The Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava, was added to the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2001. It sits right on Lake Michigan and has a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that opens and closes twice daily. The museum collection includes 25,000 works from antiquity to the present covering a wide range of art.
This was a lazy weekend where the weather cooled off and rain moved in. We meandered around one of my all time favorite art museums, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It is a grand building with pillars and domes and little gardens. At its center is Mercury, the patron god of travelers, the winged messenger.
And just for fun …..
In 1973 I went to boarding school in Switzerland, my parents had moved to Nigeria and the school options were limited. A friend of mine from grade school days was living in Paris so when our first long weekend break came up I headed to Paris. It was my first trip to Paris. It was November and snowed lightly the whole time I was there. My friend was in school and her mother insisted I take a bus tour of the city to get an overview. After that I was on my own. I was 16. There were two things I wanted to see, one was Notre Dame and the other was the Louvre. I found Notre Dame with no problem. I walked in to an empty building. It was dark and took me a while to get my eyes used to it. It was quite and peaceful. I made my way down towards the apse and as I reached it, light flooded in. I looked up and saw the most beautiful rosette stained glass windows I had ever seen. I sat down and meditated on them.
From there I headed to the Louvre. It took me a while to find it and the entrance didn’t seem to be very clearly marked but I did manage to buy a ticket and start my tour. I didn’t have much time so I decided to just see three things and then leave. I found the Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo right away but I could not find the Mona Lisa. I walked up and down an entire wing of paintings. I saw painters set up with their easels copying the famous artworks, something I had never seen before in a museum. Lots of great art, but no Mona Lisa. I wandered into a room that was full of old jewelry. No Mona Lisa there. I was just about to give up and leave when I happened upon a small room off to the side that had a lot of paintings all hung up together on one of the walls. I was looking at these various, random paintings when right in the middle of them, the Mona Lisa jumped out at me. I couldn’t believe it. I stood there transfixed.
It was a magical day. I have been back to Paris many times but Notre Dame has always been very crowded and stifling. The Louvre now has a grand entrance and signs all over the place directing you to the Mona Lisa which has such a big protective case that you can barely see it. I was very lucky.