Rebecca and I joined another couple and went to the Stuttgarter Lange Nacht der Museen event earlier tonight, and I'm happy to report that we had quite a lot of fun. The basic idea is that for €12, you have a free pass to all of Stuttgart's museums, including other sites like the famed TV Tower and the Wilhema zoo & botanical gardens, complete with special shuttles running between all the sites. It sounded like a good idea, and we had heard about it before but didn't go, so we decided to take advantage of it this time.
We met our friends at Schlossplatz, and walked over to the Staatsgalerie for our first stop. We purchased our tickets there, and soon we were inside perusing through the impressive building's collections. I guessed they must have closed off portions of the museum due to the sheer number of people showing up, because it seemed as though many sections of the Staatsgalerie were off limits. Nonetheless, we were able to wander through several rooms of modern art, a handful of impressionist work, and a room entirely devoted to Picasso, including two very interesting works from his "blue period." I wasn't an art history major, but I thought some of the modern stuff on display tonight was somewhat dubious as to it's artness (think a solidly black canvas or a pink flourescent tube light). However, the rest of the museum was fairly nice, although I did think they should have opened more to the crowds.
We exited after about an hour, and decided to go to the Wilhema. We had some confusion (along with lots of Germans) as to what shuttles ran to which places (see http://www.lange-nacht.de/downloads/LNDM2006_Tourplan.pdf). After waiting around for about 30 minutes, we finally figured out where to get on the right bus. Well, the right bus came, but was completely packed, so we opted to just take the U-bahn to Wilhema.
None of us had been to Wilhema before, and it was definitely the highlight of the night. We entered Wilhema, and were immediately transported to the U.S. southwest by way of an elegant greenhouse filled with all sorts of cactii. Several greenhouses later, we had seen tropical plants, tons of orchids, azaleas, and much more. The greenhouses themselves reminded me, in terms of style, vintage, and quality, of the great greenhouses in London's famed Kew Gardens (Kew's greenhouses outnumber those at Wilhema). After the greenhouses we were treated to a small, but still interesting, aquarium / terrarium, where a staff member was wrapping a giant constricting python around patrons' necks.
By this time it was 12:15am, and unfortunately we had to forfeit the rest of the Wilhema so that we could catch the U-bahn back home.
I was really impressed with the event, even though we were only able to see two of the numerous different sites. It's a great idea to get Stuttgarters out of their homes to discover all the great things that Stuttgart has to offer. It's just too easy on any other day or night to put off visiting a museum or the zoo. I think just going tonight wet all of our appetites about the cultural attractions around Stuttgart, and I'm looking forward to having more time at Wilhema - it would be very nice to leisurely stroll through during the day.
I think these events happen every 2-3 months, and I highly recommend all you Stuttgarters out there to go take advantage of it.