museum Tag

Pig Museum, Stuttgart, Schweine Museum, germany, pig collection
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I didn’t want to miss piggy!

Pig Museum, Stuttgart, Germany If I told you the world’s biggest pig museum is in Stuttgart, would you think I was telling you a porkie? Well, I’m not. Lying to you is a loin I wouldn’t cross. When I found out that there was a Pig Museum (or Schweine Museum, in German) in Stuttgart, I was so excited it was almost enough to make me squeal. So I immediately trotted off there chop chop. I didn’t want to miss piggy. The museum opened in 2010 in the old administration building of a slaughterhouse. Since then it has grown to the point where it has more than 50,000 items on display. The museum is less about the pig itself, and more about what we, as humans, have done with the pig image. And, gee, do we ham it up! Pigs might fly but they also sit, eat, and shag… and all of things are represented in...

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30 October
mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum
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Where the car was born

Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany It was here, in the Germany city of Stuttgart, that the first modern automobile was created. It’s almost unrecognisable by today’s standards but the patent that Karl Benz submitted in 1886 for a vehicle with a gas engine and three wheels is generally considered to be the “birth certificate” of today’s cars. How that legacy that he created more than a century ago has grown. Not only does the world respect the Mercedes-Benz like almost no other car brand – but here in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany, its parent company, Daimler, is industrial royalty. “What are you doing here in Stuttgart,” a guy asks me and some other bloggers at a bar on the first night in town. We tell him that we’re here for work. “Oh, don’t tell me,” he says. “You work for Daimler, right?” We don’t. Obviously. But it shows you the reputation the motoring giant has...

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29 October
marshal tito's grave, belgrade, Josip Broz Tito, serbia, yugoslavia
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The man who kept Yugoslavia together

Marshal Josip Broz Tito To understand Serbia and the relationship with its neighbours today, you need to look back many decades. You need to look back to the time when Yugoslavia brought together most of the Balkans under the one country. And, most importantly, you need to know more about Marshal Josip Broz Tito - a man referred to simply as Tito. He was the ruler of Yugoslavia for almost 40 years - as Prime Minister from 1943–63 and then President from 1953–80. And, despite his fair share of controversy, he kept the country intact and above much of the conflict that happened around it. While the Cold War was being fought from either side of Yugoslavia, Tito intentionally stayed non-aligned and, in the process, oversaw a burgeoning economy in the 1960s and 1970s. While he was criticised by some for being authoritarian, generally Tito was considered to be a benevolent dictator. Marshal Tito's Grave,...

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15 July
nikola tesla museum, belgrade, serbia, famous inventors, tesla coil
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A spark of genius and genius of spark

Nikola Tesla It seems odd to me, as I walk around the museum in Belgrade and learn more about the life of Nikola Tesla, that he is not a household name. It’s especially odd since his inventions are in every single household – powering everything from your hairdryer to your fridge. But at the heart of the Tesla story and the controversy of his legacy is an intriguing mix of patriotic propaganda, economic warfare, unbridled vision and a thin grasp of sanity. What is agreed unanimously is that Nikola Tesla was a genius ahead of his time. He was born a Serb (although in modern day Croatia) but did most of his work in the USA after emigrating there at the age of 28. Although he could probably not have had the support to do his research anywhere else, it was working in America that was the first nail in the coffin of...

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11 July
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, art museum, gallery
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Making art about the experience

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands I stare at the collection of hangars and ropes with confusion. This is supposedly the coat rack for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam but I can’t seem to work it out. It’s not until one of the museum staff comes over and explains it that it starts to make a bit of sense. You need to pull on a rope in the central area to make a hangar somewhere else come down. Once you’ve put your coat on, you can pull it back up with the rope and then lock it into place, your coat dangling metres above the ground. If it sounds unnecessarily complicated, it is. But that’s intentional. This isn’t an ordinary museum and the idea is to get you thinking and interacting before you’ve even walked through to the main galleries. The collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen first started...

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30 May
tomioka silk mill, japan, abandoned factory, world heritage list, industrial japan
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Where there’s a mill, there’s a nay

Tomioka Silk Mill, Gunma, Japan When the Tomioka Silk Mill first opened in Japan in 1872, the Japanese government set out to recruit young women to come and work at the factory. But they were shocked to find that nobody was applying. It was well-paid work in a relatively comfortable environment, so why were there no takers? Well, it turns out that the Japanese were scared of the French technical advisors who had been hired to run the mill because it was rumoured that the French drank blood! The young women were terrified and refused to apply for jobs. It got so bad that the Japanese government had to issue official notices to deny the rumours. As it turns out, the story had started because the Japanese had seen the French drinking red wine and had mistaken it for blood. In the end, the head manager of the mill – a Japanese...

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29 April
Yasukuni Shrine, Yushukan Museum, Tokyo, japanese war memorial, japanese war history
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The land of the eternally-rising sun

Yakusuni Shrine and Yushukan Museum They say it’s the victors who get to write history. Obviously nobody told the Japanese. While most of the world sees the Imperial Japanese as merciless invaders during the period of World War II, the country’s largest war museum mixes the red and white of the national flag to use rose-coloured pigments to paint a very different picture. Japan, if you are to believe the rhetoric, were trying to be liberators of Asia and were forced into the global conflict by a manipulative West who intentionally starved the country of resources. It’s no wonder so much controversy surrounds this site. The Yushukan War Museum is part of the divisive Yakusuni Shrine in central Tokyo. The shrine itself honours more than 2 million Japanese who lost their lives in the service of Japan. A war memorial should not aim to be controversial but the inclusion on the honour roll...

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26 April