Monday, April 30, 2012
APRIL 30, 2012 CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE
"Through partnership we experience the joys of working, living, and loving together."
For me, this means a lot right now. Partnerships go through it all. Working and living together is a challenge but it works for us. I do not know if it will work for most couples. We are there in sickness and health. We didn't exactly say that in our vows, but in a different way we promised each other to be there. And that I shall be. We even travel together most times, unless I am lecturing in a far away state.
This weekend we traveled to the City of Brotherly Love. We had two purposes, a personal visit to the Cancer Centers of America, and to explore this city which neither of us have been to in more than 15 years. Philadelphia was founded on principles of equality and freedom more than 300 years ago. It is the birthplace of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Rick and I found cultural, culinary, artistic and ethnic treasures in this city. We found the Gayborhood to be pleasant and slightly changed from years gone by. We could always count on Woody's on 13th Street. And did we explore. Locust Street, Giovanni's Room, a new sculpture walking up the wall, Camor Street and Spruce Street. And of course, no trip is complete without the city's needlepoint store, The Rittenhouse Needlepoint Store on Chestnut Avenue and 18th Street. It was a mini vacation for us to be away from work. We never visit this city without exploring its museums... we do not want to miss the masterpieces.
Like Philadelphia’s own Parthenon, the Philadelphia Museum of Art sits majestically on a rise at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The vast collections of this temple of art make it the third-largest art museum in the country, and an absolute must-see on the city’s cultural circuit. Among its impressive holdings in Renaissance, American, Impressionist and Modern art, some standouts include a great Roger van der Weyden altarpiece, a large Bathers by Cezanne, a room devoted to Philadelphia’s own Thomas Eakins, and Marcel Duchamp’s notorious mixed-media Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (The Large Glass), exactly as the dada master installed it. The real reason to visit this museum was the sold out show of works by Vincent Van Gogh. Many admire an artist for a variety of reasons - for me it is the nature he painted. The lilacs, dandelions and the sunflowers (as above). In my lifetime I will never again see an exhibit as thorough. We could always go to a beach, but never to a show like this. Thanks to the generosity of Cancer Centers of America. More news of this. With some 40 masterpieces borrowed from collections around the world, Van Gogh Up Close is the first exhibition to explore the reasons and means by which this impassioned artist made such unusual changes to his painting style in the final years of his life.
As a physician, Philadelphia is where the First College of Physicians was created. It is housed in the Mutter Museum. Its treasures include the tallest skeleton in the world, the plaster death cast of the torso of the famous Chinese twins Chang and Eng and their actual conjoined liver, and most important: the brain of the most famous man, Albert Einstein preserved in formaldehyde.
The brain is on display at Philadelphia's Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library, in a whirlwind exhibit built in about nine working days. The brain in slices have had a strange journey since Einstein's death in 1955 at age 76 from an abdominal aneurysm. The pathologist who completed Einstein's autopsy, a man named Thomas Harvey, removed Einstein's brain as part of standard autopsy procedure — and then failed to put it back. Harvey later said that Einstein's son had given him permission to take the scientist's brain, but the Einstein family disputed that claims. Harvey lost his job over the Einstein scandal, but he kept the brain
The museum is the history of medicine.
After seeing these wild exhibits, the tools used for surgery and tumours preserved in formaldehyde, Rick and I got a break. We went outside to the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden. Beneath the shade of this large magnolia tree, we had a peaceful place to read, relax and just talk. WE even had a tear to shed.
And finally the last museum on our trail was the Academy of Science and Nature (equivalent to the Museum of Natural History) where we went to the butterfly live exhibit as well as of course, a live beehive in the Children's section. We had a great loving time.
We have important days ahead. The trip was a success. As Amtrak brought us home, we were met by our children- Alyssa and Gregory (and now Vincent- yeah) to a great dinner.
This book under Rick's pillow says it all --Everything will be OK