Travel

Treat yourself to two special museum exhibits in Grand Rapids and Cleveland during the holidays

"The Monet Family in Their Garden at Argenteuil," by Edouard Manet, is among the master works showcased in a special exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art. (Photo courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art)

“The Monet Family in Their Garden at Argenteuil,” by Edouard Manet, is among the master works showcased in a special exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art. (Photo courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art)

Standing with Temperance activists at the special exhibit, "American Spirits: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition" in Grand Rapids through Jan. 17. (Photo credit: Steve Pollack)

Standing with Temperance activists at the special exhibit, “American Spirits: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition” in Grand Rapids through Jan. 17. (Photo credit: Steve Pollack)

 

Holiday shopping gets old after a while and you can only binge-watch so many movies.

If you find yourself with some free time — and a bit of wanderlust — during Christmas break, gift yourself with a road-trip or two to a pair of museums with special exhibits ending soon. Each is within a three-hour drive of Detroit.

Thanks to a tip from a friend, I made a quick road-trip the other day down to the Cleveland Museum of Art where “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse” is drawing large crowds. And my friend was right: it is “stunning” and a “must-see” — but you must act fast to get tickets.

Through Jan. 5, the exhibit showcases more than 100 paintings by a who’s who of 20th-century Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and avant-garde masters. In addition to Monet and Matisse, artists include Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, van Gogh, Kandinsky, Munch and others who were unfamiliar to me but whose works I loved. Some of the gorgeous garden paintings are from private collections around the U.S. and Europe and are rarely exhibited, including “Daubigny’s Garden in Auvers” by Van Gogh. Monet’s exploration of his water garden at Giverny, spread across three huge panels, is another highlight.

The blockbuster exhibit is making its only U.S. stop in Cleveland before its star-turn Jan. 30-April 20 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Due to the show’s popularity in Cleveland, advance ticket purchase is mandatory. Tickets start at $18, kids’ tickets half that. Check  http://tickets.clevelandart.org/public/auto_choose_ga.asp?area=1

You have a bit more time to head west across Michigan to another cool exhibit, “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” which runs through Jan. 17 at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Although the topic may sound dry (pun intended), it’s actually a lively romp through a fascinating period of American history, from the early 1800s’ dawn of the temperance movement through the Roaring ’20s and the unprecedented repeal of a constitutional amendment during the Great Depression.

The period comes alive through a re-created speakeasy where you can learn to do the Charleston, and in church pews where museum-goers learn about the rise of the Anti-Saloon League and take a quiz determining whether they would have been a “wet” or a “dry.”

I especially enjoyed the collection of flapper dresses, barware and temperance propaganda. Posing for photo ops with cardboard gangsters in a criminal lineup and with cutouts of suffragists and temperance workers was fun, too.

“Wayne Wheeler’s Amazing Amendment Machine,” a 20-foot-long, carnival-inspired contraption, traces the evolution of the temperance movement. Carry Nation’s hatchet and original ratification copies of the 18th and 21st amendments are standouts among the artifact collection.

The exhibit, created by the National Constitution Center, is particularly timely, given that Dec. 5 marked the 82nd anniversary of the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition law, and Jan. 17 will mark the 96th anniversary of the day the 18th Amendment went into effect.

Admission is $8 adults, less for seniors and children. Check http://www.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 17 at Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Photo credit: Susan R. Pollack)

The exhibit runs through Jan. 17 at Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Photo credit: Susan R. Pollack)

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Detroit’s notorious Purple Gang flourished during Prohibition, as shown in the “American Spirits” special exhibit in Grand Rapids. (Photo credit: Susan R. Pollack)

Temperance activist Carry Nation figures prominently in the "American Spirits" exhibit in Grand Rapids. (Photo credit: Susan R. Pollack)

Temperance activist Carry Nation figures prominently in the “American Spirits” exhibit in Grand Rapids. (Photo credit: Susan R. Pollack)

grpm.org/prohibition/

(Through Jan. 31, check out the museum’s other special exhibit, “The Discovery of King Tut,” for an extra fee).

#Monet #Matisse @ Cleveland Museum of Art

Susan R. Pollack
Globetrotting journalist and former Detroit News staff writer Susan R. Pollack has covered travel since 1985, visiting scores of countries on five continents, 49 states, six Canadian provinces and hundreds of cities, islands and outposts along the way. From Alaska, the Galapagos and New Zealand to South Africa, Thailand and Wales, she has suffered the occasional lost luggage, jetlag and Montezuma’s revenge but still delights in sharing travel adventures with readers. In addition to The Detroit News, her award-winning stories and photos have appeared in major newspapers including the Dallas News, Toronto Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Chicago Sun Times; and magazines including Delta Sky, Midwest Living, Long Weekends, Experience Michigan, Jetsetter, Home & Away, Hour Detroit, Prevue Meetings and Group Tour. She has contributed to several books including "Rand McNally 2008 Ultimate NASCAR Road Trip Guide," and is the copy editor for secondchancetravels.com. She also has written for websites including gardendestinations.com and travelingmom.com.