Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011: Berlin - Jewish Museum, Aquarium

In the morning I went to the Jewish Museum Berlin. As with yesterday's tour, there were dire historical objects and stark spaces and art evoking the Nazi Holocaust. But there was also other fascinating and fun history about the Jewish people throughout history, with a focus on their place in Germany - it was nice to balance out the sad with some good.

I was also particularly interested to visit the museum because the architect was Daniel Libeskind, who designed the Crystal addition for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. I am not a fan of his addition to the ROM - it strikes me as architecture that hates people. There were many similar elements in his design for the Jewish Museum, but here they made sense - a discordant, disorienting, alienating experience is appropriate for a troubled history of discrimination and repression. Transplanting the same design elements to the ROM simply clashes with a museum of natural and general cultural history. It doesn't make me like the Crystal any more, but it isn't as baffling now how it originated.

In the afternoon Mark had some time off, so we visited the Berlin Aquarium. It wasn't the best aquarium we've visited, but it did have a very lively octopus, which we greatly enjoyed. After that we walked about a bit more. I had been hoping we could visit an exhibition by Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, but our timing was unsuccessful. Too bad - their work is always fascinating.

For dinner we went for Chinese at a restaurant in the neighbourhood of our hotel. Not as good as we'd get in Toronto, but better than in France - not as much fear of a little heat and kick to the flavours!

An art installation at the Jewish Museum - metal disk faces cover the floor, like fallen leaves

A lonely space for contemplation

A memorial garden, with olive trees growing from the top of tall stellae

Like the ROM Crystal, it's the little details that drive me crazy - like this staircase of industrial metal (nice enough) next to drywall (big problem) - so unsuited to the wear and tear of multiple visitors - a public building like this needs more durable finishes!

I think the fish is more excited to meet Mark than vice versa

Playful octopus

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