By Tara Pepper
Visiting a great museum doesn't have to mean enduring crowded lines of pretentious would-be art connoisseurs in bustling cities. A plethora of smaller galleries lurk near windswept beaches, in idyllic rustic villages, and other out-of-the-way locales, and many house remarkable treasures. NEWSWEEK suggests stopping by a few of the best:
The striking Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, set among sweeping lawns and ancient trees on Denmark's windswept North Zealand coast, was established in 1958 to elaborate the connection between visual art, architecture
and landscape. The museum houses well-known works by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, and its sculpture collection is particularly strong, featuring 13 of Alberto Giacometti's spiky, surrealist bronzes. In the park, visitors can admire other sculptures by the likes of Alexander Calder and Joan Miró, and marvel at their juxtaposition with the trees, grass and water ( louisiana.dk , €11.90).
A short walk from Croatia's unspoiled Adriatic beaches, Dubrovnik's War Photo Limited gallery provides a haunting reminder of the horrors of recent global history. Current exhibits include Noel Quidu's unflinching look at the violent rebel overthrow of Charles Taylor's government in Monrovia, Liberia, in 2003 ( warphotoltd.com , free admission).
Perched on a cliff overlooking Cornwall's Porthmeor Beach, the Tate St. Ives' s elegant, white-painted galleries are filled with light reflected from the Atlantic Ocean outside. The Tate's main collection consists of local artists who explored the rugged Cornish landscape; gems include Tony O'Malley's stark abstracts and sculptor Barbara Hepworth's studio and garden, which are filled with her powerful, large-scale outdoor pieces ( tate.org.uk/stives ).
Nearly every piece in Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum is worth lingering over--from delicately illustrated medieval manuscripts and the extensive collection of works by Peter Paul Rubens to paintings by impressionist masters such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir ( fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk ).
4 Hours in . . . CARTAGENA
Colombia's colonial port city is a historical jewel along the Caribbean coast. Enjoy refreshing sea breezes as you wander the cobblestone streets of this romantic locale.
SEE Catedral , which was finally completed in 1612, after being partially destroyed by Sir Francis Drake's cannons in 1586. Slight alterations have been made since, but the church has maintained much of its original splendor.
DRINK Caribbean-style cocktails and munch on tapas at Café del Mar ( cafedelmarcolombia.com ) while taking in spectacular city and ocean views.
STROLL around the historical old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take in the colonial architecture and then watch an impromptu drum-and-dance show in the Parque de Bolivar .
A mere three kilometers away from the haughtiness of Paris, this restaurant is well worth the trip. After all, who could ask for more than creative cookery set in a contemporary art museum? The nine-month-old MAC/VAL museum is the first temple for contemporary art in Paris's suburbs, better known for their social unrest than their art.
Ambience: The terrace is perfectly suited to a warm summer night. Brightly colored metal tables ornament the patio in the grassy courtyard just behind the museum. Oddly, the soft glow of the lights from a nearby housing project lends even more warmth.
Food: The "miniatures" menu offers ten small dishes--the grilled swordfish with ratatouille spring roll and mint pistou wins hands down--while the "Zoom" menu zooms in on one of the evening's miniature dishes in a richer, fuller-size version.
Wine: Ask the knowledgeable waiters for advice when choosing from the broad selection of French wines. Or take ours: the light, organic red Bourgueil La Dilettante 2005 at €27 per bottle.
Dessert: The delightful Ile Flottante--a "floating island" of fluffy meringue topped with Smurf-blue crème anglaise--is the second best way for anyone to end a perfect French evening.
Prized by collectors of fine art, the creative work of Steve Richardson evokes a vast array of emotions through intricate geometric designs. But his compositions are not paintings. They're jigsaw puzzles designed on canvases of hand-cut cherry wood. His best heirlooms are designed to "torment" and "torture" (his words) the mind. One piece, Champ ($395; stave.com ), features a dizzying 44-piece blue sea monster with 32 different contortions--the only correct version is the one in which it eats his own tail. The limited-edition Dollhouse Village ($17,995) is a chaotic concoction of colors. And Palace of Pranks ($1,495) displays a haunted castle The trick to solving this puzzle? Use your head.
Tune in and work out. Nike and Apple recently launched the Nike+iPod Sport Kit--an in-shoe wireless sensor that sends info on time, distance, pace and calories straight to the iPod's receiver. Synch workout data through nikeplus.com, and track your progress ( nike.com and apple.com ; Nike+ shoes from $85, Sport Kit $29).
Personal-training programs for portable players have taken off, too. California's iTrain offers downloadable workouts combined with music programming ( itrain.com ).
And now you can take your players just about anywhere. In September, H2O Audio will debut a new Outdoor casing line for the iPod Nano, intended to protect your player under the most rugged conditions: think skiing, rock climbing and all-terrain sports. The company also offers waterproof cases and headphones for MP3 players that work underwater. Surfing and diving never sounded so good ( h2oaudiocom ).
Morticia meets Milan this season as the skull and crossbones--typically associated with death, toxins and pirates--is resurrected in the fashion world. Even though Alexander McQueen originally made such macabre designs chic in 2003 with his silk chiffon skull scarf, the much anticipated release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" this summer has given the motif new momentum. Jeweler Lizzie Scheck offers up a diamond-encrusted skull-and-crossbones necklace available in white, yellow or rose 14-karat gold ($1,445; lizziescheck.com ). Ralph Lauren sells black velvet men's slippers that boast silver bones embroidery ($695; polo.com ), while Christian Dior's "Tête de Mort" fine jewelry collection features 18-karat white-gold skull cuff links with mini diamond teeth ($3,800; christiandior.com ). And Urban Outfitters sets out to make traveling hip--albeit slightly grim--with its black-and-white skull-embroidered wheel-away suitcase ($98; urbanoutfitters.com ). From the looks of it, this trend won't die any time soon.