Why do the French museums want me to be a student?

May 2, 2009 at 7:50 pm (architecture, international, review)

I’m not a student and I left my old student IDs at home, so I was fully prepared to pay the regular adult admission price at all the museums in Paris.  But at two museums, a significant fraction of the total # of museums that I went to, even though they asked me if I was a student and I said no, they still gave me the student price.  Why is that?

Some of the non-standard Parisian museums I recommend are the Musee Pasteur and La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (architecture museum).  The setup could use a lot of improvement at the Musee Pasteur, but I wound up learning a ton about Pasteur anyway.  Man, he did a lot!  Do you think that if I were doing science 100 years ago, I could have made more discoveries than doing science now?

Musee Pasteur

Musee Pasteur

I’m not so into the old architecture (but if you are, they have lots of casts and replicas of old buildings and it’s pretty neat), but the modern architecture sections were done really well.


Model at the architecture musuem

The Musée du Parfum was okay and worth a stop (it’s free) if you’re around the Opera area.  I was expecting a museum full of stuff to smell, but it was mostly a bunch of objects related to perfume, mostly bottles, and a store where they try to sell perfume.


Empty bottles of scents that would have been fun to smell


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Happy Gingerbread House Season!

December 8, 2008 at 6:35 pm (architecture, cooking, dessert, food, new york city)

Wow, NYC is really into the whole holiday spirit thing.  They mean business here. Huge light displays sucking up electricity everywhere, chopping down big trees.  NYC might be the most Christmas-y place in the world, or at least for the modern consumerism Christmas.  I’m torn about it… stuff makes me grouchy.  And crowds make me grouchier.  By the way, don’t go near Rockefeller Center in December.  If you are going from point A to point B and the shortest path goes through Rockefeller Center, don’t do it.  You’ll run into a bunch of people who don’t move because they don’t have room AND they don’t know where they’re going.  It’s easier if you make a big loop around it.  So that all sounds bad, but a lot of the decorations are quite pretty.  Sparkly lights are appealing.  And at least some places use LED lights.

Sign says "No Standing" but it was so crowded that standing was the only option.

Sign says "No Standing" but it was so crowded that standing was the only option.

My sister and I tried to see the tree on the night of the lighting.  We figured we had nothing better to do so we might as well go.  Spectacular mistake.  They had the sidewalks blocked off and you couldn’t go directly to Rockefeller Plaza.  There was some secret way, but we never figured it out and no one would say.  We just kept running into dead ends.  I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

The one thing that I’m least conflicted about is gingerbread houses!  I haven’t made one this year.  Yet.  But I thought I’d reminisce about the Gingerbread House of Christmas Past.  Made by me and my sister Da.  I’m the baker.  She’s the structural engineer.

Eco-gingerbread house

Eco-gingerbread house

Yes, those are solar panels.  And a living roof… we had this baby before the California Academy of Sciences.  And a gingerbread Prius.

Back of the eco-gingerbread house

Back of the eco-gingerbread house

The full album (includes photos of the planning and construction stages)

If NYC’s Christmas is way more Christmas-y than SF’s Christmas, does that mean I have to make a way more Christmas-y gingerbread house?

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My new favorite building: Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC

October 3, 2008 at 5:40 am (architecture, review, san francisco, travel, washington dc)

The curves and textures and colors are so beautiful.  Yum.  And they’re going for a natural/organic look, but it doesn’t look overdone.  The interior is also breathtaking:

These photos aren’t mine.  Click on the photos to link to the original sources.  But pictures don’t do it justice.  This is the sort of thing you have to experience in person.  Fortunately, once you get yourself to DC, entrance into the museum is free!

As you can see, the interior is mostly a vast open space.  So there are very few exhibits and they’re quite small.  All the exhibits are displayed beautifully, but it’s not really done in a way for you to learn much.  I think the idea is for you to look at the forms and colors and textures and shapes and walk away with an appreciation of their beauty.  There was one exhibit on living native peoples that had more “educational” content, but that was done in the exact opposite way – too much information!  The gallery on the 1st floor has a lot of amazing pieces of pottery.  I was drooling.

Here are other previous favorite buildings (again, click on photos to get to original source):

San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, especially at night –

Interior of the SF MOMA

Getty Museum in LA –

I’ve only seen the outside of the new California Academy of Sciences building.  I left SF before it opened to the public.  But I’m sure I’ll love that too –

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