Saturday, June 30, 2012

At Home With Frank Lloyd Wright

I've been hanging around the periphery of the Frank Lloyd Wright fan circuit.  I've toured Taliesin East and West, his Oak Park home and neighborhood, Fallingwater, and the Guggenheim Museum.  I've read the two recent historical fiction accounts of his personal life along with anything else in the newspaper or preservation news.  And I've dream of seeing more of his work, noting in this blog a list of FLW homes that you can rent on vacation.

But here's something new.  A 2000 foot gallery opened on June 2 in the FLW designed SC Johnson Administration Building in Racine, Wisconsin.  (  The gallery will have rotating exhibits with FLW's "designs and artifacts, and will explore his influence on families and the American home".

The chief curator of the inaugural exhibition, "At Home With Frank Lloyd Wright, said it seeks to illustrate FLW "radical deviation from Victorian architecture by opening floor plans, connecting with nature, using natural materials and not hiding them with paint or wallpaper."

Sounds fabulous.  Best of all, I have to admit, they seem to have liked my blog title,
At Home With House Museums !

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hemingway Home and Museum

Key West, FL

Look at the line to get into this house museum!  I should have told them to forget it.  Go a mile and a half up the road to the Truman Annex.  That's worth the visit!

It's very unusual for me not to like a house museum.  In fact I can say I'm happy to have seen this one but mostly to cross it off my list.  But that's not saying much, is it?

What didn't I like?  It was all business and was it doin business! There were so many people visiting first thing in the morning that there was a line to get in.  My tour group members gathered in the dining hall.  As we moved about we were sometimes forced to take a different route because another group was already in the room we wanted to see or we waited single file for others to pass us so we could proceed into the room or up the stairs.  It's a compact home on standard lot and on most days I'll bet its overflowing with tourists.

And then there was the tour guide!  He has to be an underemployed or perhaps formerly employed actor.  The tour was really his opportunity to run his lines by us.  The Hemingway Home website has a little bio, just like in a playbill, on each tour guide.  I don't believe this was my guide but here's part of the bio on another guide: "describes himself as an "edutainer." His philosophy is that if he can touch as many lives as possible, however briefly, and have people smile, he is doing something worthwhile with his life. Joe would like you to know that he has completed over 6,000 public performances at the museum." 

And unlike most house museum guides our guide wasn't interested in our questions, either before or after his spiel.  But he was interested in tips!  He had an especially distasteful little shtick at the end of the tour when he asked for tips.

Actually a good question.  Should you tip house museum tour guides?  I don't believe I ever have.

a descendant of Hemingway's six-toed cat

Hemingway wrote many of his classics while living in Key West.  They include: Death in the Afternoon, Green Hills of Africa, To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Fifth Column.  This small second floor room in a smaller building at the back of the property is where he preferred to write early in the morning.