Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History

Like the children who came before and after me, I, too, went through a dinosaur phase — an obsession with toys, comic books, movies, novels and archaeological journals related to the clade of vertebrates Sir Richard Owen established as “Dinosauria” in 1842. Theirs was an entire alien world that could coexist simultaneously in the past and the present, the imagination and reality. And what better place to be immersed in the irrefutable, fossilized evidence of the Mesozoic Era than the cathedral of “Dinosauria” devotion, the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

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Fairy Tale Fashion at the Museum at FIT

Growing up as a fashion-crazed girl in Malaysia was like being a bread lover with celiac’s.  So when I moved to the United States to go to college, I couldn’t wait to indulge my fashion proclivities.  I happily rocked plaid miniskirts with matching sweaters a la Clueless (I realize I’m probably dating myself here), when one day I overheard a classmate snidely remark, “So nice of her to dress up for class.”  Then I started working, and the whole idea of an office wardrobe beckoned, so inspired by the power suits of Dynasty and Working Girl (okay, dating myself again here), I enthusiastically traded my plaid miniskirts and sweaters in for pencil skirts and tailored jackets.  A colleague rolled her eyes and stated, “I don’t understand why people dress up for work.”  

Time and again I was made to feel like the girl in the ballgown at the ballgame.  I understood that for most people, clothing was simply meant to be functional.  But for me, it always felt like an opportunity to be creative, albeit on a different type of canvas.  I was enthralled with the myriad colors, shapes and textures to choose from.  I was enamored with the way a piece of clothing could take you to a different place and time.  I marveled at the designers who created wearable art, and I yearned to bring a piece of that world into mine.  Fashion was aspirational:  it was a bridge between the the life I wanted and the life I had.  

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Pixar: The Design of Story at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

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It’s Sunday. An unseasonably warm morning in December. And, regrettably, you’ve neglected to make reservations for brunch. Suddenly, the grim specter of laundry, errands and preparations for the upcoming workweek threaten to hasten the conclusion of your weekend. What to do? Sure, it’s not quite an existential crisis but it’s a serious dilemma, nonetheless. Fortunately, you have New York City at your disposal, with its staggering abundance of cultural institutions and historical sites. With a quick search, you note that one such institution, Cooper Hewitt, the nation’s preeminent design museum, offers an intriguing lineup of programs and exhibitions. And, voila, you have something on your Sunday agenda.

“The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.”  – John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios

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Meet Adele Bloch-Bauer…twice

The 2015 movie Woman In Gold starring the magnificent Dame Helen Mirren is based on the true story of a woman who takes on the Austrian government in an effort to recover family paintings seized by the Nazis.  Meet the movie’s other leading lady: Adele Bloch-Bauer.

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Photo courtesy of Neue Galerie

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Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars at The Morgan Library & Museum

Ask any English Lit major if they have a take on Authorial Intention/Authority, and they’re bound to have a well-articulated and robust opinion. They may say the author or the author’s experiences or both are immaterial, or they may say they are absolutely essential to the understanding and enjoyment of a literary work. Even if you have an opinion, and regardless of what that opinion happens to be, you’ll likely find the collaboration between the Morgan Library & Museum and the John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum – the first major exhibition devoted entirely to Ernest Hemingway – fascinating. Spanning the author’s life, but primarily focused on the periods of the first and second World Wars, the exhibit beautifully articulates the connection between the author and his experiences, both as inspiration for his writing and detriment to his sanity. Among the treasure trove included in the exhibit are manuscripts and transcripts of his major novels, as well as correspondence from such notable literary figures as Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck. There’s even wartime correspondence from none other than J. D. Salinger, in which he begins his missive with the cheeky salutation, “Dear Papa”.

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