Walking in a Winter Wonderland with El Greco: Strasbourg
December 24, 2009 MuseumChick
Strasbourg, France is the city of Alsace known for its 439 year old Christmas market. That’s older than the USA! This winter-wonderland of a city is quaint with great food that blends the best of French and German cuisine and for a relatively small city they have so many museums. It was hard to pull myself away from the markets and buttery Christmas cookies to explore the history of Strasbourg and its modern insertions. (Looking out the window of the Musée Strasbourg out into the winter-wonderland)
I started at the Musée Alsacien (Alsatian Museum) to get a feel for the histo ry behind this old city, its markets and the way the Alsatians used to live a few hundred yea rs ago. The Musée Alsacien is located in a beautiful historic house that displays early 18th and 19 th century furniture with mock-up rooms that were typical back then to show what Alsace was like a couple hundred years ago. Particularly interesting was the stove from 1830. Oh, I bet the y made some great Choucroute in that!
Even better for a dose of history was the Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg. This museum was modern with audio guides that automatically played when you walked towards an item on display. They also had a bible from 1485! Strasbourg is especially proud of the work done there by Johannes Gutenberg who invented the mechanical printing press and produced the first printed bible.
After learning a bit of history, I headed towards the Musée de Beaux Arts. The collection was better than I expected and included works by Tintoretto, Goya and Veronese and I was so excited that they had an El Greco painting, Mater Dolorosa from 1590 (below) ! He’s one of my favorite artists.
Still dreaming of buttery Christmas cookies at the markets, I headed to the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg (Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Strasbourg). I wouldn’t say that France is known for its modern art museums and this museum was no exception but they did have one piece on exhibit that was particularly fantastic and that was Vassily Kandinsky’s Salon de Musique. This three wall ceramic piece was created by Kandinsky for an architectural forum called Bauhausaustellung in Berlin in 1931 at the request of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, director of the Bauhaus School of Design and re-created on the wall at the museum.
I then ventured off of my map and away from the museums was an exhibit called Balançoires de Lumière (Swings of Light) at the St. Maurice Church. A creation of artist Rachel Maisonneuve, where 200 glass swings hung at different lengths to create an effect of movement and reflection and was especially beautiful when viewed looking towards the 19th century stained glass windows of the church. The modern installation hanging against the ornate church from 1893 created an interesting contrast of styles.