Guarding the Pergamon

I’m beginning to think that I’m not very good at going to museums.  I get sleepy quickly when the lighting is low, and audio guides often make me go a little bit loco (with the notable exception of Mr Ro-co-co who has to be heard to be appreciated but made my first Sanssouci visit even more of a pleasure than it otherwise would have been).  Escorts have had to top me up with tea and cake in the past, to avert a serious case of the droops.  I think it runs in the genes, Mum always needed regular tea breaks too.

This little bit of self knowledge comes as a result of my Sunday culture vulture effort wherein I finally made it to the Pergamon part of the Museum Isle.

- from flickr

The ‘gigantic’ Pergamon Altar that gives the museum it’s name was pretty impressive but I enjoyed the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way rather more.   That’s probably because I’m a magpie the Babylonians didn’t bother with unadorned stone, they had glazed tiles in indigo, turquoise and ochre, with lions, bulls and chimeras that paced alongside you. Or maybe because they were commissioned by Nebuchadnezzar II, and I just like that name.

Despite enjoying all the statues very much, I was getting serious artefact fatigue after about an hour, and so I almost missed what turned out to be for me the best part of the museum – dedicated to Islamic Art.

from David Baggins on flickr

Here I found examples of everything which I love: beautifully carved wood  and stone, lustrous ceramics, sumptous tiles, glowing carpets and tapestries, geometric patterns, flowers and script in a breathtaking variety of forms.

Each room had something new and wonderful, and I was both completely overwhelmed and loving every minute.

But the guards, they take their work seeeeriously.  They were hundreds of them wandering around in blazers and watching everyone most intently for the slightest hint of misdeed.  And they never smiled.  I find this most disconcerting in museum guards.  And once I made the mistake of resting my hands on a rail guarding a mosaic – a guardman rushed over and told me not to lean on it.  They should learn, if you put a rail up, tired tourists will lean.  Anyway, the moral of this story is that as I forgot to take my camera with me I was going to go back and take some pics of the most beautiful things, but the guards scare me so I won’t (this means you have internet images).  However, you should go there, avoid all rails and see everything for yourself.  The end.


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