Winged Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

I miss travel. No, I don’t miss the crowded airports, the delayed departures, the missed connections, or the lost luggage.  I miss the experience of discovering a city for the first time, tasting new and delicious foods, and learning about unfamiliar languages and cultures.


I also miss art. I miss encountering painting, music, architecture, and sculpture, as I do when I am traveling. For me, exploring museums, visiting cultural sites, and attending concerts are all such important parts of travel.


In the day-to-day work-from-home life that we are all now living, I often find myself reminiscing about the many rich cultural experiences I have enjoyed over the years during my travels. Although my cultural travel nostalgia encompasses many pleasurable memories,  for now it has a bittersweet edge. It seems likely that it will be many, many months before we may once again travel freely.


I decided that if none of us can travel for now, we can at least share our memories.  We can reminisce together. Here’s what I propose.


I have set out below pictures of and notes about some of my favorite cultural travel memories, to share them with readers but also to encourage readers to send me pictures and thoughts of their own about their favorite or most important cultural travel memories. Please send me pictures of your own travel encounters with art — painting, music, architecture, and sculpture. Even literature or drama, if you have pictures that capture your encounter. I will select the best pictures and publish them in future post(s), “best” being a measure of the photographs and descriptions that most creatively or interestingly capture the experience.


The great thing about cultural experiences while traveling is that precisely because you are away from home and outside your familiar surroundings and activities, it is possible to perceive even familiar artistic works in a new, thought-provoking way. What this affords is not only an appreciation for design, execution, and detail, but even artistic meaning and purpose.


Here I am — cleverly disguised as a middle-aged American tourist, complete with cargo shorts and fanny pack — at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria, contemplating Vermeer’s The Art of Painting, a beautiful, interesting work rich with detail and meaning. (Note to self: Got to work on posture. Shoulders back, head up.)


There is also something to be said for encountering directly the original of an artwork of which you have often seen many copies.


At the Kunsthalle Hamburg, I encountered Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich. I have always admired this painting. Unfortunately, the picture has been appropriated and misappropriated a few too many times, which robs the image of some of its power. I was glad to have a chance to see the original. In my eyes, the picture is a work of conception, composition, and control – and yet it is also a mystery. The figure at the painting’s center has his back to us, which has the effect of drawing us into his perspective, inviting us to contemplate the world with him. He sees, and we see with him, a world of subtle, inscrutable beauty. There is much more to say about the painting. Buy me a glass of wine sometime and we can discuss this transcendent painting’s many-layered meanings.


Truly great art will also challenge you, particularly when it take unfamiliar or unaccustomed forms.


From a special exhibit called Le Bord du Mondes (The Edge of Worlds), featuring contemporary art from around the world (particularly Southeast Asia), at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.


Of course, one of the most important parts of travel is the experience of discovery, and of encounter with the unexpected.


When we visited the Pergamon Museum in Berlin in January, I was astonished to discover the reconstructed Ishtar Gate, from ancient Babylon, built at the time of King Nebuchadnezzar II and in modern times removed to Berlin by the German archaeologists that excavated the ancient city remnants. An astonishing sight, but it does make you wonder what it is doing in Germany.


Sometimes you find the art somewhere other than where you expected to find it, even when you were actively looking for it.


The Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. The flamboyant building, designed by the American architect Frank Geary, is somehow both massive and flowing, and its visual effect is so stunning that it almost overwhelms the art inside. The building itself is a work of art.


The visual arts of course also include sculpture, which, though static, can convey movement as well as form and depth.


During a visit to Oslo a few years ago, my wife and I visited the Vigeland Sculpture Garden, which features the odd and unusual statuary of the late 19th and early 20th century Norwegian artist, Gustave Vigeland. All of the many statues and sculptures in the garden involve variations on the human form. Statuary can be difficult to photograph, owing to the perspective that is lost when moving from three dimensions to two. However, this photo, and in particular the contrast between the blue sky and the grey stone, captures something of the sculpture’s actual effect.


The most important part of experiencing visual art is learning how to see, how to slow down your vision so that you see all of it, both the constituent parts and the work as a whole. If you can slow your vision down, you can see both how the art was put together and also perhaps glimpse the inner meaning as well.


The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.


As much as I enjoy the visual arts, I think I enjoy the performing arts even more, especially live musical performances. There is something about the energy and interpretation of the performer that captures my own imagination. I have been fortunate to attend some great musical performances while traveling over the years, including quite a number in truly fabulous venues.


During our Berlin visit in January, my wife and I attended a concert at the Konzerthalle, a beautiful building that was brilliantly illuminated in a fascinating light display. The concert included several Beethoven string quartets.


Sometimes the venue can enhance the music and contribute to the relationship between the performer and the audience.


When I was in London last November, I attended a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert at Cadogan Hall (pronounced “Kah-DOH-gun”) in Sloane Square. Cadogan Hall is an intimate jewel box of a music venue. It only seats 950, but it actually feels much smaller. At the Tuesday evening concert I attended, Elizabeth Sombart was the pianist in a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. My seat in the upper level was perfectly positioned to allow me to watch Sombart’s hands as she played the cadenzas. It was a truly extraordinary experience. The venue and the musicianship of the soloist and the ensemble made for a really special evening.


While there are a number of venues that can enhance the audience experience, a few can even allow for actual intimacy between the audience and the performer.


During a visit to Paris several years ago, I attended a concert at the ancient Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre church (reportedly Paris’s oldest extant church structure). The concert featured a performance by the French pianist, Jean-Christophe Millot, who played several pieces by Beethoven and Chopin. The church’s acoustics are superb, and the sanctuary’s small size and subdued lighting made for a particularly intimate feel. I was also sitting close enough to watch the performer’s hands, which was absolutely brilliant.


While different building structures can have differing effects on the audience, by far the most moving and memorable musical performance I attended while traveling did not involve a building at all.


On a warm sunny Sunday afternoon in late May several years ago, my wife and I were hiking around Suomenlinna, an island in the harbor of Helsinki, Finland. After touring the famous island fortress, we were strolling though the island parklands when we came across a group of music students performing for their families and friends. The warm spring sunshine, the relaxed atmosphere, the absolutely positive vibe made for a truly unbeatable experience. We sat and listened to the various student ensembles for over two hours. On our ferry trip back to the city, sat with the students and we were able to talk with them and to find out more about their studies and plans. My wife and I reminisce about this event frequently; we both agree that as we sat in that beautiful place listening to the beautiful music, we felt truly blessed. It was completely unplanned, but it was one of the most wonderful afternoons of my entire life. That, my friends, is the essence of why I miss travel.


My cultural traveling memories include many more events and experiences. I could go on and on and on, with many more examples from many different times and places. Indeed, while I was reviewing my photo files as part of the process of pulling this post together, I disappeared into the pictures and the related memories for an entire afternoon. Limiting myself to just the few pictures above was very difficult for me.


I hope my pictures and notes encourage readers to go back through their own  travel experiences and review their pictures, and I hope that many readers will be encouraged to send their pictures along to me for possible publication in future blog post(s). If you do decide to submit some pictures, please include your name and company affiliation, as well as a brief description of the circumstances under which you took the picture and why the experience was meaningful to you. Please send your pictures to my work email mailbox at


I am looking forward to seeing readers’ pictures. We may not be able to travel right now, but we can at least share our travel memories.