Top 5: Michael Botwinick



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Since 2001, Michael Botwinick has been director of the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, an institution that focuses on 19th- and 20th-centry art, history, and science. Because “most people know about the great encyclopedic museums like the Louvre, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and the British Museum,” Botwinick shares here his favorite lesser-known destinations that no hardcore culture vulture should miss.




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1) Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA

Set in famed Golden Gate Park, this institution, Botwinick says, pioneered the American form of the interactive science museum. “It’s a huge educational enterprise,” he says. “It does its work by drawing the visitor in to experiment, research, explore, and interact.”


2) Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

“The Walker is perhaps the finest, liveliest, and most publicly attuned contemporary art museum in the world,” says Botwinick. Receiving particular praise: its evening programs and social events. “They draw huge crowds and are legendary for their fun.”

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3) Wadsworth Athenium, Hartford, CT

Located just a short drive from Westchester, The Wadsworth is America’s oldest public museum and home to the Morgan Great Hall, which Botwinick calls “one of the world’s most inspiring museum spaces.” Particularly noteworthy is this museum’s collection of Hudson River School paintings. “It’s among the finest anywhere,” he says.


4) Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany

Part of the Museum Island located in the middle of the Spree River in the center of Berlin, the Pergamon is dedicated to archaeology, a field that, Botwinick says, German scholars dominated in the 18th century. Its monumental reconstruction of archaeological building ensembles showcases the Pergamon Altar, which dates back to the second century BC, the Market Gate from Miletus, and the Ishtar Gate, including the Processional Way of Babylon in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. “The Ishtar Gate stands nearly five stories high, and its brilliant gold and blue tiles still sparkle.”


5) Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

This “jewel of a picture gallery” is located just a short hop from Amsterdam in The Hague, the royal seat of the Netherlands. A superb collection of Vermeers (Girl with a Pearl Earring) and Rembrandts (Dr. Tulp’s Anatomy Lesson) “convey a sense of the richness and sophistication of this merchant republic that led the world in the sixteenth century.”


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