Covid-19 sucked, sucks and continues to suck for a lot of reasons, many of them highly important, including the loss of life. For those we have lost, I try to remember to celebrate their lives and thus live my life with importance, reverence and purpose, for them especially. For me, there are three things I missed doing in my normal life that we couldn’t do, go to museums/cultural exhibits, live music, and planning travel.
One of my family members one time told us, “I don’t like art.” That statement has stuck with me for how nonsensical it is, and I think when it was said they meant to say they didn’t like going to Museums, because that person reads voraciously and writing is art, duh. Anyway, I love going to museums, and love all kinds of museums, and I think that stems from growing up in Chicago, where there are so many awesome museums and cultural centers to visit, and that my parents made sure we visited as many as possible.
I still remember going to see space exploration movies at the Omnimax theater at the Museum of Science and Industry, visiting the Oriental Institute with my fifth-grade class, exploring the Art Institute of Chicago as a high school senior, taking summer school field trips to the Museum of Natural History, going with friends as a college student to the Contemporary Art Museum, staring up at the (fake) stars at the Adler Planetarium, and visiting the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, even traveling with my Dad to Milwaukee Art Museum as a twenty-something. Almost every time I was in Chicago I would visit the Art Institute on the free day (which was Tuesdays when I was younger) and I loved taking Jesse to explore it as well. Although the last time we went to the Science and Industry Museum we arrived too late to go under the ground into the coal miners exhibit, we learned that in the coal mining Asturias region we currently live, there is a coal mining exhibit, so she may get to see some underground mines sooner than our next trip to Chicago (fingers-crossed).
In any event, we explored so many excellent Museums in our time in Southern California and before that, in St Louis, as we lived within walking distance of the Art and History museums, which were always free entry, that we went more times than I can count on two hands. To me, there is something awe inspiring and motivating and impressive to see what humans have created, some long since dead, other more recently passed, and current living artists. Also, in natural history, to see what nature has produced before and during human history.
For many kids, including myself, dinosaurs were my first real entry point to history (and art), and I still am in awe of what nature created and continues to create, and also loving visiting zoos, at least where the animals are treated decently (NOT the LA Zoo, the lion exhibit there is a travesty), the San Diego Zoo is supremely overrated, although the safari park near San Diego is a much recommended experience. Gijón actually has a small wild bird sanctuary in the middle of the park Isabella de Catolica, which we just happened upon, with some of the biggest chickens I have ever seen, some peacocks, and two massive Emus.
I list these aforementioned visits because I do not want to forget them; every place I have visited has made me think more about my place in the world, and help me realize that many great artists and creators and inventors have come and gone throughout human history, and just to be able to glimpse what humans are capable of, and have done, gives me hope for the future of our species, when the news, politics, anger, and poverty can seem overwhelming.
So what have we seen here in Asturias? An earlier blog post was about our trip to visit some of the natural beauty, and now I’ll talk more about some of our museum experiences. Gijón is not known as a museum town, meaning there is no Prado, no Guggenheim, not even a large art museum, however it does have a few smaller museums, and they are all free, and all have helped to quench that museum itch. (We also traveled to Oviedo and went to their excellent art museum, which I’ll talk about in a future post, that will include more of our Oviedo experiences).
Our first visit was to the Museum of Asturias (Museu del Pueblu D’Asturies) which is quite large, with a three floor inner museum, packed with all kinds of different artifacts from Asturian history. Two floors were packed with tools, utensils, ovens, and place settings for everyday living, from three different times in history, one the 1950s, then the 1900s, and then the 1850s. It was interesting because there were two rows on each floor of items, one row for the poor/workers, and the other for the bourgeoisie. The dichotomy was very interesting/enlightening and I don’t think there would be such in the US.
There were also many outbuildings, one called Horres (pronounced similar to Oreos), which are wood structures about five feet off the ground, held up by large posts. There was also a small hut for living, a very large, (no longer in use) cider processing plant (Asturias is famous for their cider, which is more sour than Irish cider, which is more sweet) as well as a building devoted to bagpipes and other musical instruments from Asturias’s past. My favorites were the 50s and 60s movie posters, colorful phonographs, armoires, and cider signs, which you can see below:
As this post has gone on a lot longer and I only spoke about one museum, I’ll make further posts about more, since I really like museum, and Gijón has such unique ones, all with their own allures.