Insel Hombroich, Minkel 2, 41472 Neuss (near Düsseldorf, Germany) www.inselhombroich.de (Entrance fee)
This collection of art, nature, culture and architecture is a well-kept secret. Take at least half a day to discover this park with minimalist constructions and art from all over the world. The pieces of art are not presented in a chronological or thematic way. They are installed so that they seem to engage in dialogue with each other. Some works are from renowned artists, but none of them is provided with a name. There are no guards. Nature and museum merge into one. A total experience of brick, glass, art and trees. And white. Lots of white.
A dozen of constructions are spread over the park. You have to pass through the first building when you have descended the stairs. Focus inside on the many shades of white and on the acoustics while you move along. Do the same in one of the other buildings, consisting of two circles, with a view on a buxus garden. Ask yourself in each construction what you exactly feel. Finally choose one piece of art and one building that has really stolen your heart. What’s the effect on you? How would you describe this total experience?
Pillars of happinessbeauty
A simple meal is included in the entrance fee. Rather special but very tasty. In the central cafeteria you will easily find people to share your impressions with.
a Maison Nissim de Camondo, Rue de Monceau 63, Paris, France. (Entrance fee)
This building houses beauty, love and tragedy. One of the richest bankers of his time, earl De Camondo, ordered to build it here in 1911 for his son Nissim. But the son died in the first World War. The earl was overwhelmed with grief and decided to dedicate the house to an art collection in honour of his son. The earl died in 1934. One year later the house was opened for the public. Ten years later his daughter Beatrice, her husband and their two kids died in the concentration camps of the second World War. The family line ended. The house and its decoration survived. From the kitchen to the bathrooms, all the objects tell their own story.
These are the silent witnesses of the inhabitants of a house full of life stories. Walk around and look in each room for something that draws your attention or interest. What does the object tell you? What would have been its meaning for the inhabitants? Go and look for the small wooden table, decorated with bronze and porcelain, called ‘Bonheur du jour’ (Happiness of the day). It’s used to write down your happy moments day by day. What would you write in your happiness journal of the past three days? Which objects in your own house tell us something about your personal life? Talk about it.
Pillars of happinessbeauty
There is a special app available which makes it possible to hear all the exotic birds on the porcelain plates whistle on your own smartphone. But you will probably prefer the real birds in the 18th century English park Monceau nearby: some exciting square miles full of world history: a pyramid, a Chinese pagoda and the romantic Corinthian columns around a pond. Afterwards buy an original postcard or handmade paper in the beloved stationery shop Benneton (Boulevard Malesherbes 75). Write a personal gratitude letter to someone you appreciate.