Sunday, February 27, 2011

Museum Night Fever Got Me All Hot Under the Collar

B and I headed out (in the rain, of course) to Museum Night Fever in Brussels last night.  It's a great event wherein a number of museums are open late (some until 3 am) and a wristband entitles you to access them and partake in the special events each has planned for the night.  There are also shuttles running to take you to the museums all over the city.  If you ask me, this is an event that should be put on in, say, May or June when the weather is more reliable and warmer, but that's just me.

We checked out the Museum of Musical Instruments, which despite having some ornate pianos and organs on display, is pretty lackluster.  The best part is the old building it is housed in and the fact that there is restaurant on the top floor that affords incredible views of the city.  But the actual installations/displays are pretty meh.  I say don't bother unless you wanna have a fabu brunch one weekend.... hey, let me know when's good for you.

We also went to the Wiels Gallery, which is housed in a beautifully renovated old brewhouse, and is a lovely space.  The main exhibition was video installations by David Claerbout that had me rapt.  I wanted to curl up on the newly carpeted floor (mmm.... yummy new carpet smell...) and watch them all night.  But instead we moved on.

After a failed attempt at getting into the Musee d'Art Fantastique, where we were promised a bar with vampire-themed treats, we headed to the Royal Museum of the Army instead, as we were told there would be a fashion-show and bar there.  (We were thirsty!)

What a show the military museum put on!  We enjoyed a glass of champagne and a hot dog (great combo) while watching military-inspired fashions come down the runway and giggling about washing down our hot dogs with champagne.  Some pieces were better than others, but in general it was lots of fun.  Afterwards, about 10 women dressed as majorettes came out and put on a hipster baton-twirling show accompanied by a marching band of sorts playing vintagey gypsy-type music.  Smiles abounded!   It was genius!  The choreography was so lighthearted... and the girls were adorable with red ruffled bloomers on under their unis.  I wish I had some pictures.  I did get this one of B and "Napoleon", though...

We wandered around the museum afterwards, taking in the permanent displays of uniforms (though there was far too much Nazi stuff on display for me) and weaponry and medals.  Then we ended up walking through the timeline of WWII.  And that's when I got ranty.

Before I go further, a few comments.  I love my country, I do.  I like being an American and am proud to be so.  Yes, I am living in Europe right now and jumped at the chance to leave the United States, but it's not because I don't like it there.  I have always wanted to experience living abroad so as to immerse myself in another culture, just like I've always loved to travel and try new foods and see new things and, well, you know, be me.  I am not thrilled at the state of my country currently, especially at the number of loud-mouthed idiots that are running around making idiot statements and getting other idiots all riled up about ridiculous things (e.g., fear-mongering), but I am American and I am proud to admit it whenever anyone asks me where I'm from.  (I am also proud when French or Belgian people tell me I don't have an accent.  Hey, thanks!)

I have not supported or even understood the wars the US has been involved in during my adult lifetime.  These have not been the wars I learned about in my Western Civ or American History classes in high school.  These have not been the wars where the entire country stood together, fighting a clear "evil."  I have a profound respect for the grandfathers and the uncles and the other relatives (we all have some) who fought for us in the great wars, where lines were clearly drawn and the whole WORLD was involved.  (Not at all like the "World" series.)

So as I strolled through the WWII timeline-style exhibit, I felt my blood start to boil as there was nary a mention of the US troops until I found a little corner about D-Day.  What, what, WHAT???  I know that it's important to see history from another perspective, but if some poor benighted Belgian were to have the museum's exhibit as his/her only information source of the war, he/she would think that the US had its feet propped up, enjoying the "theater of war" from a distance until a few yanks decided to drop in for some sun n' fun in Normandy.  Oh, was I mad!  And then, the lack of emphasis on D-Day, which as far as I understood, was a huge contributor to the eventual German surrender by soon allowing the Allies to take France.  But the Belgians didn't really mention that.

I think I am an open-minded person and I certainly don't think America is the center of the world, but I was outraged by the glaring omission of my country's efforts during the war.  I told Byron, there's NO WAY I would ever let my dad set foot in that museum!  I know what he says is true, but I wouldn't hear the end of it.  So we will steer clear of the military museum when my parents visit in May, I assure you.