The Bowers Museum, Santa Ana

I’ve been looking forward to the Bowers Museum for months now, ever since I first saw the current exhibits – Fabergé and Madeleine Albright’s “Read My Pins” collection – listed on the website.  We’ve been there once before, just before we left for Berlin, but I don’t know much about the place or how it came upon two such wonderful exhibits, but I’m very glad. It gave us a chance to have a “normal” day.

The exhibits were the perfect size – just big enough to feel we really saw something, but not too much for S. And, of course, she was very in favor of seeing all of the “jew-wuh-wee.”

As you can see, she even wore some of her own.

This was my favorite, the Empress Josephine tiara, commissioned for her as a present by the Tsar Nicholas II upon her divorce from Napoleon.


Despite the many carats and colors of enamel, this was still S’s absolute favorite part of the museum…


of course.

Berlin, du fehlst mir: Die Gemäldegallerie

One of our saddest good-byes was to one of my favorite places in Berlin: Die Gemäldegallerie, Berlin’s collection of Old Masters. Not only are we leaving my beloved Cranachs behind, but the gallery is also leaving its current home in Kulturforum to make way for a new collection of modern art. Or, to reunite the masterpieces with the Bode-Museum, their pre-war home. It depends on how you feel about the move, whether or not you are as heartbroken as I am that these gorgeous paintings will be hidden away in storage for an as yet unknown period of time.

Here’s my little S examining a nude by Lucas Cranach der Ältere…

“Oh, She have a belly button and a baby” and why is she naked S, ” ‘cuz she go take a shower!”

And my favorite of all, Cranach’s “Fountain of Youth…”

und ich auch! Auf Wiedersehen mein Lieblingsmuseum und auf Wiedersehen Berlin!

noch einmal

We went back for more matzoh and t-shirt decorating.

S remembered everything from two weeks ago. She walked right up to table, grabbed a stool, and asked for a bowl.

She was much more interested in baking than eating, so Mom and Dad got a yummy snack while she attacked a t-shirt with paint pens.

We ended the morning with a picnic lunch in the museum’s garden. A pretty nice day if you ask me.


“Sinosaur” is S-speak for “dinosaur” and since its a word we’ve been hearing a lot around here, we thought it was the perfect time to head back to the Museum für Naturkunde.

I don’t know if you can tell, but she is terrified in the above picture. Maybe she expected them to look a little more like the cute characters in this Sandra Boynton book?

A brief moment of bravery

It probably didn’t help to tell her that these were dinosaur bones and that bones are inside your body. That became an especially horrifying concept when we walked into the special exhibit on elephants, her favorite animal. At first S refused to accept that the pile of bones had anything to do eith an elephant. It just wasn’t an elephant. “No Elephant! No ELEPHANT!” she shouted shaking her head. Then, eventually she started asking, “Mama, Mama, elephant ok? Elephant happy?” while blowing it kisses to make it better.

It was just too much. So much, that I think we’ll stick with the zoo for a few more years.

A Morning with Gerhard Richter


I would like to say that S was really interested in the Richter panarama at the Neue Nationalgalerie, but after the first few squeegee paintings (ohhhh, pink! well-oh!), she lost focus. You know, ’cause she’s two.

That’s when this tube of lip balm proofed particularly handy.


And when that failed, there was always the iPhone.


In the end, I didn’t get to look as closely at everything as I would have wished to and we didn’t even make it to the permanent collection, but I’m still glad we went and we can always go again. A few people even mentioned how cute S was, which was weird and obviously those people were not Berliners. Luckily, a museum docent came by to disparage me over S’s clothes. Wouldn’t want to feel too confident parenting my own child! Thanks Berlin!

Obviously I can’t stay focused either.

The Neue Nationalgalerie is part of the Kulturforum, [former] West Berlin’s Museuminsel substitute. The building was designed by Mies van der Rohe, something that cannot be fully appreciated with the current special exhibition, which has taken over the ground floor. Still very much worth it. I’m hoping to go back soon!

my little valentine

We spent Valentine’s Day at the Neues Museum. It was a bit of an impulse – we were headed to the Alte Gallerie  (wild, I know) – and were so glad we went. Its gorgeous!

Jon and I had never been to the Neues Museum; although, we did see parts of the Egyptian Museum in its temporary home before the renovations to the Neues were complete. The museum is usually only viewable with timed tickets – something I, as a mother of a small child dread. At the very least I can judge her mood RIGHT NOW. How can I tell if a museum visit will be a good idea in another hour or two or three? February in Berlin, however, is pretty devoid of tourists. We were able to walk right in (after flashing our Jahreskarten PLUS, natürlich).

The building was heavily damaged in WWII and only reopened in 2009. The restoration was my favorite part of the visit (Shoshi delcaring Nefirtiti to be “orange pretty” is a very close second!). The architect, David Chipperfield, did a beautiful job using the damaged sustained by the building. Photography is verboten in the most stunning rooms and I forgot my camera, anyway. The photos we did get were taken with Jon’s iPhone.

For the moms and dads out there, the Neues Museum has been the most stroller-accessable of  any of the museums we’ve been to so far. There are ramps up to the front door and large (very large! by american standards large!)  elevators with buttons at toddler height. Sometimes the only way to get S to leave a floor was to tell her that we needed to go press the buttons. The docents were mostly unobtrusive. In some museums, you can tell that they’re ready to pounce on the slightest provocation, but not here.

This is definitely going to the top of my list as one of my favorite ways to spend a morning in Berlin. Visit the Staatliche Museen site for more info on visiting here.

a stop at Marc Ann’s

When Jon was taking classes at the Humboldt, he used to stop in here before class for a schoko muffin and despite the fact that this is a french cafe with many wonderful french pastries and tarts, that schoko muffin remains a favorite.

And we’re not the only ones who think so. You better get to Marc Ann’s early if you want to get your hands on one. We missed out on our last visit, but even if we did get one, I doubt it would have lasted long enough to snap a picture. Do you see that little girl in the header? A  chocolate eating machine.

Other than the sweets, Marc Ann’s doesn’t offer much for our toddler. The menu mostly consists of sandwiches and crêpes – she won’t touch sandwiches or cheese – but its a really nice place to stop on your way to the Naturkunde Museum or maybe the Hamburger Bahnhof. There’s also a little corner in the back with some toys and a low table for the kinder.

Below you can see my usual, bagutte de thon (de-corned). The apple and brie baguette is also really good (how can it not be? Its covered in brie).  

Marc Ann’s – Invalidenstr. 122, corner of Chausseestr. (Mitte)


an afternoon at the Pergamonmuseum

on the pergamon steps

Mshatta Palace from Jordan

Ishtar Gate from Babylon

The Pergamonmuseum, named after the greek alter in the first three pictures, is just an amazing place to visit. Huge pieces of ancient art and architecture, pieces I can’t even imagine building let alone relocating thousands of miles, make up the museum’s controversial permanent exhibit. As you can imagine, their countries of origin want them back. Can you blame them?

The Pergamon’s exhibit is absolutely kinderfreundlich.  Shoshana loved looking at and walking around the gates and mosaics. It probably caught her attention 100 times more than than a framed painting hung on a wall. For that reason alone, I say if you can only do one museum on Museuminsel with your kids make it this one. But. Yes, but its difficult with a stroller. The entrance is at the top of some relatively high stairs and while there is a wheelchair lift, I feel awkward using them. Jon and I carried her up in the stroller together. Not pleasant, but if you can do it the museum is worth it. There is a ramp into the “sub-basement” (that’s what the map calls it. Its sort of a vestibule) and an elevator up to the lobby. If you want to see the islamic art on the first floor (the Mshatta Palace is up there, as well as some tapestries and an amazing painted wood room that I can’t remember the name of), you’ll need to ask a docent who will when escort you to the service elevator. A little bit of an inconvenience, but again, so worth it.

Interested? Go here.