‘Hong Kong Cheongsam Story’, Hong Kong Airport


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


Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem, Israel


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.

Visited: 5 February 2018




‘Forbidden Music’, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel


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

Opticana Museum, Sarona, Tel Aviv


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

Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv


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