Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lange Nacht Der Museen

I know that I've written about probably 500,000 different festivals and events that take place in Barcelona. It seemed that pretty much every weekend there was something somewhere in the city. Some of the memorable ones that I got to attend while there include the Diada Sant Jordi, La Merced, the 48 Hour Open House, a bunch of events around Christmas and Three Kings, the Diada de Sant Antoni, and of course Carnival, not to mention all the other smaller ones that I never wrote about. You're probably getting sick of hearing about them but I love 'em.

When we moved to Stuttgart, I was really afraid that there'd be zero to do as it's a pretty small city and not a very touristy one at that. Because of this, I was extra excited when I started seeing signs for this year's Stuttgart Lange Nacht Der Museen (Long Museum Night).

The Lange Nacht is a one-evening event where almost every museum, gallery, education center, and, well, almost any place that offers something for people to see or learn is open from 7pm Saturday night until 2am Sunday morning. They charge something like 20 euros or so, which includes entry to the ~90 different places as well as all transportation throughout the city. Like the 48 Hour Open House in Barcelona, there were just too many things to see in too short of time so we concentrated our efforts on things that were not the famous, large museums like Porsche or Mercedes but rather on some of the more obscure things that were a bit out of the way. Oh, and the he night was extra special for Diana and I because it was our first time out on the town with our new roommate Berat!

Our first stop of the evening, after a quick traditional German meal(!), was at the Wasserkraftwerk (Water Works) building located on the Necar river, which runs through the center of the city. Here, they use the power of the flowing river to make electricity with two large turbines. It wasn't much of a "museum" but it gives you an idea of the things you could choose from. I think the best thing about the wasserkraftwerk was that it's a functioning facility complete with tools, inventory, work instructions hung on the walls, and lots of other things that a manufacturing guy like me could get into.

From there we went to visit a handful of small galleries right in the center of the city. We hit about five different ones in a little less than an hour. The art was a mixed bag but a couple of the galleries had wine flowing, which always makes the art so much better. I think this photo sums up the whole micro-gallery thing for me. You've got the questionable, naked-chick art displayed "haphazardly" on the floor but you get to check it out while sipping a white wine. Gotta' love it!

As with the wasserkraftwerk, some of the other things we visited that night were not trad museums. The next stop was at the Haus Des Waldes, which is a center dedicated to teaching kids the wonders of wood. It's located on one of the hills surrounding the center of Stuttgart (which is in a valley) near the famous television tower. The institute wasn't overly interesting as it's really meant for kids...

...but outside the building, in the nearby forest, they had set up a reenactment of Snow White, which is a big tradition here in Germany. In the story of Snow White if you don't remember, she's approached by the disguised queen who offers her a poisoned apple, which she then takes and eats. The apple makes Snow White fall into a deep sleep and, well, you'll need to read the story.

Anyway, Diana was of course chosen by the creepy costumed woman playing the queen to be her Snow White. I say of course because, not only is the woman speaking in German, she's speaking in that creepy "haunted house" style voice. Oh, and Diana's probably more like Snow Brown. :-) Here, she's accepting and then EATING the apple!!! That crazy chick'll eat anything! Even fruit from strange women in the forests of Germany!

While Diana settled in for her LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG nap, Berat (that's him in the photo) and I went over to see what this little cart was about:

Wait! What? There's (1) an old dude with a long beard (2) selling wine (3) made from honey (4) from a golf cart (5) in the middle of the forest! Cool! It's called Met (pronounced like "meat") and they serve it either hot or cold. I chose to have mine hot and it was wow. The guy and his wife have a bee farm and make their own honey products.(It turns out that one of Berat's friends has a bee farm and makes Met. I think I feel a story coming on!) The funniest thing about the stand was that he charged you a 1 euro deposit on the glass, which he returned when you gave him back the glass. Like, where am I going to run off to?

We headed back down the hill towards the center of the city and hit a couple of other galleries that aren't worth mentioning. After hightailing it out of there, we went to an area not far from the main train station where old train cars are stored. The Waggons, as it's called, is sort of an artist-collective-meets-high-tech squatters living and working in old train cars.

Several of the cars were turned into galleries or other activities for the evening. They even had one car that was a demonstration of circuit bending, which my friend Dave is very into. This was one of the gallery cars:

The area around the Waggons was something out of some crappy, post-apocalyptic movie set complete with industrial "stuff" all around, old train buildings, and what's left of some old factories and even what looked like an old grainery. We stayed there for about 45 minutes or so but it was getting late so we went back to the center of town to catch the bus home. We arrived at about 145am so we quickly visited the only traditional museum of the evening, the Kunstmuseum. I took this picture of the castle from the top floor of the museum. It's not a very good picture but I'm posting it to show the giant mini skateboard ramp (yes, "giant" meaning very large and "mini" meaning the type of the ramp) that they have set up.

At 2pm we got into one of the buses that took us back home. It was a fun evening filled with unusual sights and experiences. Thanks to Berat for being a great guide, guy, and roommate! One day, you will be added to our own Mount-Rushmore-style tribute to our fantabulous roommates. Oh, and when's the next special event in Stuttgart?

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