MoMA

Two meetings I planned for Saturday morning before leaving for Chicago got canceled, but I already knew what I was going to do: The Museum of Modern Art was less than a 20-minute walk from my hotel. The last time I was at MoMA was with Igor’s friends’ family, and it turned out that I completely missed some paintings. I can’t say that we didn’t visit these rooms, because I remembered some paintings very well.

As I often do when I have limited time in a huge museum, I decided not to rush and see just a part of the museum but to pay close attention to each painting. The room with WWI and WWII-inspired art immediately caught my attention. It is possible that I saw these paintings last time as well, but they didn’t feel so timely back then. Unfortunately, I just realized that most of my photos from that room are very blourry, so there s almost nothing to show.

Collective suicide
Beckmann- “Hell”
Beckmann – Family picture
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The Art Institute And Gelato

It was more for today’s day! After all of the morning /afternoon activities in Palatine, I returned to the city and met the youth from the shelter in the Art Institute.

We were there a month ago, and although some of the youth appeared interested, the field trip was pretty chaotic. I was unsure how things would turn up this time, but to my surprise, seven of the youth showed up, including a couple of folks who were there on our previous Art Institute outing. Another surprising thing was that everybody was very engaged, and we stayed in the museum until it was about to close. I had to answer the same questions they usually ask in Medieval art: where are people of color? And as usual, they shake their heads in disbelief when I tell them that people lived in one town or village throughout their entire lives, and they didn’t know: you mean, they didn’t know there were other places? They thought that people everywhere were like them? 

After the Art Institute, I took everybody to the new gelato place. Some people started to walk forward, and our volunteer coordinator told those still there that I was taking them for gelato. 

— What is gelato?

— It’s a kind of ice cream.

— Ice cream?! Hey, stoop! STOOOP! She is taking us for ice cream!!!! 

We got to the gelato place. When the youth realized they could try multiple flavors, one of the girls asked: can I try all of them?!

The staff of the gelato shop was super-patient, and when the youth got all the flavors they wanted, there was peace, quiet and eternal happiness. 

Chicago Adventures With Lena

Yesterday, my friend Lena from Ann Arbor came to visit me for the weekend, and today was a blast! Not even mentioning how much I enjoy Lena’s company, what a fun person she is, but we did tons of cool things together.

We started the day with the Millennium Art Fair on Michigan Avenue, where I bought two rings with flowers inside, and Lena bought a pair of earrings with butterfly wings (they explained to us that they collect the wings from dead butterflies).

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The Military Museum and The Prison Museum

There are two more museums in Hameenlinna, which are situated on the Hame Castle grounds: the Military museum, which is dedicated to the history of everything war-related in Finland, and the Prison museum, which is located in the building that served as a prison until 1993. Both of these museums are very educational, and I want to come there one more time, to learn more about Finnish history. When we were there, it was a sort of information overflow. I know that I can look up most of the topics which are covered by the museum exhibits, but it’s different.

Below are just some photos, to give an idea of the museums’ collections (and the Military museum has a huge outdoor exhibit, which was close to impossible to attend in the midday with +86 F.

The view of the Hame Castle from the Military museum
I was shocked to learn that using artillery against people was considered a sin!
The Prison museum
Solitary confinement
Force-feeding chair
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Midsummer

Sunday was perfect. It was the Midsummer, and it was the first time in my life I was in Helsinki on this day. Also, it was unusually hot (and still is) – the temperatures were in the mid-upper 80s. On Saturday night, we talked about going to Hameenlinna on Sunday but decided to sleep on it. In the morning, it still looked like a great idea, so we purchased the train tickets and went!

It felt like a perfect day. And it was weird because it was right after the Roe/Wade overturn, and also, it was the day of Russia’s shelling of Kiyv, so the two worst things were so much there and happening, but I still felt immensely happy, and I do not feel bad about it. It was not for a while that I didn’t worry about things and what I needed to do today and tomorrow. I liked that the weather was so nice and that we were going to see this new place, which we had planned to visit so many times, but never did.

We were not sure whether it was a good idea to go there on a big holiday weekend, but it looked like everybody who wanted to visit the castle did it on Saturday:). There were almost no visitors to the museums, and we had a great time. The only disappointment was the Birthplace of Sibelius museum; it was closed from Friday to Monday for the Midsummer.

I think we will visit Hameenlinna one more time. There was too much information in all museums to take in in one day!

Computer History Museum

Still more from our California trip: on our second day, we visited the Computer History Museum.

This is an absolutely awesome museum! I took tons of pictures, and there is no way I will be able to tell about everything I saw. One thing I wanted to mention: I am shocked that such a museum does not have any public transportation access! It’s unbelievable! I am very grateful to my friend who suggested this museum and took us there – I won’t be able to visit it on any of my conference-related trips.

Pre-historic computers:

Introduction of punch cards:

Did you know what was the original purpose of the punch cards?
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A Weekend With My Girls

My girls visited over the weekend, and we had tons of plans. The plans got almost canceled because Nadia started to get sick on Thursday night, and both Anna and Nadia arrived partially sick. Then we didn’t go anywhere on Saturday because Nadia was getting sicker and sicker, and Anna was about to go home right away. 

We finally decided to wait till Sunday morning, and to my surprise, Nadia woke up mostly normal and ready for adventure.

We went to the Field Museum as we originally planned to do on Saturday. This weekend was marked by the opening of the new Native American Galleries. The whole exhibit space was completely re-imaged; both the content and the presentation became more meaningful. There were several activities related to the new exhibit. One was the native storytelling with Karen Ann Hoffman. All I can tell – she was amazing, and I am not going to try to retell the stories. We all sat on the floor and listened for half an hour.

Another great activity was basket weaving. We looked at the demonstration, and later, we could stop by, and get our share of materials and instructions. We came back for the next two strings, and then the last time to finish the project. All of us (except probably Kira) enjoyed this activity a lot – we worked together and ant the end, we had this cute basket!

Finishing touches to our family basket

Once again, we spent almost the whole day in the museum and came home with barely any time left to have leftovers dinner before the girls went home.

Vilnius Museum of Occupation

We had a list of museums we thought we wanted to visit on Saturday (our flight out was at 6-30 PM, so we had most of the day). The Museum of Occupation was something new on the list of Vilnius museums, and I saw that it was very popular. Since this museum was the furthest from our hotel, we decided to start there and see how much time we had left for other museums. 

But that museum impressed us so much that after spending 2.5 hours there, we realized we could not go anywhere else, so we spent the rest of that day walking along the streets of Old Town and talking about what we saw. 

There is no other museum like this in any of the former Soviet Republics, and I think that if such museums were open in all the Russian cities, maybe, maybe… maybe things would look differently today.

The museum is located in a former Lithuanian KGB building, and the KGB internal prison is still preserved in the basement. Exhibits on the first and second floors present the history of Lithuania’s fight for freedom from 1940 to 1991. 

After leaving the museum, Boris said: I am trying to figure out which parts we didn’t know. We knew most of the facts, but in some cases, we were not aware of the magnitude of the events, and in some, we simply never gave it enough thought, which I am now ashamed of. 

I knew about deportations in 1941, right before the start of the war, but I didn’t know that there were multiple waves of deportations after the war. The number of displaced people might not look so big until you think about the total population of Lithuania and realize that it was more than 10% of the total population.

We knew about the Forest Brothers, but I had no idea that they kept fighting until 1953! I didn’t know how well they were organized, how much support did they have in the country, and I didn’t know about their multiple unsuccessful attempts to get some support from the West. 

Knowing these facts, there is no wonder to see such overwhelming support for Ukraine everywhere in Lithuania! 

The exhibit explains how “a quiet resistance” rolled out after the Forest Brothers were defeated. And once again, it made me think about the time I visited Lithuania when I was a teen and a young adult. I am ashamed of myself now that I think about how we were coming there, the occupants, and how we were oblivious that we were seen as occupants. Also, I know many Russians who moved to Lithuania after the war and after the mass deportations, and they were completely ignorant about their role in the occupation. 

The part of the museum that talks about the labor camps was somewhat less impressive because I knew a lot about them. But the KGB prison left a completely grave impression, even though, theoretically, we knew how the suspects and the prisoners were treated. 

And one of the most impressive parts of the exhibit was the room where they presented the complete organizational chart of the Lithuanian KGB organization, with names and photographs! That’s where I thought – we should have had this for each KGB organization on the territory of the former Soviet Union! Then, maybe… 

I am not sure whether the pictures can add much, but I tried to make them informative. As for the prison, the most horrifying thing is that it is real, and not only real but also very recent.

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Vilnius Toy Museum

OMG, what a wonderful museum! It was just a block away from our hotel, but we didn’t notice it first because the entrance is hidden behind the heavy gates, and you need to press a buzzer, and they actually ask who are you and whether you really want to enter!

One museum with hand sanitizer everywhere :). Some old toys are behind the glass, but there are copies available for play, and you can touch and try pretty much everything. There were so many families, and kids were having the time of their lives!

And I want to mention, that Boris liked playing with lots of these toys 🙂

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