Le Centre Pompidou

A couple of weeks ago, two friends and I decided to visit Le Centre Pompidou, Paris’ modern art museum, after class.  It’s one of the few museums I remember from my family vacation nearly twelve years ago, so I was really excited to go back.  Now that I’ve got my Sciences Po student ID card, I can get into most museums in Paris for free, so I’ve been trying to take full advantage of that.  The best part about free entry is that I don’t feel any pressure to see everything or to stay long enough to get my money’s worth.  Since I’m already a pretty slow museum navigator, it’s nice to just stroll at a leisurely pace and know that I can always come back to see whatever I miss.

On the way to le Centre Pompidou

Palais de Justice on the way to Le Centre Pompidou

The Seine!

La Seine

Afternoon traffic

Afternoon traffic

Tower on the way to le Centre Pompidou

Tower on the way to le Centre Pompidou

Le Centre Pompidou

Le Centre Pompidou

Alexander Calder's Horizontal

Alexander Calder’s ‘Horizontal’

The museum building itself, as you can see, is really cool.  It’s escalators are encased in hamster tube-like structures that line the exterior and offer views of the surrounding neighborhood.  The space bridges the notions of inside and outside — architectural design as art, I guess.

Square in front of the museum

Square in front of the museum

In front of le Centre Pompidou

In front of le Centre Pompidou

Inside le Centre Pompidou

Inside le Centre Pompidou

Tube-encased, semi-exterior escalators

Tube-encased, semi-exterior escalators

The works on display were equally impressive and often striking — here are some of my favorites.

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Furniture?!

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View from le Centre Pompidou

View from Le Centre Pompidou

View from le Centre Pompidou

View from Le Centre Pompidou

Can you spot the Eiffel Tower?

Can you spot the Eiffel Tower?

The Eiffel Tower from le Centre Pompidou

The Eiffel Tower from Le Centre Pompidou

Sacre Coeur from le Centre Pompidou

Sacre Coeur from Le Centre Pompidou

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I Spy… Le Tour Eiffel!

Over the course of the two weeks I’ve been in Paris, I’ve seen the famous Eiffel Tower from a number of different vantage points.  Here are my favorite shots.
The Eiffel Tower in the context of normal Parisian life. An appropriate first sighting of the famous landmark.

The Eiffel Tower in the context of normal Parisian life. An appropriate first sighting of the famous landmark.

The Eiffel Tower and the Seine.

The Eiffel Tower and the Seine.

Last shot from night #1 - the Tower sparkling on the hour!

It sparkles on the hour!

Pretty incredible view from a museum café.

Pretty incredible view from a museum café.

Another view from the museum café, this time lit up and including a bit of the museum courtyard area.

Another view from the museum café, this time lit up and including a bit of the museum courtyard area.

I had to include at least one picture of me with it...

Up close and personal. I had to include at least one picture of me with it…

The Sparkling Tower, take two.

The Sparkling Tower, take two.

On the Seine, once again.

On the Seine, once again.

I spy Le Tour Eiffel! (Taken at Centre Pompidou)

I spy Le Tour Eiffel! (Taken at Centre Pompidou)

The view from Centre Pompidou, the awesome modern art museum in Paris.

The view from Centre Pompidou, the awesome modern art museum in Paris.

Leeum: Samsung Museum of Art

Two weekends ago, after the fantastic brunch I posted about previously, my UChicago classmate and I explored Itaewon by foot.  Neither of us really knew what Itaewon had to offer, so we wandered around aimlessly with the hope of discovering something interesting.  As it turns out, we did!

We spotted a sign for Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art, in one of the alleys branching off from the main road.  The name sounded really familiar…and then I realized I had included it as a “must-see” in my oral presentation on sightseeing in Korea (for my Korean class in Chicago, of course)!  Neither of us had anywhere to be and we were right there, so we couldn’t pass it up.

Before even entering the museum itself, two giant spiders (like in Harry Potter, but bigger) loomed up out of nowhere.  We hadn’t seen them from the sidewalk because they’re located on a large deck above street level, so when I first caught sight of them, I was pretty awestruck.  It’s hard not to be when you come across a sculpture of a spider more than four times your height.  The piece is entitled “Maman” (French for mother) and is by Louise Bourgeois, a French-American artist and sculptor.  Back in high school, I went to an exhibit of her work at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for an art class, which equipped me with some insight into the themes that link much of her artwork.  She bases almost all of her pieces on past experiences and memories from her childhood and is known today as the “mother of confessional art”.  The spiders are pretty incredible to behold.

Inside, we bought tickets that granted us access to the entire museum and were directed to start on the fourth floor of ‘Museum 1’.  Leeum is split into two parts — ‘Museum 1’ is the traditional art wing, while ‘Museum 2’ showcases modern art — so I got to see celadon pottery and large installations in the same visit!  It also turns out this museum is a bit particular about how visitors go about — there were arrows at every turn and plenty of staff on hand to instruct you which way to go.  At least you know you don’t miss anything!

Here are some photo highlights from the afternoon:

A tiny ancient pillow… Ceramic pillows? Who knew!

The awesome spiral building that houses ‘Museum 1’ and the light installation that you can see in the picture of the lobby above.

Another cool installation.

No pictures allowed!

Some rules are meant to be broken…

“PDA not allowed”

A Takashi Murakami piece.

The museum cafe.

Bank of Korea Museum

This past Saturday, I visited the Bank of Korea Museum.  I didn’t realize it was in Myungdong (even though I  looked at a map of how to get there), so I was a bit surprised to find myself amongst crowds of shoppers as I made my way to the museum.  Surprise aside, it was a pleasant walk since it wasn’t too hot out, and there was a nice fountain just across from the museum entrance as well as a view of Namsan Tower (otherwise known as Seoul Tower).

The museum has two floors, which cover the history of Korea’s central bank and national currency (Won) and showcase a huge variety of currencies used worldwide.

The reason I went to this somewhat boring museum was to see if there was any information about my great-grandfather, 배의환 (Eui Whan Pai), who served as Governor from June to September of 1960.  The last time I was in Korea, five summers ago, my dad, sister, cousin, and I visited the museum on a rainy day and found an interactive display that shared information on past Governors of the Bank of Korea.  It included a page on my great-grandfather, which we of course posed with and snapped photos of.  I’ll update this post with a couple of those pictures when I find them.

Anyways, I was kind of hoping to find something a little like that this time around, but the only thing I found was his signature (still very cool!).

I got to see lots of different types of currency, both old and new, which was really fun.  I made sure to check out samples of Turkish, Croatian, and Czech money, as I am hoping to travel to (at least one of) those places in the near future (i.e. during my 10 weeks in Rome!).  I’m in the midst of planning my dream trip now…

There were lots of old North and South Korean banknotes as well, pictured below!

Old South Korean currency

Old North Korean currency

North Korean currency

All in all, a good trip to the museum!  If you like (looking at specimens of) money, I’d definitely recommend it.

Old special-edition American currency

Bank of Korea Museum

110, 3-ga, Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea

http://museum.bok.or.kr

Subway: City Hall station, Exit 7 (Line 1/dark blue line, Line 2/green line); Uljiro 1-ga station, Exit 7 (Line 2/green line); Hwehyeon station, Exit 7 (Line 4/light blue line)

Admission: Free!

Seodaemun Prison History Hall

A friend of mine from UChicago suggested that I visit Seodaemun Prison and History Hall at some point during my time in Seoul.  He said it was an interesting place, though a bit depressing.  During the Japanese occupation, Seodaemun Prison housed many independence activists, many of whom suffered through torture and some of whom were executed.  As part of what is now Seodaemun Independence Park, many of the prison’s original buildings were preserved and are now historical monuments. Continue reading

National Museum of Korea

I admit I have some catching up to do…

When there are a few consecutive days when I don’t post (as has been the case recently), it’s often because I’ve been out and about more than usual (a good thing!).  So, let us return to last Thursday, when I visited the National Museum of Korea.   Continue reading