Elephant No. 23: Hanoi, Vietnam

This particular elephant comes from a special temporary exhibition entitled “Mythical Creatures” at the National Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi. We happened by complete coincidence to arrive at the museum on the opening morning of the exhibition – a fact it took us a while to realise as it dawned on us that there were far too many film cameras and tv presenters inside the exhibition for this to be a normal day. Most of the museums on this trip in Asia have been filled with people walking irritatingly slowly through the galleries, painstakingly taking a photo of each object with their smartphones, but not actually looking at the object in question except through their smartphone screen. I have never understood this practice: sure, take a photo of a couple of your favourite exhibits to remember them, but what are you going to do with many hundreds and hundreds of pictures from a museum? I really doubt that you are going to look at them much in the future. What’s more, it prevents you from looking at the objects with your own eyes and anyway many museums have websites with high-quality images of their objects if you really wanted to look at them again after!  (more…)

Elephant No. 13: Nanjing 

As well as trying to find elephants from different places around the world, I have also been on the look out for elephants of different media. Obviously a real, live elephant hits the bulls-eye, but they aren’t always a readily available elephant viewing option, while the most common denominator is definitely the elephant statue – there’s no shortage of them in China. But I rather liked this oil painting of an elephant in the Nanjing Museum, the work of Chinese artist Su Tianci (1922-1906), with its thoughtful expression among the pink blossoms.  (more…)