Here I am again, playing catch-up... Between Thanksgiving and New Years we visited not one, and not two, but three museums. All three experiences were so interesting that I feel compelled to post about them.
The weekend of Thanksgiving, we made our way to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It was our chosen destination because we wanted to see an exhibit displaying original artwork by the author & illustrator of the Curious George books -- Margret & H.A. Rey. Not only were the drawings and illustrations lovely to look at, the story of Margret & H.A. Rey was amazing. Hours before the Nazis marched into Paris in June 1940, the Reys fled on bicycles, carrying drawings for their children’s stories, including one about a mischievous monkey. Not only were they able to save the drawings, but the Reys themselves were saved by their illustrations when authorities found them in their belongings. After their escape from Paris and a four-month journey across France, Spain, Portugal, and Brazil, the couple reached New York in the fall of 1940. In all, the Reys wrote and illustrated over 30 books, seven of them starring Curious George.
After immersing ourselves in the world of Curious George for an hour, we trundled upstairs to see what we would see... And what we saw sent me reeling back to a wonderful book I read several months ago called Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling. The book follows the story of a family of Jewish art dealers through World War II and the aftermath. Although the book is fiction, it's well researched and chronicles the history of how millions of pieces of art work were methodically stolen by the Nazis. Some of the artwork was destroyed, but most of it was warehoused against grandiose plans Hitler had for displaying the art. After the war, very little of the artwork was returned to the owners; Governments absorbed the artwork into their own national collections, and even now, families are still trying to recover their lost collections.
The paintings in this exhibit are from one of the largest collections to be returned to the family from which it had been stolen. The collection was primarily made up of Dutch Masters, which were lovely. However, for me, the artwork paled next to the terrible, sad story of all the artwork which was stolen, much of it, still missing.
Wednesday: Part 2 -- Our adventures at the De Young Museum (Hooray for the Impressionists!)