with the stylized images, armor from Ancient Greece and Rome, tiny figures from Japan and mummies from Egypt, including a mummified cat. For the next year or so there's an exhibit at the Walters called Mummified that lets you have a peek inside the mummy.

In the spring of last year the University of Maryland and the Walters teamed up to scan the mummy using computerized tomography. The scan was designed to learn more about the mummy, its wrappings, cause of death and other interesting facts. The exhibition, which runs Wednesday through Sunday until November 08, 2010, allows visitors to examine the science of the mummy via computer terminals. The show also has around twenty ancient objects from Egypt that depict the art of mummification, of both people and animals. Part of the exhibit will explore the popularity of mummies through the last few hundred years. You can learn more here:

When you finish with the mummies you might want to catch the Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece show, which runs until January 3rd. Focusing on the trope of the hero, why we need them and how someone becomes a hero, the exhibit has more than 100 objects gathered from all over. There are four sections all centered around one particular hero; Herakles, who was a hero and a god, Odysseus, who made an epic journey that Homer wrote about, Achilles, famous for his fighting and his one weakness, and Helen, who was beautiful enough for two city-states to go to war over her. (You may know Herakles better by his Roman name, Hercules.) Even if you're not a big fan of Greek myth the pieces in this exhibit are worth seeing because of their age, beauty and general awesomeness.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Luke who writes in to say, "Skype is a very good communication system, it allows people to have an easy way to stay in contact with each other, it is simple and effective, and good for hands free communication with a mic." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at