Mount Fuji Asian art exhibits at the Smithsonian

I have been fond of ukiyo-e woodblock prints for many years. My favorites haven’t changed: Hokusai for nature and Utamaro for portraits. My favorite Hokusai work continues to be the first I ukiyo-e I ever saw, his Wave. Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji: Under the Wave off Kanagawa is a beautiful digital reproduction!

I submitted a comment, an inquiry. No surprise there!

If possible, I hoped you might be able to answer a question, Mr. Kaplan. I viewed the enlargement of the image above, and noticed a graphic in the lower left corner, on the black matte surrounding the image. What is it? is it used for photographing and digital reproduction?

Asian art line-up

The Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art have a fine line-up for the entire year. The current exhibits are a series of Japanese spring-themed art with more Hokusai as well as Kabuki and contemporary works.

These are the next exhibits on the schedule:

  • Art of Darkness: Japanese mezzotints
  • Perspectives: Ai WeiWei
  • Shadow Sites: Archival and contemporary archaeological and aerial photograhy
  • Worlds Within Worlds: Imperial paintings from India and Iran

I wish I could visit, and see each one.

An underground passageway

The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art. I was surprised as I read about the history and design:

The Freer Gallery of Art opened to the public in 1923, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery… in 1987. Both are physically connected by an underground passageway, and ideologically linked through the study, exhibition, and sheer love of Asian art.

I am particularly curious about that underground tunnel. That was a truly inspired idea!

Sometimes art museums are intimidating or cold. But this sounded fun, friendly, welcoming:

You can go wireless in the Haupt Garden (check out Asia on Google Earth while you’re at it) right outside our door: try something new, and when you’re done, come inside and take a fresh look at something old.


Chemical Heritage

This aluminum necklace was on display at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in 2010. A description of the exhibit is still available in a mostly image-free post about Atomic Age jewelry. Peruse additional wonders from the Chemistry and Fashion: Making Modernity exhibit.

No Moore Chemical Heritage

Sadly, CHF was absorbed by the Science History Institute in 2018. The collections can still be viewed in person, at the former location of the CHF Museum on 315 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can still read about the illustrious past of the Chemical Heritage Foundation here. I have (mostly) found new source links for the in line URLs below.

nterested in the legacy of Gordon E. Moore and his famous observation about the growth of technology? Read the original publication that introduced Moore’s Law, Understanding Moore’s Law: Four Decades of Innovation, that includes the original article written by Moore in 1966, and observations by Moore and others in 2006 when the book was published by (the now defunct) Chemical Heritage Foundation Press, to commemorate 40 years of Moore’s law. The Science History Institute kindly keeps an electronic version of the full text (PDF) available for online readers.

IgNoble to Nobel pipeline?

I first wrote this post in 2010. Andre Geim won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. (Geim is actually a chemist, not a physicist, thus the relevancy here, if one wishes to be fussy; I do.) In the span of ten years, Geim went from winning an IgNoble prize for levitating frogs with magnets to the Nobel Prize for introduction of an extraordinary carbonate, graphene.

During the 2000 IgNoble Prize ceremony, Harvard physics researcher and teacher Roy Glauber was present on the stage with Geim, as a long-time member of the IgNoble committee. Just a few years later, Glauber won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics! It is hardly enough to establish any sort of trend or correlation, but if this sort of overlap continues to occur, it might be something to look into.


Medical Arts

Clinical Cases and Images posted an article about Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary of Medical Terms (online edition) in 2008. It remains an excellent reference source, useful for medical terms and for general interest topics.


The Tree of Life

This is a beautiful hand-woven silk carpet. Solveigh told me that it represents the Tree of Life.

Mrs. Solveigh Calderin is a nice Scandinavian woman I met on the Internet. She seems to know a lot about fine wool rugs and carpets. I found the image (above) on her website the other day.

This is NOT a sponsored endorsement! The Tree of Life is, well, it is symbolic of everything. While highlighting the good. It has been on my mind recently, as Rosh Hashanah was a few weeks (okay, months) ago.


The Hydraulis

The hydraulis or water organ is said to have been invented by Ctesibius in the 3rd century BC.

In Ctesibius’s version, water was used to regulate the flow of air through pipes to produce music from a keyboard, but as time went by the use of bellows became as popular as water. Both versions of the instrument died out in the West after the fall of the Western Empire, but survived in the East.


The hydraulis, or hydraulos (romanhistorybooks seems to use both spellings) is an appealing concept. It evokes thoughts of water with a sense of musicality. It reminds me of Archimedes’ Water Clock also. I wish there were a mosaic depicting that! But Archimedes hailed from Ancient Greece, probably predating the Roman mosaics such as this one by at least 400 years. I could find out definitively from a Google search in less than five minutes.

However, the answer, and further details about the Water Clock, with (modern) images, is ample subject matter for a full-blown post all of its own. I will try to remember to follow up on that.