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Trip Report Trip report--Norfolk, VA

Norfolk as it turns out is an easy overnight trip from Virginia's Historic Triangle area. And there are a few interesting attractions here, at least one day’s worth.

Began at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church, a moderate sized brick edifice old enough to have a Revolutionary War cannonball buried into one of its outside walls. There's more decoration inside than appears at first glance, plus four or so attractive stained glass panels. The church graveyard surrounds the church on two sides, though few of the headstones are legible anymore.

A short walk away is Freemason Street, an oasis of older brick homes surrounded by modern high-rises and a large mall; they weren't open today (all have extraordinarily minimal hours of operation), but walked past the Willoughby Baylor House, the Norfork Police and Fire Museum, and the Moses Meyer House (the rather scruffy garden area behind the last of these was open, no great shakes).

Nearby is the Douglas MacArthur Memorial and Museum, the final resting place for the general and his wife, who lie in state under the rotunda of what was once the city's courthouse. The accompanying museum gives a detailed account of his life and loads of personal effects (military and otherwise, including several pipes of corncob and other varieties) as well as a small collection of Japanese ceramics. Like most such places, it tends to gloss over or fudge the mistakes he made (sorry, but there is no controversy about whether MacArthur overstepped his bounds during the Korean War by going into China). Oh well -- that's the way it goes. Still very interesting.

Very much enjoyed the Hunter House Victorian Museum, a late 19th century Romanesque style Victorian home. It's full of ornate furnishings, personal items, clothing, and much more. The detailing here is remarkably intricate. The tour was okay, a little hesitant but generally good.

But this was all a prelude to the major reason to come to Norfork, the Chrysler Museum. This is a medium to large-ish place with a fine collection. There are plenty of excellent paintings, including brand-name stuff by Cranach, Holbein, Tintoretto, Veronese, Strozzi, Van Dyck, Giordano, Greuze, Copley, West, Gainsborough, Cole, Bierstadt, Homer, Delacroix, Corot, Monet, Cassatt, Sisley, Renoir, Pissarro, Gaugin, Degas, Hassam, Sargent, Bellows, Rouault, Picasso (including several ceramics), Braque, Matisse, De Chirico, Benton, Hopper, Stella, Gorky, Motherwell, Kline, Pollock, Indiana, Rothko, and Lichtenstein. A particular strength of this collection is its glass holdings -- huge, including American pieces by Tiffany and companies based in Sandwich, New Bedford, Corning, and Cambridge plus lots of 20th century glass art. There are also tapestries, furniture, sculpture, metalwork, and Worcester UK porcelain, as well as artifacts from Africa, Asia, Egypt, Mesoamerica, and Ancient Greece and Rome. The quality to quantity ratio here is high, and the collection can be seen in a half-day plus.

Did not have time for NAUTICUS, home to the battleship Wisconsin and various science and maritime exhibits. There's only so much one can manage in a day, especially if you love art museums and historic buildings.

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