Sunday, February 3, 2013

De Young Museum at Golden Gate Park

The de Young Museum, also known as the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, is a fine arts museum located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It is named for early San Francisco newspaperman M. H. de Young. The museum opened in 1895 as an outgrowth of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 (a fair modeled on the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of the previous year). It was housed in an Egyptian style structure which had been the Fine Arts Building at the fair. The building was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1906, closing the building for a year and a half for repairs. Before long, the museum's steady development called for a new space to better serve its growing audiences. Michael de Young responded by planning the building that would serve as the core of the de Young Museum facility through the 20th century. Louis Christian Mullgardt, the coordinator for architecture for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, designed the Spanish-Plateresque-style building. 

The new structure was completed in 1919 and formally transferred by de Young to the city's park commissioners. In 1921, de Young added a central section, together with a tower that would become the museum's signature feature, and the museum began to assume the basic configuration that it retained until 2001. Michael de Young's great efforts were honored with the changing of the museum's name to the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. Another addition, a west wing, was completed in 1925, the year de Young died. In 1929 the original Egyptian-style building was declared unsafe and demolished. By 1949, the elaborate cast concrete ornamentation of the original de Young was determined to be a hazard and removed because the salt air from the Pacific had rusted the supporting steel.

Exploratorium of Fine Arts in San Francisco

The task of creating a Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition fell to the architect Bernard R. Maybeck, then fifty years old and known for his innovative ideas. Setting to work on this new project, he chose as his theme a Roman ruin, mutilated and overgrown, in the mood of a Piranesi engraving. But this ruin was not to exist solely for itself to show "the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes .... " Although it was meant to give delight by its exterior beauty, its purpose was also to offer all visitors a stimulating experience within doors. In playing host to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, The Fair, which opened on February 20, 1915, San Francisco was honoring the discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the completion of the Panama Canal; it was also celebrating its own resurrection after the shattering earthquake and fire of 1906. 

 The problems of choosing the exact site in the city had finally been overcome and groundwork had been going on for some time. Last of the buildings to be erected, on the lagoon and close by a group of Monterey cypresses, was Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts. With its exhibition hall to house the work of living artists (dominated by the Impressionists), its colonnade, and its rotunda -- plans for all of which had dazzled the Commissioners when the huge brown-paper sketch was put before them -- it fulfilled the architect's dream: it was as beautiful reflected in the water as it was against the sky. And when the Palace was completed (Roman in style although a freely-interpreted, purely romantic conception, and Greek in decorative treatment) its exceptional harmony gave it instant appeal to the public.

South African Anthem and Inauguration on Stamp

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was composed in the year 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. It was originally sung as a church hymn but later became an act of political defiance against the apartheid government. Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by C.J. Langenhoven in 1918 and was set to music by the Reverend Marthinus Lourens de Villiers in 1921.[2] Die Stem was the co-national anthem[3] with God Save the King/Queen from 1936 to 1957, when it became the sole national anthem until 1995. The South African government adopted both songs as national anthems from the year 1994, when they were performed at Nelson Mandela's inauguration.[4] They were merged in 1997 to form the current anthem. The new English lyrics were adapted from the last four lines of the first stanza of The Call of South Africa (the English version of Die Stem), and were modified to reflect hope in post-apartheid South African society.