Field Trip Day 4-15-2018 : King Tut Exhibit @ California Science Center

Hi it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything about my day trips.  Before I would put up bunches of pictures, now I have compiled it into a nice little video which will be whole lot easier to view rather than scrolling down through each and every individual pics.  I guess this is what you would call a vlog.  ūüôā

As a bonus I’ve also included scenes of the space shuttle Endeavor, which as you know in 2012 it made massive headlines as it was transported from the east via a piggyback ride on a Boeing jet and then towed through the treacherous streets of L.A. neighborhoods (not to mention a mob of enthusiastic SoCalifornians waiting to take their selfies beside the massive hunk of steel and aluminum).  It currently sits pretty inside of a temporary hangar as it awaits its new room that’s being built (date of completion unknown).

Hope you enjoy!

Last Saturday after hearing about the special exhibition from the Vatican Museum of Rome, Italy, to be held at the Ronald Reagan Library, I made the daring trip to the location in Simi Valley, barely conquering the infamous 5 North freeway.  I arrived at around 11:30 am to find the main parking lot is packed and I had to park at the foot of the hill where the building is actually located.  Luckily they had free shuttle service around the clock to take us up those treacherous hills and along the way got a scenic view of the city, which, sadly, is in dire need of rain, just like the rest of Southern California still weighed down by the severe drought, no thanks to the El Nino of course.

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The shuttle let us off at the front of the library’s entrance, entering through a lush courtyard.  We had to wait in line to enter the lobby, where the ushers let patrons in one by one.  It felt like the line at a Disneyland ride.  The best thing is to preorder the tickets online, which I did, and with the helpful discount from ABC7, and that line goes much faster.

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The line for the Vatican exhibit began just outside of the lobby opposite of the entrance, and and learned it would be at least an hour before I would get to set foot inside the gallery.  An hour!  Did I mention it was like a Disneyland ride?  Before getting in line for that painful wait I decided to take a quick stroll around, walking on what is the replica of the White House’s South Lawn, and down the wiggly path that would lead to the burial site of the 44th President and his wife, who had passed away just earlier this year.  The garden also featured an actual piece of the infamous Berlin Wall that was dismantled during his presidency marking the end of the divided Germany and beginning of a more democratic state.

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Afterwards I head on over to the line, seeing that it has grown in the last fifteen minutes.  The line moved at a snail like pace eventually leading back into the main lobby and to the left was the entrance to the gallery exhibit, the same place that would lead to the permanent collection of all things Reagan, including the authentic Air Force One (more on that later).

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Finally an hour later I made it into the Vatican gallery.  It was dark and narrow, and adding the mass crowd, I was in for a slow ride down the collection of some of the finest artifacts ever brought from the Vatican Museum.  Since I don’t know when I’ll ever get to travel to Italy I might as well get a taste of it here on US ground, where it’s cheaper and little safer than actually traveling there, considering the constant threat of terror attacks that has ravaged  much of Europe in the past years since 9/11.  The exhibit chronicles the rich history of the Vatican and its influence on world religion, and prominently features artifacts related to the traditional Catholic religion, such as the tomb fragments of the well known martyrs like Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the arts depicting popular Biblical scenes (made by famous artists such as Michaelangelo and Bernini), items and ceremonial attires used in the Catholic masses exclusive to the Vatican, and portraits and sculptures of over 500 Popes that have served throughout history, up to the present pope, Francis I.  Most notable of the popes is John Paul II, who has had diplomatic ties with Reagan during his presidency, and it is prominently presented here (click on each image for bigger picture).

After about 40 minutes I finish the exhibit and the exit lead through the Gift Shop, though I didn’t really buy anything.  I make a U turn back into the main lobby and head to the exhibit hall again, this time to the Reagan exhibit.  The gallery was well planned, chronicling the President’s life from his humble beginnings in his Illinois birthplace, to his service in the Army, to his stint as a Hollywood actor, to his charting down the political road first as governor of California and to the steps of the White House where he served two terms engaging in many noted historical events such as the American Recession of the 80s, the Cold War, the threats of Communism, and surviving an assassination attempt. The exhibit includes an actual replica of the Oval Office where Reagan did most of his presidential work.

There was also an exhibit dedicated to the First Lady, Nancy Reagan, and her unique contribution to the president’s term in the office, included with the Reagans’ White House memorabilia.  They even included some memorial keepsakes from her funeral that was held at the Library earlier this year.

Afterwards I was led down a hall toward a huge hangar-like structure where the Air Force One was parked, along with the Marine One chopper that seem so paltry beside the much gargantuan aircraft.  You get to walk through a short hall of documentation of the Air Force One’s history and its itineraries during Reagan’s tenure.  From there there was another long line to enter the interior of the aircraft, a rare chance to get up close and personal inside the President’s famous mode of transportation.

Exiting at the tail end of the Air Force One led downstairs to display of the President’s motorcade and the Marine One chopper, which also had a line but I didn’t care much for, I’m sure it would pale in comparison to Air Force One.  Hungry after nearly four hours of walking and sightseeing I decide to grab a quick bite over at the Ronald Reagan Bar& Café that sells sandwiches and beers and other usual café delicacies.  And oh, I almost forgot, Reagan loved jellybeans, so you’ll be sure to find a bag or two of these chewy sweet treats courtesy of Jelly Belly.

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After I finish downing a half sandwich and a Snapple (I contemplated getting a bottle of beer but then I had to drive back home) I walked back up to the second floor and was surprised to learn the exhibit was far from finished.  It was another twenty minute walkthrough to what was the later part of Reagan years, from his retirement to his love for horseback riding and ultimately to his battle with Alzheimer’s disease that would take him on June 5, 2004.  I remember watching the live telecast of his funeral procession; all highways were closed off for his motorcade to pass to the final resting place here at the Library.

Unfortunately the Vatican exhibit will close on the eleventh of this month September (originally it was slated to close on Aug. 28, which was the day that I went, but luckily for me they had extended it), so if you read this now and are interested you should blaze on out there and catch the magic of the Vatican before it vanished forever. ¬†And be sure to preorder the ticket online at¬†www.reaganfoundation.org/¬†for easier access. ¬†I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, as I did; and even if you do miss the Vatican exhibit there’s plenty of other stuff there to see. ¬†The photos above don’t nearly do justice and I know some came out rather scratchy; I can’t help but blame the fast moving crowd for it.

Until next time…

Anime Expo (or AX for short) is the largest convention of animation¬†and manga from Japan held in the US. ¬†You can say it’s like the Comic-Con of Japanese pop culture. ¬†It started in the Northern California and later moved down to the Southern California in 1991, where it has resided since. ¬†It has been held in numerous locations, notably Anaheim, Long Beach, and currently in Los Angeles. ¬†The convention is held annually in 4-day event during the summer of July with number of smaller relative counterparts¬†held all across America, and boasts of tens of thousands of attendees who are anime and manga enthusiasts. ¬†The convention hosts myriads of activities and events related to manga and anime such as seminars, product demos, panel discussions with special guests, and contests. ¬†The most notable is the Costume Masquerade, where attendees dressed as their favorite characters parade in their creations and compete for prizes. ¬†It is also a gathering ground for vendors selling anime-related merchandises, artists both amateur and professional who want to showcase and sell their works, and companies that seek to promote their products like video games and films.

I used to be into anime and manga, but so many years have passed since I’ve abandoned it for other interests, and I’ve always wanted to check out the convention, mostly for the folks from all walks of life dressed in colorful costumes. ¬†I’ve realized that so much have changed and there are new animes that I’ve not heard of, and saw how old I’ve become. ¬†There were few familiar sites here and there but it seems the magic I used to harbor for anime has long sailed away. ¬†Nevertheless I wanted to take a stroll and observe, and probably won’t hang around for seminars or Q&A sessions with special guests and celebrities (I don’t really know them anyway). ¬†The admission closes at 6 pm but the events inside can go on past midnight. ¬†And also because this is the 10th anniversary of the Expo (in addition to being a Fourth of July weekend and an opening day) things are going to be especially crowded. ¬†But I saved myself the headache of LA traffic and parking nightmares by taking the mighty Metro.

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From the Metro station on Pico is a brief walk to the LA Convention Center.  This is the view of the South Hall entrance, and you can already see the crowd amassing at the entrance.

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I preordered my one-day badge in May (which saved me $15 off the admission at the door) but I still had to wait in line to pick it up at the front.  It took a while to find the end of the line, as you can see here, and this is only the fraction of it.  Thank God for the white awning.

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The line moved in zigzags like for a line at a Disneyland ride. ¬†I’m like almost halfway there…

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And it’s still going. ¬†I have to say it was a good 1-hour wait. ¬†Like a stop-and-go traffic on the 405 freeway. ¬†At least the shade saved me and hundreds of others the agony of sunburn.

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Finally I make it inside the main hall to pick up the badge, then have to go outside again through a different entrance for the bag check (luckily this time they just gave us a free pass).  It was about a little past 12 and already the whole building was boiling.

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There were plenty of photo opps left and right with large statues like this dinosaur, as well as with the costumed staff and fans.

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There were bizarre, and then there was this bizarre. ¬†Obviously its a nod to that popular MINECRAFT games. ¬†It’s a wonder the guy can actually move inside this stack of cardboards.

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Here is inside the exhibit hall.

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Some familiar sights, like this classic Dragon Ball Z , which still to this day has a devoted cult following of astronomical proportions.  Sorry I realized lot of the pictures came out pretty blurry.

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Some tidbits of the items up for grabs for cool bucks. ¬†It’s not just limited to anime, it turns out.

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As cool as this is, sorry it’s not for sale.

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Plushies galore!

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I’m sure ever since the WALKING DEAD the sales of samurai swords (the favorite weapon of the series character Michonne) has skyrocketed. ¬†There are even replica swords from the insanely poular GAME OF THRONES series. ¬†(On side note, the swords are quasi-real, made of stainless steel; I’m not sure how sharp they are if you can actually cut someone in half).

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Something about ear cleaning. ¬†Don’t know how it’s supposed to work, and I didn’t care for it to try.

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Legos!

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Here is one of numerous video game demonstrations throughout the convention floor.  This one features the use of VR Gear.

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Another photo opp with a giant spider woman.  Ech, I hate spiders.

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Most of the time I’d just get shots of the costumed peeps from the sideline, but few times I did manage to get the courage to ask nicely some people for a photo shoot.

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Right below the exhibit hall is the Kenitia Hall that holds the Artist Alley. ¬†Here you get to meet some artists, both professional and amateur, showing off their creations. ¬†To be honest, they weren’t all that impressive.

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Now you best look twice before asking one of these ladies out for a date.  ^_^

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After about an hour I take a brisk walk across to the West Hall shown here.

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Here in the Entertainment Hall there are some setups of arcade games where you can burn some of your hard-earned quarters.

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Ah, this brings back old memories. ¬†If I tried to jump on this thing now I’d probably have a heart attack.

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For the car junkies.

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Bang-Zoom! Entertainment is a talent agency for voice actors in movies, cartoons, and anime. ¬†Here¬†they are having a mini-audition for aspiring voice actors. ¬†I didn’t need to sit through it, I could hear it throughout the hall as I’m exploring other sites. ¬†Some are tear-jerkers (and it’s not in a good way).

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Here is a section where anyone can test their artistic skills.

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I left a few scribble of my own. ¬†It ain’t pretty, but that’s because I totally jumped in on a whim, without any idea what I wanted to draw beforehand.

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There is a section called the Cosplay Photo Booth where attendees can take pictures on one of various backgrounds like the ones shown here.

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Yes accidents do happen, to the costumes that is. That is why there is a dedicated section with supplies included to allow attendees to makes some necessary repairs to their wearable creations.  In addition there are programs offered for those who are interested in taking part of the costuming madness as well.  Turns out some have made a profitable career out of dressing up.  Who knew.

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The crowd just don’t know when to stop do they.

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It was amusing to watch these two jiggling around.

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And there it is, my quick scan through of Anime Expo. ¬†I don’t have Fitbit so I don’t know how many miles I’ve walked that day, but I will say my legs were awful sore for few days. ¬†Only takeaway here was the memories and brief nostalgic trip down my childhood. ¬†If I could go back ten years and had some friends I’d try out the cosplaying business, and actually stay through all four days to get the full-on experience. ¬†Though they always say its never too late, I think I’m pretty much over anime thing to get back on it.

If any of you would consider taking part of this experience in the future you can visit this website and stay up to date on their future events.

http://www.anime-expo.org/

 

 

After months of waiting I finally nabbed the coveted ticket to the newly opened Broad Museum in Downtown LA, located right across an older cousin the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art). Opened in September of last year this new museum boasts of larger collection of modern post WWII era and contemporary art by legendary and current living artists made possible by generous support from its founders Eli and Edythe Broad, who are avid collectors. Admission is free but advanced reservation of the ticket is required; when I tried to get mine it was booked for good several months but I finally got in.

I decided to take the train to avoid the infamous LA traffic and save myself $20 of parking. I parked my car at the Norwalk Station, paid for one day pass for $7 and hopped on aboard. It would take two separate cars to get to my destination. The train speeds down the rail track in between the 105 freeway and I’m looking out the window to see the traffic already welling up at 10 in the morning. Someone has some really strong perfume on and I don’t like the smell at all; it’s like one of those incenses they burn at temples.

The train made its last stop on 7th and Flower in e heart of DT. From there I would have to walk several blocks up north of Grand Avenue, which is kind of painful considering it’s a steep climb.  But it makes for a nice stroll around downtown LA to take in more intimate closeup of the area as well as a good workout.




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I finally reach the peak of Grand Avenue, with the Broad in full view.  It sits pretty alongside the other cultural venues on the avenue including MOCA, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and Mark Taper Forum.

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After waiting in line for about half an hour after arrival they let us in by groups in which we made our reservations prior to the visit; in this case I was with the 11:30 group.  Just right time I say to avoid too much crowd (and on top of that it’s Wednesday).  I step inside the main lobby that looks like the inside of a cavern, they appropriately call it the Oculus Hall.

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There are three floors total; the second one isn’t much which I’ll get to later.  That escalator you see here goes straight up to the 3rd floor.

Here are some of the amazing works on first floor.  The most prominent one being the collection of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

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Some enclosed rooms feature multiple works of one artist, such as Murakami.  Here you will also see one of his largest and longest mural.

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Now I take the escalator up to the 3rd floor.  The ride up can feel a bit claustrophobic.

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And behold the main event of the visit.

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Of course there is an elevator and a standard walking staircase.

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Here are some pictures of artworks taken from the museum.  There are lot of recognizable ones representing various genres (Pop Art, Conceptual, Expressionism, Minimalism, etc.) by well-known artists like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger, and Kara Walker.  Now careful not to touch them, there are eyes watching.

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I found this piece particularly amusing.  It pretty much tells you plainly what you need to do in order to be ‘successful’ artist, course at the expense of your soul.

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I don’t think I need to explain this one.  ūüėČ

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I was really aiming for the large canvas on the wall, but this gold urinal just happened to sneak in view.

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Apparently the idea for this piece was inspired by the Alice in Wonderland story.

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Here is a small dark screening room where you can sit and watch artsy short films.

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Now the only way down is the elevator or this staircase which I’m taking now.

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One the way down you can catch a glimpse of the museum’s secret vault which harbors thousands of art still waiting to have its day in the limelight.  It is said the museum will unveil one new artwork to the gallery every week.

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The finale of the visit is this Infinity Lights Room by artist Yayoi Kusama, which you have to reserve a spot in line at the beginning (because it’s a long wait).  They let you in depending on number of parties per group for 45 seconds allowing you to be surrounded by millions of colorful lights reflected by mirrors, and the floor is covered in water, so they warn you not to step off the platform.

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And that was it.  Of course there are lot more than what I have put up here, it would be better for you to make the visit yourself.  For more information including directions and tickets (currently admission is free but gets booked fast so plan ahead-I don’t know yet if that will change or it will always be free) go to www.thebroad.org.  Also if you plan to take a car there instead of the train like I did take care public parking in DTLA is not cheap, though there is a valet available (also not cheap).  For public transportation option go to www.metro.net.

Located in Santa Ana, California, the Bowers Museum houses an eclectic collection of ancient cultural artifacts of Pre Columbian, Pan Asian, Pacific Islands, and early California paintings.  Named after Charles Bowers, who was a land developer in the 1800s the Mission Revival styled building was opened in 1931 and originally devoted to the history of Orange County.  In 1992 the museum reopened completely transformed into what it is now, a center for education and preservation of various cultures and especially ones that make up much of the fit today.

Since this is one of few museums closest to my home I’ve come here quite often, as they regularly hold many different special exhibitions annually.

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There are several entrances to the museum, but this is the main one, you can see it right off the road along Main Street.

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Enter through the Spanish style gate and walk up these steps to the main door.

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Beteween the gate and the main door is a nice lush courtyard where they sometimes hold oudoor cultural events such as concerts, bazaars and lucheon.

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Once you enter the door to your left is the museum’s diner that serves gourmet meals inspired by the cuisines of the Pacific Rim

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and right across the diner is a cozy little gift shop for the shopaholic of exotic toys

I pay my admission fee at the reception desk, about $13 general (there are discounts for seniors and students of course), and then I turn to the hallway on the left to begin my tour.

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This is who will greet you as you pass through the doorway of the hall. Dont worry he wont bite. ūüėČ

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A snapshot of the hall from the other end. Note the walls here are adorned with one of the museums permant collections-a series of highly detailed color temple paintings depicting Buddhist deities and mandalas by a Tibetan monk Shashi Doj Tulachand (if you can pronouce this name you are a genius).

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A couple of close up of the temple paintings by Shashi Doj Toulachand. It would take all painstaking day to read every one of its details .

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A Buddhist deity, dont know the name but you sure wouldnt want to cross him; I mean just look at those eyes…

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There are several rooms along this hallway reserved for special limited time exhibits, such as this upcoming show of real ancient Egyptian Mummies, which I sm highly looking forward to (oh I didnt tell you I was an Egyptology fanatic back in grade school…Ill have to tell u about it another time).

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At the end of this hall to the left is another hallway leading to more in house collections primarily of early Central American artifacts and California arts.

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Walking down this hall you will see cases of these delicate ceramic artifacts used to be buried with the dead, a common funerary practices in the ancient times. It can be oddly deformed idol figures…

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…decorative vases and jars…

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…and animals, such as this adorable Mexican Hairless canines.

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Fro the hall you will enter straight into a room with some more artifacts and a mural

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Now this is one of the special exhibits taking place in thr next room. This particular one features never before seen watercolor illustrations by renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera, based on the creation myth the Popol Vul.

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This rather narrow doorway leads to the Diego Rivera exhibit, but unfortunately theres no photo allowed. Inside this room leads to yet another room which is a screening room related to the said exhibit. Then exit that room…

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…and we are in yet another hallway, this time with its focus on early California Art. Walk down and enjoy some of these Impressionist-styled landscape paintings that attempt to capture the natural beauties of the Golden State.

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Every culture have their own renditions of the iconic Madonna and Child paintings.

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There is another room as you walk down the hall that feature artifacts of early native California Indians.

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At the end of this hall is this old carriage used in the early days of Orange County. Turn to the right…

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…and find yourself in this spacious room full of items from the Mission San Juan Capistrano archives. Here you will learn more about the history of California’s development and find out where the names of our favorite cities and streets of SoCal comes from…

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This is a portrait of the Englishman who helped to build Mission San Juan Capistrano: John “Juan” Forster

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Now when you exit that room and get back in the hallway you will find a stair leading up to a second floor with a balcony overlooking the room you were just in.

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And this floor features even more California Art, though you’ll find there was more than just pretty landscapes….

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The ceiling in this huge orange room features a mural much like that of the famous Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel mural, but here it depicts the early history of California. I only wished those lights weren’t such an eyesore…

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After making my way back to the receptions desk I head on the over to another hallway.  Now this hallway leads to a newly expanded wing of the museum completed in 2000 to make more room for other permanent collections that I will soon see.

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Walk down this foyer and you will come across this room, one of the newest additions along with the expansion, that regularly holds small limited time exhibits, such as this one about…

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…This pretty lady in gold, a mask of an Egyptian mummy. ¬†Now why only one mask here? ¬†Cause apparently scientists have made an extraordinary discovery inside this mask that will help identify the body more concretely. ¬†But really what is the point to learning the body’s identity, unless she’s somebody really famous…

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And now here we are in the new expanded wing of the musuem.

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This particular wing is dedicated to the Pacific Islander and Oceanic Art, as well as…

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…the Ancient Chinese arts.

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Now that’s a big doorbell.

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Next to that huge drum you saw earlier is a rotunda that leads to an auditorium where regularly they hold educational seminars and screen movies related to the mission of the museum.

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Now we shall enter the exotic world of Pacific Islander/Oceanic art-watch your heads.  (j/k)

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This permanent collection includes all the arts and cultural treasures of the many islands of the Pacific Coast. ¬†Believe it or not these are actual masks the natives wore for many of their ritualistic practices. ¬†I’d probably get squashed if I ever try one on…

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Totem poles, often depicting spirits or ancestors, and used to display that tribe’s status. ¬†

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I wouldn’t want to get stabbed by one of these…wait, what movie did I see that from?

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These are real human skulls.  It is common practice for the island natives to honor their dead by decorating their skulls.  

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Onward to the final exhibit-the arts of ancient China.

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Elephant tusk. ¬†Look at those details, every figure has its own personalities…

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A traditional scholar’s table

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This large panoramic photo shows the famous Terra Cotta Warriors statues found in the tomb in China.

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The Chinese have always been highly regarded for their beautiful delicate crafts in porcelain, bronze.

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Peace be with thee.. ¬†ūüėČ

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The traditional garments worn by Chinese nobles.  Note the intricate handiwork in those embroidery.

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It seems the Chinese also enjoy game of chess, but their version is much different from the Europeans.

Now after all that walk around the halls and rooms full of ancient treasures treat yourself to a nice relaxing rest in this lush courtyard.  Bask in the cool shades of the trees and listen to the sound of the water dribbling down the fountains.  That is, assuming there are no kids running around.

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For more information including upcoming events, directions, and other good stuff, go to:

http://www.bowers.org.