Impressionism at the de Young and Legion of Honor

The last couple of weekends we took advantage of our museum memberships and went to a few art exhibits in San Francisco. If you’re in the area, definitely check out the major Impressionism exhibits, one of which closes on Labor Day: Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay at the de Young. [Update (September 3): I just read that tickets for the final days are now sold out. Read on for other available exhibits.]

The Legion of Honor, which has same-day admission reciprocity with the de Young, has a companion exhibit called Impressionist Paris: City of Light, closing September 26. The de Young exhibit definitely had the marquee paintings, but I actually found the Legion of Honor exhibit a bit more quirky and interesting with its variety of posters, book illustrations, and so forth, in addition to paintings.

And if you can’t get enough Impressionism, just wait, there’s more! Both museums will have additional related exhibits later this fall and into the new year.

We also went to SFMOMA for Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection (closes September 19), a wide-ranging exhibition with works by the modern greats.

All these museums are beautiful buildings and sites in their own right and a great way to spend an afternoon in the city. Food note: After the de Young, go have a meal at Park Chow and for dessert get the warm ginger cake with pumpkin ice cream. It’s de rigueur in my book.

Nightlife (and a blast from the past) at the Academy

Last night Thom and I went to Nightlife, the California Academy of Science‘s weekly Thursday night party, and it was a lot of fun. We sort of went on the spur of the moment and it was sold out online, but they were selling tickets at the door, and thanks to Thom’s membership, we didn’t have to wait long to get our tickets.

It was my second time to the new Academy, but my first time in the planetarium. That show (narrated by Sigourney Weaver), which takes you on a short trip through the universe, is pretty amazing. Stuff like that reminds you how vast space is and how small we are. After that we saw a special movie/performance piece called Bella Gaia, which focuses on the Earth, mixing satellite images and data visualizations with the words of International Space Station astronauts. The director was there to present the film; he is also a violinist, and he played violin during the movie as part of the score.

(South Park viewers will be pleased to know that I pronounce it planet arium. Thom and I always crack up at this clip, below. “And these two little stars over here form the constellation The Crusades.” Hahaha.)

Afterward, we wandered the museum and spent the rest of the evening at the aquarium exhibits. It’s a fun vibe at Nightlife. (And you save a lot over the regular daytime admission, which is always nice!)

And now a blast from the past. Here’s a photo of me with my paternal grandparents, taken in March 1980 when I was almost three years old, in front of the old Academy of Sciences building. The only things I remember about the old Academy are the circular fish tank and the giant Foucault pendulum. And did they have an earthquake simulator or was that at the Exploratorium?

California Academy of Sciences (1980)


Hillwood Museum and Gardens

Neat, a photo of mine is being used on a new city guide website called DestinationGuide. It’s on their page for the Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C. Hillwood, the former estate of Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, is a great place to check out and spend an afternoon if you’re in the area; they even have a Gay Day every summer. By the way, the other day I came across a New York Times article about Washington estate museums, and at the “top of the heap” is Hillwood.

Here’s my photo:


More photos from our visit to Hillwood back in August 2005 are up on Flickr.

Park Chalet

Last Sunday Thom and I ended up having an impromptu afternoon at a few westside San Francisco spots. We were looking for a place to have brunch, and we decided on the Park Chalet, which is just behind its more visible sibling, the Beach Chalet, on Great Highway. They have a buffet brunch on Sundays; I think my favorite thing was the crème brûlée french toast, yum.

Afterward we went across the street to Ocean Beach and walked around for a bit, then drove up to the Legion of Honor museum, where we happened to arrive just as the weekly organ concert was starting. All great sights, so that means another video! And a few additional photos (map) are up on Flickr.

When I tested the video with my focus group, i.e., Thom, he said the music for the Ocean Beach segment was “very 90210.” Ha!