I love that Hong Kong airport has little bilingual exhibition displays between some of the gates that highlight history and culture of Hong Kong. This one was about the cheongsam, ‘Hong Kong Cheongsam Story‘, curated by the Hong Kong Museum of History and Hong Kong Arts Centre.
Visited: 7 February 2018
Intro text to ‘Hong Kong Cheongsam Story’. I don’t have a problem with the duplication of messages within an exhibition. Visitors dip in and out of the text in exhibition. This little exhibition took this a little far. We got similar, sometimes word for word, information in intro, timeline and cabinet labels.
Aside from the large poster (which is 1920s-30s), the others are examples of the cheongsam in 1960s Hong Kong advertising.
Ever versatile, the cheongsam in vibrant orange with beehive hairdo. Paula Tsui on the cover of her album ‘New version of Peach Blossom River’, 1970s
Cheongsam barbie! The ultimate east-west crossover.
And here’s barbie in a more contemporary print cheongsam.
Not exactly sure what they are getting at here.
I love these knot buttons. Such variety and detail.
Somewhere in these devilish measurements is the reason why dressmakers can’t make a cheongsam the fits me
It was with some trepidation that I braced myself for this visit. I had heard the building and museum were impressive but a museum addressing the Holocaust (Shoah) is never going to be easy, nor should it be.
The Holocaust History Museum is only one part of the enormous Yad Vashem complex which is a large tract of land which contains a number of large memorials to various aspects of the Holocaust as well as an education and research centres and an astoundingly poor cafe. I spent my time in the Museum and temporary exhibition spaces.
There was something about all the memorials at Yad Vashem that made me feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure if it was the overt notices about who had donated money to them or something which gave them political overtones and made them feel way too nationalistic. The fact that there were so many also somehow diminished them all. Something odd about that expectation that you would walk around and summon an appropriate feeling for each one. But on the other hand can one memorial satisfactorily do justice to the horror and mind-bending scope of the Holocaust?
The overall experience of the museum was overwhelming as you would expect. There really was way too much information to even hope to take in. Lots of text, lots of images but also lots of video including interviews with survivors. This created the situation where you skipped over bits which made you feel uncomfortable as visitor.
It was also very strange to be in the section about the death camps surrounded by Israeli teenagers, restless after being guided through the many earlier galleries. I wondered how many times these kids had already been taught about the holocaust.
In the end it was the ‘Hall of Names‘ which was the most powerful part of the museum. A large darkened room with an enormous inverted cone lined with names and faces of those killed. When you look down you see a reflective ‘pool’. Surrounding all this are archive boxes with further names of victims of the Holocaust. There certainly does seem to be an evolving ‘type’ for these kinds of museums. Parts were certainly reminiscent of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, China.
It was very interesting to subsequently read some of the research my friend Deborah Staines had written on the topic which highlights some of the issues faced in museums dedicated to the Holocaust.
- Staines, D. (2002), ‘Auschwitz and the camera‘, Mortality,7(1), 13-32.
- Staines, D. R. (2001), ‘Museum Auschwitz‘, Space and culture : archival spaces, 1(10), 63-90.
Visited: 5 February 2018
Looking down the barrel View along central corridor of the museum. Galleries come off the corridor which you cross cross as you make you way through exhibition.
Recreated room A space with displays showing the integrated life of Jews in Germany set up like a lounge room.
Display of valuables stolen from Jewish homes and synagogues Silverware but also stain glass windows were stolen. This display of them sorted in boxes but jumbled together was very striking and really hit home what had been lost in both spiritual and financial terms.
Mass produced ‘Jewish stars’ There were several versions of these ‘Jewish stars’ on display. Such a powerful symbol.
Handmade monopoly game using places in the Terezin ghetto There were a couple of other board games at Yad Va’Shem aside from this one. There was also a board game that involved collecting Jews and expelling them. It made me think of the 1914 ‘White Australia Game’ held by the National Archives of Australia (NAA: A1336, 3368). Board games used to normalise the political.
Walking towards a sunny view? While there were plenty of spaces to sit and reflect at the end of the exhibition, I was surprised that there were no warnings for visitors entering the exhibition about its content and imagery. There also didn’t seem to be any information offering people who might struggle with the content any support.
‘Flashes of Memory: Photography during the Holocaust’ I was less annoyed that I wasn’t allowed to take photographs in this exhibition than the fact that there was no sign saying that I couldn’t. Instead a grumpy guard grouches at me about it. The exhibition itself was disappointing as well – too much content, not enough interesting interpretation and an odd layout which was trying to get visitors to take a strange looping path through the exhibition. Started with an unnecessary long and detailed ‘history of photography’ timeline.
Fascinating exhibition, ‘Forbidden Museum: X-ray Audio in the USSR, 1946-1964‘, about the use of x-ray film for Russian gramophone record bootlegging. The mock bootlegger’s office was one of the best ‘let’s recreate a lived space’ that I’ve seen. You really did feel that the bootlegger had just stepped out. It was unfortunate that they then had to have a guard permanently posted there to tell you not to step too far in.
A rather odd addition to the exhibition was two rooms showing short documentaries about censorship of music in other contexts. This included a heartbreaking one about the persecution of musicians under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Visited: 1 February 2018
Entrance to ‘Forbidden Music’
Gramophone record made from used x-ray film. There was another of a skull but most were just random x-rays.
Mock up of a bootleggers office. As well as the main door where I took this photograph there was also a little peep hole where you could look into the room which was pretty cute.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art. This was part of the enormous modern addition to the original building which had its own entrance. It was spectacular but design did make it pretty confusing trying to navigate the building inside. Every gallery was also named after whoever donated the money to build it. This was extended to corridors as well! I struck this pretty much everywhere in Israel. If you gave money your name was up on the wall.
The Opticana Museum is located in an area called Sarona in central Tel Aviv which is a recently restored former German Templer colony. Unfortunately the museum about the site was closed by the time I got there but cunningly tucked into a shop selling spectacles was the Opticana Museum.
I’m increasing a fan of the small well made display and this one was a cracker. It was clear the curator had a lot of fun with this, particularly hunting out artwork with people wearing spectacles. It was also a fabulous collection of glasses.
Visited: 1 February 2018
For vision correction and protection against the sun.
Each arm of this fan contains a magnifying glass. Perfect for spying on people at the opera.
There was such a fabulous range of very cool glasses.
Protection against the snow!
The Eretz Israel Museum was badly in need of an update but there were some truly beautiful pieces in the glass gallery.
Visited: 1 February 2018
The Eretz Museum was established on the site of an archaeological dig. So as you wonder from pavilion to pavilion you stumble on parts of the dig. This isn’t one of them! This is a blacksmith’s workshop from the 14th century CE found near Eilat and moved to the museum in 1971.
Very fine enamel painting of a fly in the bottom of a glass. The English language caption didn’t mention it at all! Attributed to Anton Kothgasser (1769-1851), Vienna, Austria, 1812-1830.
There were some beautiful contemporary works in the glass gallery as well.
Islamic glass game piece of a pigeon from the 12th to 15th centuries. Super tiny (as big as a thumbnail) and super cute.
Beautiful suit of armour made completely of glass. Not designed for use! The work of Israeli artist Boris Shpeizman from a series titled ‘The Sacred Band’, 2015. It is a comment on the stereotypical gender roles through the blending of feminine aesthetics with a male theme.
I love a beautiful tile mosaic. ‘The Bird Mosaic’ discovered in Bet Guvrin (Eleutheropolis) in 1921, believed to date back to the Byzantine (6th century CE).
I was surprised at how surprised I was by seeing this. This museum was found in 1958 and some of the displays looked like they hadn’t been updated since then. I like to think we have moved beyond this kind of language in museums now.