Tuesday, October 19, 2010


On Sunday a friend suggested a day at the museum, prompting the recollection that the Bauhaus exhibit[link] had come highly recommended, spurring me to look it up online, all of which was precedent to my discovery that Sunday was, in fact, the last day the exhibit would be viewable. I already missed Bar 25, which closed in between IMs and whiny demurrals to the effect of "let's go next week," and I'd come close to repeating the error with this one, too. (I don't think I'm really getting the hang of this thing, whaddya call it, "being a grownup.") We arranged to meet at the front stairs (I'd never been there before but she assured me there's only one set of stairs, so there'd be no possibility of us waiting on the other at different locations) or, failing that, in the bookshop.

The conspiracy of a dozen little emergency meant I ran late, really to the point of inexcusably late. When I got there, there was indeed only one entrance visible, but I was hard pressed to call a staircase, instead (as you'd expect for what is, after all, the Bauhaus museum) a long winding ramp that seemed to approximate a mobius strip as much as a staircase. She was, natch, nowhere to be seen, so I entered and looked for the bookshop, hoping as I descended and got an impression of how vast the place actually was (and therefore how hard it'd be to find her if she'd already bought her ticket) that she had put up with my inexcusable tardiness and waited in the bookshop.

(She hadn't waited in the bookshop.)

Hoping against hope I checked the entrance again, then the bookshop again, then decided to take my chances that I'd find her on the inside. I asked the woman selling tickets if she'd perhaps seen a woman fitting the description of my friend.  

She looks at me like I'm putting her on.  No, she assured me; she hadn't seen anyone come in today.  I tried to get my surprise across in rudimentary German---I had been told this was such a great exhibition.  But then, I realized, looking around at the large, empty white walls that formed the entrance hall, perhaps this was one of those things that was quite cool for architecture buffs but dreary for everyone else.  I myself found the initial glimpses rather uninspiring; for a museum, there just was a bizarre lack of anything to look at.  I realized this might have played into the philosophy of functionality rather than ostentation that was really all I knew about the intellectual motives behind the architecture movement, but it just seemed a disappointingly restrained spectacle.  

After minutes of pursed-lipped confusion, the ticket-seller's face lit up with realization.  "Your friend; did she say she wanted to see the Bauhaus exhibit?"

As if there were a stupider question, I said to myself.  Yes, I told her, trying not to let on my irritation. That's why I came here. I asked, since I wasn't sure but had heard, whether it was really the last day the exhibit was open.

"This is the Bauhaus archives," she told me, speaking very slowly so I understood. "The special exhibit is in the Gropius building."  I stared blankly until she showed me on a map; I had come to the entirely wrong building, about 5 kilometers away by bicycle.  The special exhibit was in a much larger museum; the building I'd come to was the Bauhaus Archiv, more analogous to a library than a museum.  And today it was more analogous to an empty library, since nearly all of the interesting pieces had been removed in order to be displayed at the Gropius exhibition.  

I'm sure I looked very much like a man so mortified that courtesy demands a false show of reassurance, but it was evidently beyond her to disguise her amazement at my stupidity. I'm not blaming her, mind; it would have taken superhuman restraint, or at least natural acting talent on the level of a young Brando. Fortunately, the friend I was overdue to meet was evidently a special ed teacher in a former life, as she was able to say, in deliberately paced speech, that "You. Should. Not. Be. Embarrassed. That. Was. A. Mistake. Anyone. Could. Make."  Yes, I told myself, anyone could have made this mistake.  Except anyone who had bothered to find out where the exhibition was being held---a group that included perhaps a thousand people crowding into the museum on the exhibition's last day, in contrast to the utter desolation at the Archiv.  

Yeah. Not feeling too bright about this whole thing.   The exhibit was really, really fantastic, as expected, but I've really an inadequate background to summarize it.  One more of those things I'd somehow gone through life unbelievably ignorant of.  

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