Category Archives: Museums

Warsaw from the viewing deck of the Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN)

There are few buildings in Warsaw, Poland that are more controversial than Pałac Kultury i Nauki (Palace of Culture and Science), also known as PKiN (pronounced Peh-keen).

As it’s a symbol of Soviet Union’s communist oppression of the country, some would like to see it demolished and gone from the landscape. Others say that even though it’s part of painful history, it’s history nevertheless and should not be touched.

Until recently, it was the tallest building in Warsaw, but it has been eclipsed by the Varso Tower, which is now not only the tallest building in Warsaw but also in all of Europe. 

“The Controversial Story of Stalin’s Palace in Warsaw” by Wojciech Oleksian published in offers a very thorough history of “Joseph Stalin’s idea of building a skyscraper over 200 metres (650 feet) tall in the middle of Warsaw’s post-war ruins” complete with photos from the early 1950s showing how out of place this gleaming white building looked like in the middle of bombed ruins of post-WWII Warsaw.

Continue reading Warsaw from the viewing deck of the Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN)

Soaking in Escher’s artwork

Visiting Escher in The Palace Museum

If you love M.C. Escher and find yourself in The Netherlands, not too far from The Hague, head over to the Escher in het Paleis, or Escher in The Palace museum!

The first time I’ve heard of M.C. Escher was in “Weird Al” Yankovic’s 2009 parody video “White and Nerdy” when Weird Al sings “MC Escher that’s my favorite MC.”  I had seen reproductions of Escher’s prints here and there before, but I didn’t know the artist’s name.

Weirdly enough, my nerdy son had already knew of M.C. Escher by then, and we spent a bit of time looking at Escher’s work online together.

M.C. Escher's litograph "Hand with reflecting sphere" (self-portrait)
M.C. Escher’s litograph “Hand with reflecting sphere” (self-portrait)

Continue reading Soaking in Escher’s artwork

German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin

Berlin’s German Resistance Memorial Center (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand) is a 13-minute walk from the nearest  subway and train station at Potsdamer Platz, but don’t let that discourage you from visiting. There are two other interesting museums nearby – Modern Art Museum (Neue Nationalgalerie) and the Gallery of Paintings (Gemäldegalerie), though you likely won’t be able to visit all three on the same day, since you should set aside at least three hours for the Resistance Center, more if you plan on being very thorough and read every single display and story about those who stood up to the regime of Nazi Germany.

If you think the museum looks like a nondescript office building from the outside, you are correct – it was built in the early 1900s for the Naval Office, and since 1933 it housed the General Army Office in the Army High Command.

It was in this building that Adolf Hitler announced to the leaders of the German Military (Reichswehr) that he would “conquer new living space (Lebensraum) in the East.”

This building was also the center of an attempted coup against Hitler on July 20, 1944, and a place of execution of the conspirators shortly thereafter. Continue reading German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin

#ThrowbackThursday: Our Travels (with Kids) 10 and 5 Years Ago

I’m lazy today and don’t want to write much 🙂 so I thought I’d share some of our photos from our travels ten and five years ago. Sometimes it’s really fun to go down the memory lane!

2006 February – Rabka, Poland

During February vacation in 2006 I took my son to Poland to spend some time with my parents. We went to Rabka, Poland, a small town popular with families because of its salt works (it’s a spa town).

My son had fun going sledding with my Dad:

Dziadek (Grandfather) and Wnuczek (grandson) having fun on the sled being pulled by the sleigh in Rabka, Poland, in 2006
Dziadek (Grandfather) and Wnuczek (grandson) having fun on the sled being pulled by the sleigh in Rabka, Poland, in 2006

Continue reading #ThrowbackThursday: Our Travels (with Kids) 10 and 5 Years Ago

Tips for a Fun December Weekend in Boston

Every December the Boston Ballet stages a production of The Nutcracker at the Boston Opera House. I know it’s a tradition for some families to see the performance every year, but I wasn’t sure whether taking my daughter to see it made sense, because I was afraid she wasn’t mature enough to sit through the two-hour performance.

I was wrong.

This past December 2015, we were lucky to win two tickets to The Nutcracker through a WBUR raffle. (WBUR is a local National Public Radio station, my favorite station that I listen to every day.)

Continue reading Tips for a Fun December Weekend in Boston

Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

Beautiful Art in a Beautiful Building

Whenever I start my question with “Do you remember that museum we saw in …” my kids give me the look and reply “Which museum? You drag us to at least a couple museums every place we go to!”

But with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna it was different. I only had to say “Do you remember that museum in Vienna where we had lunch in this really nice round room, where Daddy waved to us from the hole in the ceiling up above?” and they knew exactly which place I was talking about.

My daughter replied with “Was it that place where they had a lot of Egyptian stuff? And all that gold?”

My son added “Was it the one where they had this big painting of a mountain that looked like a tower?”

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Tower of Babel, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Tower of Babel, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Yep, that’s the one.

Continue reading Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna