In my last post I mentioned my travel plans for the following year. At the top of my to do lists is to visit museums, art galleries, castles, and country houses when I am travelling abroad. I have been fortunate to visit some of Europe’s largest museums as well as some of the quirkiest museums. Read on for my top three museums that I’ve visited in mainland Europe!
The Fashion and Lace Museum, Brussels, Belgium.
I had the great fortune to visit Brussels in 2016 and happened across this wonderful museum. The museum tells the tale of Belgian fashion with an emphasis on the history and production of Belgian lace. When I visited in 2016 the main exhibition concentrated on mid-nineteenth century female fashion. There were full-length glass cases featuring day dresses, evening wear, children’s clothing, and several cases emphasizing the different sizes of crinolines ending in the largest skirts from the early 1860s being featured in several cases.
The highlight of the museum for me was the colour and variety of fabrics on display which dispelled the myth of high Victoriana being dreary and un-colourful. There were colours from all spectrums of the rainbow in fabric dyed with the new-fangled man-made dyes such as cerulean, turkey red, and emerald green made of cyanide! Additionally, they had adult sized crinolines and top hats to trying one which made me very happy indeed!
The Rijksmuseum is the home to the Dutch Masters such as Van Dyck and Rembrandt. Rembrandt’s, The Night Watch,’ is on display at the Rijksmuseum and to say it is a masterpiece is an understatement – it takes up an entire wall of one of the picture galleries with such an affect you think the figures will simply walk out of the painting!
The Rijksmuseum also has extensive decorative arts and social history collections with a strong emphasis on Dutch made fashions and textiles. As you can see the main theme of my visiting museums are mainly concentrated on fashion and social history museums I do also love visiting art galleries. The Rijksmuseum is an all-day affair as we spent the best part of ten hours in the museum there was so much to see!
Though there are several other museums in Amsterdam I found the shear breadth and depth of collections on display mesmerizing. I cannot wait to go back as Amsterdam is on my never, never, never, ending travel list!
The Pitti Palace in Florence is divided into four museums; a museum of costume, a modern art gallery, the collection of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, and an historic house museum. There are also stunning gardens which offer a stunning view over the city of Florence and the Tuscan halls beyond. As you probably can guess when I visited in 2016 I made a beeline straight to the fashion museum and was not disappointed with a display of Italian couture and court dress!
The grand setting of the Renaissance era palace offered a sumptuous background to the exquisite costumes with accompanying portraits or photographs giving historical context. Of particular interest was a cream silk Flapper dress with floor length blue velvet cape which was worn by an Italian princess in the 1920s. Not something you could dance the Charleston in but something to be admired for the beauty of the fabric and the skill that made it!
These are only three of the museums that I have been fortunate to visit and are but a fraction on my long bucket list of museums (yes I have a bucket list of museums I want to visit!). I hope to visit more this coming year and visit national and smaller museums alike to bring you more ideas for your next visit abroad!