The excitingly designed Harbourside concert hall by architects Behnisch & Partners was set to do for Bristol what the Guggenheim had done for Bilbao. A shameful Arts Council decision cut the funding and the project has never been revived. With this turn of events At-Bristol, with its stunning all-reflective planetarium, became the centrepiece of the Harbourside development. The centre mixes art, science and nature. It includes an Imax cinema, the interactive 'Explore' science museum and 'Wildwalk', a walk through a living section of rainforest.
Harbourside, BS1 5DB;
tel: 0845 345 1235;
If you only do two things in Florence, make sure it's the Accademia to see David, and Piazzale Michelangelo which has one of the best views of the city.
Galleria dell'Accademia: Via Ricasoli 58-60, a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio; tel: 055 294 883;
Go see the former presidential palace that now houses the Museum of the Revolution. Inside are many exhibits solely dedicated to the revolution that took place in Cuba some 50 years ago. It is also the point at which Fidel Castro gave one of his famous speeches and the Americans conspired to shoot him.
Everyone knows about the queues to get in and that even an early arrival doesn't seem to help - all of the groups are there too, apparently. If you want to avoid paying extra to cut down on the waiting time, simply wait until mid-afternoon before going. We went at about 3.30 and waited for about 20 minutes in a rapidly moving queue. The Sistine Chapel was still packed but it was worth it for the attendants who repeatedly "shshshed" everyone and boomed "Silence!" in a deep cross-teacher voice. The ceiling is worth the neck-straining.
St Peter's Square - follow the signs;
These museums are worth a visit. Really enjoyed both and best of all - they are free entry!
Brighton Museum: Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, BN1 1EE
tel: + 44 (0)1273 290900;
Hove Museum: 19 New Church Road, Hove, BN3 4AB;
tel: 01273 290200;
One for the history buffs, starts with the Che story which is fascinating and moves on through Cuba's more distant history and onto today's achievements in farming, health care, etc. Outside they have the boat in which Fidel and Che sailed to Cuba along with the other rebels and a display of military vehicles which were used during the Bay of Pigs crisis.
You will need some time to go round the whole museum, 2-3 hours, but if you have an interest in the history of Cuba it's worth it.
Calle Refugio 1, entre Monserrate y Zulueta, La Habana Vieja;
It's a private townhouse designed in 1893 by Brussels' art nouveau architect Victor Horta. It has recently been renovated by cult cartoonist duo Schuiten & Pieters and opened to the public. It's situated in the Schaerbeek area, which is off most tourist maps (being just north/north east of Rogier station) but well worth visiting for the beautiful buildings alone, many of which have been built in art nouveau style and kept in excellent condition (or recently restored). What's more, there's hardly a tourist in sight!
The entrance fee for Maison Autrique is 5€. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and bank holidays.
266 Chaussée de Haecht, Schaerbeek, 1030 Brussels;
tel: 02 215 6600;
Accessible by tram: 92 & 93 (Saint-Servais), 90 (Robiano), or if the weather's nice, take the metro to Rogier and walk for 20-30 mins along Chaussée de Haecht;
It's a museum of traditional folk civilization. It is like a very big park with a forest and a lake and it's
amazing... you can find all the old houses from every part of Romania there, from windmills to old fisherman's house from the Danube Delta to the old house in the mountains, in Bucovina, Maramures and many other places.
Dumbrava Sibiului (Sibiu's Forest);
Free (although donations are encouraged and special shows cost) art gallery just west of downtown. Includes artefacts, textiles, and many schools of paintings, with good groups of Canadian and Quebecois pieces.
Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion
: 1380 Sherbrooke Street West;
Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion and Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion: 1379 Sherbrooke Street Pavilion;
tel: (514) 285-2000;
Nottingham’s a great place to visit. My top tip would be visit the infamous Nottingham Castle which today houses some art exhibitions. You can look over the entire city from the castle gardens. There’s even a chance to explore the secret caves of Mortimer’s hole which tunnel deep into the Castle Rock. After the exploration I recommend you recharge with a good pint at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Britain’s oldest inn which is just underneath the castle. Knights stopped off on their way to the crusades in the pub. It’s packed with atmosphere and history.
Nottingham Castle: Friar Lane, off Maid Marian Way, Nottingham;
tel: 0115 915 3700;
Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem: Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham;
tel: 0115 947 3171
Fascinating museum presenting the 500-year history and legacy of Britain's overseas empire. Bristol benefited immensely from the bad old days of Empire. The city, along with Liverpool, derived huge financial gain from its heavy involvement in the slave trade. The museum is housed in Brunel's original 19th century railway station. The grandly constructed Passenger Shed is a testament to what the riches of the world were once able to finance.
Station Approach, Temple Meads BS1 6QH;
tel: (0117) 925 4980
Brunel's iron clad steam ship stunned New Yorkers as she completed her maiden voyage in 1845 from Bristol to New York in just 14 days. After acting as a troop carrier during the Crimea War the ship was abandoned on the Falklands. It was salvaged in the 1980s and towed across the Atlantic and back up the River Avon to the dockyard where it had originally been built. Now fully restored, it's a museum. To stop the hull from rusting away it is kept in an impressively designed chamber where the humidity is the same as in the Arizona desert.
Great Western Dockyard,
Gas Ferry Road BS1 6TY
As one of Europe's premier aquariums Aquarium La Rochelle knows it has to impress the visitors who dish out 10 euros at the cashier. The aquarium will not disappoint. Spectacular stuff. You enter through an 'elevator' which simulates a ride deep into the sea. When you emerge you are in a tunnel surrounded by water. From there on in it gets better.
Open 365 days a year.
Situated walking distance from the Old Harbour and the Train Station.
Bassin des Grands Yachts - BP4
17002 La Rochelle
Tel: 33 (0)5 46 34 00 00
This is a Roman palace near the main square in Split (which also has a little cafe in it). There is a tower to climb up where you have fantastic views of the city, as well as being able to go underground and see the rooms that they have excavated. Well worth a look.
Look for the large tower and the main square - they are all within close distance from one another.
The tower's wonderful name Kiek in de Kok means, in Low German, "peep into the kitchen". Apparently soldiers in the tower used to be able to see into the kitchens of houses below it, hence the name.
The 118 ft (36 m) cannon tower was originally built in the 15th century as part of the city's defences. Its solid 13 ft thick stone walls proved invaluable during the siege of 1577 when Russian soldiers blasted a huge hole in the tower but could still not penetrate it or the city.
Now the tower contains an interesting museum relating to the defences of Tallinn and the various wars and sieges that the city, and tower, has witnessed. Exhibits include two cannons, which, like the tower, have great monikers "The Lion" and "Bitter Death". Along side these are some of the paraphernalia, such as a long loading stick, needed to work the cannons and quite in-depth descriptions of how cannons were loaded, fired and used. Indeed there is quite a lot of historical information given throughout the exhibition that can be a little overwhelming as you try to remember dates, wars, allies and enemies however, rather that than little or no information.
There is also a shiver-inducing representation of the Plague Doctor, all in black with a beaked hood - the beak was filled with medicinal herbs to try and ward off infection - and a stick for prodding and pointing.
On the top floor, where seagulls and pigeons perch in the windows, are some fantastic views of the city and beyond. It's easy to imagine the soldiers sitting up there trying to keep warm by the fire with just the birds for company.
A short walk from Alexander Nevsky Cathedral or Freedom Square.
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4.30pm closed Monday
The permanent exhibits are split into two groups, Estonian art from the 18th century until the end of World War II and Estonian Art from 1945 to 1991, the restoration of Estonia's Independence. Temporary Contemporary Art Exhibitions will represent the years after 1991.
A multitude of different styles and themes are represented, Romanticism and Expressionism in the 19th century/early 20th century, Nordic influences and explorations of National identity. There are some wonderful grotesque yet compelling works by a graphic artist, Eduard Wiiralt and examples of avant garde, modernism and pop art.
The post-World War II galleries are particularly interesting in showing how art and the artistic community in Estonia were effected by and reflected the Soviet era, from propaganda and reportage to being a tool of protest and disapproval.
As with many wide ranging exhibitions not everything will be to everyone's taste, however, it allows the viewer to see how art in Estonia has developed and been influenced and also provides a fascinating insight into the history of the country as seen through the eyes of its artists.
Take tram 3 to Kadriorg then a 10 minute or less walk
A short walk from Kadriorg Palace, where Estonia's Foreign Art Collection is based, is KUMU (standing for Kunsti Muuseum - Art Museum), home to Estonia's National Collection.
The building, designed by Finnish architect Pekka Vapaavuori, is almost a work of art in itself. The modern design blends in well with its surroundings and does not seem out of place in an area that includes a number of older, more traditional buildings. The building seems to spring naturally from the ground, there is a very organic feel to it and looking at pictures of the design it appears as if care has been taken to integrate the building materials i.e. glass/concrete etc.. with the physical elements of the land around it. I would have liked to pursue this further by walking around the outside of the building but, sadly, the snow -beautiful as it was - made this impossible.
Inside the building reminded me, at times, of the Tate Modern in London with walkways looking over open spaces and a central hall from which the galleries led off. I liked the curving walkways and staircases, mirroring the curve of the building, the sense of space and also, particularly in the galleries, the sense of airiness.
The museum also includes an education centre and while we were there a number of groups of children were also being guided round. Looking for certain details in a picture, sitting discussing an exhibit, basically getting involved with art and communication.
The museum brochure indicates that it wishes to create a "congenial atmosphere" in which to show art, that it wishes to appeal to a wide range of people, whose interest in art spans from well versed to nascent. And that it can be a place where "diverse ideas emerge and develop". They certainly seem to have achieved the first, are doing all they can to promote the second and, I hope, will progress and expand the third.
Take tram 3 to Kadriorg then a 10 minutes or less walk
Take a walk about 10 minutes from the city centre to Fitzgeralds Park, a lovely park on the banks of the Lee. Here also you will find the Cork Museum with a riverside cafe in its recent extension. There are lovely views of the gardens of grand houses in the Sundays Well district, sweeping down to the banks of the river. And there’s a well-stocked playground for the kids.
Cork Public Museum, Fitzgeralds Park;
Tel: 021 4270679;
Set in a beautifully restored 16th century mansion, the Museum of Edinburgh is the city’s principal museum of local history. It has period rooms and reconstructions that depict Edinburgh's proud industrial heritage. The museum has important collections of glass and Scottish pottery.
142 Canongate, Royal Mile
Tel: 0131 529 4143
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