Free Museum Day: April

Seattle has an excellent tradition, Free First Thurdays. Almost every museum in or near the city has free/drastically reduced admission on the first Thursday of every month. My sister-in-law (12) was visiting for the weekend, and all agreed that a museum run was a good idea.
First we hit the the Kenwood House exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. We’d missed it in March, mostly because we needed to save money for Con. The special exhibition price was cut in half, they consider disabled veterans “military” for discount purposes, and my SiL was free, which saved us about 50 bucks total.. It didn’t allow pictures, sadly, and most of these aren’t available on-line (Remember kids: museums are for preserving our heritage to whore it out, not spreading knowledge or beauty..). It’s the collection of one of the founders of the Guinness brewing company, funded by his vast fortune. It includes various Rembrandts, which the SAM has been advertising to the virtual exclusion of all else, as well as many other European masters. Their ads basically go “REMBRANDT and also Van Dyck and some other guys you don’t care about REMBRANDT SELF-PORTRAIT OMG”. But in addition to the big names, the travelling exhibition includes a LOT of miscellaneous 1630-1660 art, which is one of my favorite periods for art, fashion, and gaming. More on that in another post. It also had some gorgeous sea scenes, mostly by Cuyp – and since the only things I like more than airplanes and guns artistically is a wooden ship… There was a good bit of Regency and late 1700s art tucked away in the arse-end of the exhibition, but I didn’t get much time back there. I’ll likely have more next month, though.

I found it disappointing that they hid all the religious art in a side gallery, ignoring it on the audio tour.. but really, did we expect anything else? The main gallery was all about the cultus of celebrity, barely acknowledging the turmoil of the time or even the heavy Classical symbolism in the portraits, like one of James Stuart and his hunting dog arrayed as Adonis, or of a young girl as St. Agnes among a flock of lambs. Anyway, there was an absolutely gorgeous Annunciation and Pieta hidden in the back with the sketches, not to mention some lovely Regency art.

My favorite painting overall was of the crown prince of France ~1630-something in absolutely gorgeous banded mail. Every rivet was a gold-plated Fleur-de-lis, his Cuiriassers’ helm was exquisite, and you could practically feel the buffs and lace in the shot. This one of Princess Henrietta was also lovely. After about an hour, my wife dragged me away from salivating over clothes (irony? Perhaps.) to grab lunch and hit the second stop on our tour – one that actually allowed photographs!
This link goes to another blogger discussing the exhibition, with a few more pics.

The second stop on our tour was the Seattle Museum of History and Industry (aka the MOHAI to locals). I learned quite a lot, and managed to snap many pics of cars, guns, and ships; did’st expect anything else? We rode the South Lake Union Trolley, whose acronym is an endless font of lulz to Seattleites (we’ve got shirts that loudly advertise riding it around town, for example). I’ll let the pics do the talking for a bit.
The original Toe Truck (my other pics came out really shittily)
IMG_20130404_142349_687

An extremely succinct argument in favor of the second Amendment. There was an attempted mass-deportation and murder of the Chinese in Seattle, which ended with a gunbattle between (among others) Know-Nothing and Klan rioters against an ad-hoc militia of Whites and Chinese; Seattle was placed under martial law for over a week afterwards.  IMG_20130404_145608_942

The rest of the display caseIMG_20130404_145623_246

A stunning model of the USS Decatur, a Sloop-of-War named after one of my personal heroes (Cmmdre Stephen Decatur). She took part in the “battle of Seattle”, which consisted largely of shooting Natives with cannon.

IMG_20130404_150102_430A purty clock.
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H.M.S. Discovery. She was a little chunky, but not unlovely. She was converted into a bomb ship and later a prison vessel.
IMG_20130404_150430_366HMS Beaver, a hybrid steamer, and a very nice “pepperbox” revolver into the bargain.
IMG_20130404_150444_636Some shots of the 4-gun (?!) turrets of USS Nebraska, laid, built, and christened in Seattle. Scrapped after the WNT, since (obviously) she wasn’t exactly at the cutting edge of naval tech and we needed to give up something to keep the JPs in check doncherknow. The side-mounted casemated gundecks are another pretty little curiosity.
IMG_20130404_152149_379 IMG_20130404_152157_382 IMG_20130404_152202_227
One of the early UPS trucks – UPS was actually founded in Seattle as a messenger boy company. These were built in the SODO Ford plant, now demolished.
IMG_20130404_142241_646Most of the rest of my pics were a little sketchy, but the excursion was fun, educational, and free! And I didn’t suffer too badly for it the next day – remembered my Ibuprofen this time..

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