Museum Muses

Finding inspiration from museums around the world. Writing reviews so you know where to find inspiration.

Chinese Sword with inlaid openwork hilt, Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC)


Chinese Sword with inlaid openwork hilt, Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC)

The Kunsthistorisches Museum

The grand, beautiful building of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is a perfect setting in which to view a wonderful collection of old master paintings and ancient antiquities.

The museum hosts many fantastic works of art, including portraits of the Hapsburgs, and works by Raphael and Titian. However, it was the ‘Kunstkammer’ section that wowed me the most. All these objects come from Austria’s royal history, and are glittering, ostentatious, complex, and inventive. From huge crystal jugs cut from a single piece of rock crystal, to a working automata golden ship whose cannons actually blow, each case will present you with something big, beautiful, and probably gleaming.

Most sections of the museums have English labelling, and with such a vast collection you could spend a day here. If you go to a museum in Vienna, this is definitely a good choice!

National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum is one of the best museums in York.  With two great halls to explore filled with famous trains from throughout history, as well as exhibition spaces, you can spend a good few hours here.

On first entry, you will see a recreated station, with several platforms giving a home to various trains, which are all decked out in authentic period decorations and ephemera.  Peer into the sumptuous carriages of the royal family, and step into trains you may have used in the 70s and 80s!

Following this, there is a great hall in which you are able to get up close to dozens, and dozens of trains, many of which are famous names.  You’ll be able to see the Mallard 75, and even take a seat in a Japanese bullet train.

And if this isn’t enough, there’s plenty of interactives to keep the kids happy, and more trains to see zooming past outside on the viewing platform!

Wells Fargo Museum
Charlotte, N.C

Tucked away in the giant Wells Fargo building in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a small, yet excellent, museum on the history of the Wells Fargo bank.  With recreations of company carriages and cars that can be stepped in, a real pneumatic tube that can be used, as well as dozens of interactives, this place is a great place to take the kids.  

However, the museum is also replete with interesting facts. For example, did you know that banks once had special ladies rooms because women used to keep their money underneath their skirts?

And to top it all off, unlike many museums in the U.S, it’s free! So if you have some spare time in Charlotte, this is 100% worth it!

York’s Chocolate Story

Most people go to York for Vikings and beautiful medieval buildings, but here I want to give you a whole new reason to go to York - CHOCOLATE!

Home to many famous chocolate and sweet companies, from Rowntrees (fruit pastilles) to Terry’s (chocolate orange), York’s Chocolate Story covers an important part of York’s history.  In this one hour tour, you’ll find out about the origins of chocolate in South America, how York became a capital of chocolate, and how how experimentation resulted in famous confectioneries, such as the Aero and the Kit Kat.  You’ll get a virtual experience of the chocolate making process, as well the opportunity to make your own chocolate lolly. Last but not least, the end of the experience involves a demonstration of how to make chocolate truffles and, more importantly, eat them!

This is a truly enjoyable tour, and priced well considering the cost of other attractions in York.  However, while my guide was excellent, the tour is extremely scripted, which allows no room for improvisation or discussion, and a repetitive role for the tour guides themselves. On the whole though, York’s Chocolate Story is well worth a visit!

The Cloisters
New York

Operated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters is an absolutely fantastic museum in which to experience art and artefacts from the medieval era in Europe.  Archways, statues, effigy’s, and more have all been cleverly incorporated into a building whose design is inspired by Gothic architecture. For Americans who may not have the opportunity to travel to Europe, this is your chance to be transported to a time long ago, and sense what life in those medieval cloisters might have felt like.

For all, this is more than a museum - it’s an experience! 


Student Breaks 19th Century Statue While Taking A Selfie

There are a few basic rules in museums. The first: don’t touch the art. The second: don’t take selfies while touching the art.

At a museum in Milan, Italy, a student reportedly broke that second rule: he climbed on a statue dating back to the early 19th century to take a selfie and caused the statue’s left leg to fall off. The discovery was made on Tuesday morning by the staff of the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, one of Italy’s most renowned academic institutions, and it was apparently also recorded by security cameras.

So this happened.

(We want to see the video.)

(via virgileseptembre)

Goodbye White Cube…And I Won’t Even Miss You

Museum of Fine Arts

What better way to show off your collection, than to recreate the environments in which they would have originally been placed?  This is the strategy taken by the MFA in Boston, where they display paintings, sculpture, and furnishings alongside each other, with beautiful period inspired backdrops.

This exhibition technique brings the objects to life, and demonstrates to audiences how trends have changed in each era, and how great painting, and interior decoration, often go hand in hand.

Furthermore, the seating arrangements often recreate that of a lounge or living room atmosphere, making you feel welcome to sit and chill in these beautiful environments.