Your favorite art in situ experiences

My spouse and I absolutely love to travel to see art in situ. Our top experiences include seeing frescos and mosaics, architecture, and music performed in the country it was written. For example, we went to Ravenna in May and took a bus to San Apollinare in Classe. After viewing the amazing mosaics from 549, we went back outside to wait for the return bus and noticed the same trees depicted in the mosaics growing still growing outside the cathedral.

What are your most memorable art in situ experiences?

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4429 posts

It wasn't quite the same, but I had seen Van Gogh's Olive trees in one of the museums. A week later I was in Provence in St. Remy and there they were! It was amazing.


Posted by Peter
York, PA
215 posts

Monet's garden in Giverny, France. We visited on a rainy afternoon in May and at the lily pnd we felt like we were in one of his paintings.

Posted by Alyson
Chicago, IL, USA
423 posts

Hi Peter, I haven't been to Giverny yet, but last year we went to Rouen to see the cathedral and the next day we went to the Rouen museum to see Monet's painting of the cathedral. I love how art makes buildings and gardens seem even more alive.

Posted by Emma
Northern California
118 posts

What a great topic, Matti! As wonderful as museums are, there's nothing like seeing art in the place it was meant to live.

These are all pretty well-known art experiences, but my favorites nevertheless:

El Greco's Burial of the Count of Orgaz, Toledo, Spain -- It's hard to believe this masterpiece is tucked into a side niche of the entryway of a nondescript chapel at the back end of the town. The stark, clean space makes the painting glow even more.

Fra Angelico's Annunciation, Cortona, Italy -- I don't believe it's actually displayed in the space it was painted for, but I count this work as "in situ" because Cortona managed to hold onto this and a few other paintings by its hometown boy. Pretty rare.

Rodin Museum garden, Paris -- Bronze casts of many of Rodin's greatest statues are "planted" in the garden. Walking through this peaceful, green space and coming upon "The Thinker" is a delight. Rodin's figures are so powerful that they seem designed for the outdoors, rather than a claustrophobic museum niche.

Galleria Borghese, Rome -- as you circle Bernini's statues with only a few other visitors, you feel like you're a special guest in the sumptuous villa.

So many many more! Frari Church in Venice, altarpieces in Rothenburg -- I'm interested to see what others think.

Posted by AKF
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
191 posts

Years ago, I bought a print of a watercolour of Montmartre from a street vendor there that is hanging in my house...last year when we went, it was neat to see it in person, still looking the same.

Posted by Beatrix
2155 posts

One of the most memorable days during our trip to Switzerland was a visit to the Chateau in Oberhofen on Lake Thun. It's a beautiful place to beginn with. But while we were touring the rooms we got to listen to music students from the University of Bern playing classical music on their instruments. First a flutist, then a cellist. We ended up staying much longer than intended ...

Posted by Sue
Springfield, VA, USA
283 posts

When we buy art to bring home, we ask the artist where the scene was painted and go take apicture of it. I have landscapes from Ille sur la Sorge and a photo of the waterwheel on the back. A home in Rousillon with a photo on the back, etc. I get a real kick out of seeing things in person and in the art.

Posted by Alyson
Chicago, IL, USA
423 posts

I love these beautiful stories so much. Thank you for posting them (and giving me ideas for future trips!)

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1582 posts

The white marble sculpture at the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1582 posts

The sculpted pulpit in the small church in the small town Wolfgang at Wolfgangsee, located in the Salzkamergut in Austria.

Posted by Carole
Daytona Beach, FL
220 posts

Interesting post Matti.

There are so many memorable experiences , but one was seeing Salisbury Cathedral shortly after reading a book about the building of it. I had seen it before, but it was a very different experience after reading the book.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3080 posts

I enjoy the sidewalk artists in London and other cities. Though the work is temporary, it is usually very well done. Since I also work with chalk, I understand the challenge! I also love to look at local artist's work in markets. But, more to the point of this post- on our first trip to London, we went to see the Tower. As we walked around after the general tour, we stopped by the rooms where Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisioned. At the time I was teaching 8th grade Social Studies which is NC history. The week prior to our trip, I had taught a lesson about the explorations that he sponsored to the coast of NC. Sitting on his desk was the sketch book of the artist who was on one of the trips- it was open to the picture that was also printed in our textbook for that lesson. I about went through the roof explaining to my husband. It was wonderful and made our first UK visit very special.

Posted by Dwayne
West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
213 posts

Ever since I first saw it, I've been enchanted by the artwork on buildings in the old city sections of cities like Zurich and Lucerne and in towns in Bavaria, etc.. Sometimes there is even something quite contemporary. I've also stumbled across amazing art in cemeteries where gravestones are often works of art.

Posted by Alyson
Chicago, IL, USA
423 posts

I agree Dwayne and I also find the mix of old and contemporary particularly facinating.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3169 posts

In Venice there are many churches with the original art designed to be enjoyed there. Several years ago I bought a combo-ticket for about 8 churches and visited one or two a day over my stay.

Posted by Janis
Grapevine, TX, USA
873 posts

A concert in Ste. Chappelle in Paris -- a stringed quartet and a mezzo-soprano showcasing the classical versions of "Ave Maria". It was a mesmerizing, ethereal experience in that locale.
Finding small watercolor of the Begijnhof in Bruges right after my visit there.
Not exactly "art" -- but finding postcards and posters in Santorini depicting the Aspaki hotel where we stayed along with the beautiful view from there.
Being in the beautiful French village of Pont Aven where some of the impressionists were inspired by the lovely setting.

Posted by Alyson
Chicago, IL, USA
423 posts

Oooh Janis, I'd love to see a concert in Ste. Chappelle !

I'm trying to plan a trip now to see Jordi Savall, who specializes in new music, in concert. I hope we can see him perform in a Medieval, Renaissance or Baroque building.