Outing: The Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Hapsburg Exhibit

20150509_113517A large building in Minneapolis south of downtown, the M.I.A. is a magnificent structure.  The outside looks like a great museum.  The inside is a maze of small rooms full of art from across the world and through the centuries.  I spent several hours walking through the halls.  Ancient statues, magnificent paintings, weapons and clothing and all sorts of memorabilia.  I’ll admit I didn’t go through every nook and cranny, and I probably could spend more time looking around and trying to enjoy the artwork.

The main reason I chose the M.I.A. for this month’s Outing goals was the Hapsburg exhibit that is ending soon.  The Hapsburg’s were one of the great royal families of Europe, ruling various countries from the 13th Century until World War I, most notably as Holy Roman Emperors, Kings of Spain, and rulers of Austria.  Their prominence and longevity allowed the family to amass a large and significant amount of artwork.  When their last throne, the Austro-Hungarian empire, dissolved at the end of World War I,  their museums in Vienna were taken over by the subsequent republic and preserved.

The artwork of every item in the exhibit was amazing.  The plate mail worn by some of the Emperors had more than a hundred pieces and could be configured for foot, horse riding, or jousting as necessary.  Ornately designed rifles for hunting, including monocles built in for the older emperors.  Painting of great scope, clothing with ornate finery, carriages and sleds.  All of it expensive and beautiful.

Two items that struck me most were paired together.  They were a coconut and a large conch shell, both set into decorated stands (of what I presume are gold).  It struck me that hundreds of years ago, a coconut on a gold stand was a symbol of prestige.  Who else could afford it?

The Hapsburg exhibit is closing soon, hopefully moving on to a new city.  I am looking forward to future exhibits at the M.I.A.

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