Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Day At the Museum

 I've always loved a good museum...there's something really magical to me about a large space that contains created works of art, that everyone around you came to view and observe and ponder just as you did. (At least that's the idea.)

And I'm especially a sucker for a museum that is situated in a beautiful space, Dia: Beacon comes to mind. (What?! You live in New York City and you've never gotten on the train to visit this museum?? Ooooh, start googling and go before I really give you grief.)

So needless to say I was happy as a fat kid with a candy bar during our visit to San Jose yesterday. My sweet Julia read about the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design and promptly decided that our first day should be spent there. Told ya she was sweet...

The Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo is situated on the former site of the old national liquor factory, founded in 1856. This site is situated in a historical zone of downtown San Jose and it is valued as one of the most important architectural and heritage sites in Costa Rica. (Look at that, you might actually learn something here...)

The building itself is amazing -- huge old wooden beams provide for a cathedral-like feeling atop all of the art. It struck me as so cool that such an old and historical place would house such contemporary art. I do love a ceiling with wooden beams...

To be honest, another one of my favorite parts of the space was...the bathroom. I've always thought that the small nature of bathrooms lend themselves to such amazing design opportunities -- and these folks clearly agree.

The bathrooms were in another part of the building that was made of stone. Parts of the ceiling had been plastered over that resulted in a blank canvas...ready to be painted. An artist had covered the ceiling with bright, colorful painting.


The contrast between the cold stone and the bright color of the paint was awesome, especially with the ceilings being over twenty feet high.

The first exhibit was particularly interesting for us. It was all about a campaign designed to re-integrate Costa Rican colloquialisms into everyday language. The campaign was displayed here to demonstrate the most recent tendencies within contemporary design in the Central American region. 


With the rise of American culture being infiltrated into Central American society, this campaign is designed to promote original phrases: i.e. instead of 'super cool', using 'tuanis'.

While I thought this exhibit was cool simply because of the design elements, sweet Julia loved it because it gave her valuable insight into this culture...which will be particularly helpful in her translation process.

Clearly, she was really into it. I took the below picture of her (still at the first exhibit, dutifully taking notes) after I had toured the majority of the other exhibits.

I loved seeing such a wide range of art represented -- especially cool was the fact that most of the artists were originally from Central and South America. Such an amazing example of the fact that art transcends language.
All exit signs should be this creative...

So much art represented in one space, but every aspect of the exhibit felt separate from the next.

Lovin' the wooden beams. This artist suspended stairs from the ceiling that transverse the gallery until they reach the floor.

This artist used a special magnifying glass to create this work. Each panel represented a different day of sunlight. The glass was placed at a special angle that allowed the sun to literally burn through the panel. It resulted in some amazing colors surrounding the burn marks.

After the museum, we had hoped to find a restaurant that we had read about...which proved to be quite the adventure since San Jose doesn't have any street signs. If you ask locals for directions, they'll tell you things like: "Oh, sure...that's right by the hospital. Take a left at the pharmacy, and then walk over the railroad tracks until you get to that park where the statue used to be. It's right there." So helpful. I'll take this moment to remind you that we don't have cellphones or google maps...

...but in the end, we had to rely on my sense of direction...and after much wandering, we made it. Best part of my lunch was clearly the coffee...

Gimme a museum and cinnamon cappuccino any day...and you've got one happy gal. 

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