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China Invades the Northeast: 5 Not-to-Miss Exhibits

Then & Now: Photographs of Northern China

In 1908-9, art collector and explorer, Sterling Clark, and naturalist, Arthur deCarle Sowerby, spent 17 months caravanning across Northern China. With a team of scientists and specialists, the explorers were on a mission to collect artifacts and biological material from a territory that until then remained a blank spot for scientific inquiry on the world map. The rich findings of their odyssey have given rise to three exhibitions at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and one at the Explorers Club in New York City

Through Shên-Kan: Sterling Clark in China (until Sept. 16), documents the crossing through China–preserved animals discovered during the trek, photographs, equipment, and paperwork from the journey are on loan from the Smithsonian and gathered from the Clark’s own collection—much of which have never before been seen by the public.

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Olympic Uniforms: Fashion Designers Go For The Gold at London 2012

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Olympic style has improved exponentially since the days of ankle length tennis skirts, barely there basketball shorts, and that loud, tie-dye Grateful Dead getup from 1992.

Today we're seeing scientific designs in the form of aerodynamic apparel made with performance enhancing fabrics for everything from cycling to the long-jump. And lately, international fashion powerhouses have been collaborating with teams to dress athletes in competition and at rest, while others are stitching Olympic-inspired duds for the less athletically inclined.

The ubiquitous Karl Lagerfeld is hawking a limited edition line for a pop-up shop at Selfridges, the quintessential British department store on Oxford St., while ultra-hip boutique Opening Ceremony has opened one in fashion-conscious Covent Garden, with prêt-à-porter pieces created with the games in mind.

Plenty of London 2012 athletes will be dressed to the nines as well: Team USA will be wearing Ralph Lauren for what will be the third time at the games this year. The garments have already caused quite a stir for being made in China.

The Italians will be the heavyweights of luxury uniform design however. Prada has sponsored the Italian sailing team while Salvatore Ferragamo designed the formal wear for the Republic of San Marino and Ermanno Scervino created a colorful kit for the Republic of Azerbaijan. EA7, Armani’s sportswear line is providing both formal and sporting attire for the entire Italian team, including uniform jackets with the words of "Il Canto degli Italiani," the country's national anthem, embroidered inside the jacket.

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Hosting Team GB will be kitted out in Stella McCartney, who collaborated with Adidas on the project. The event gear features deconstructed Union Jacks and are made with high-tech PowerWEB and ClimaCool fabrics. The final product is rather sleek, which is more than I can say for the approximately 8000 volunteer London ambassadors who will be wearing grotesque pink and mauve tracksuits around town. Eek.

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Hermès is providing a blue riding jacket with red lapels for the French equestrian team, and Japanese athletes will be outfitted in local fabrics by the iconic national department store, Takashimaya. The Jamaican track and field team, led by world record holder Usain Bolt, will be sporting second-skins by Cedella Marley (daughter of Bob) developed in collaboration with Puma, and will likely be on the podium again this year with a slew of medals in tow.
 
Not all the designers will go home winners though (some athletes will look like flight attendants, while other outfits will just leave you scratching your head). But I think I'll leave you with a few surprises for the Opening Ceremony tomorrow. Let the games begin!

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Marguerite A. Suozzi is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.





Photos courtesy of Ralph Lauren; Adidas; Japan Olympic Committee.

Arts and Ideas Flood New Haven at International Festival

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If you're looking for a quick family outing from Boston or New York between now and June 30th, hop a train to New Haven, Connecticut, and visit the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

The two-week festival, which brought in $20 million, and more than 100,000 visitors last year, has a diverse program of concerts, dance performances, plays, art installations and culinary tours this year, taking place at more than two dozen venues around the city. Eighty percent of the festival events are free.

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Doc on Chinese Activist-Artist Opens Human Rights Watch Film Festival in NYC

The 23rd annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival kicked off Friday night with the New York premiere of journalist and first-time director Alison Klayman’s documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Intriguing as much as it is troubling, the film—which won audiences over at Sundance this year—looks at the life of the artist and political activist who pushes China to grapple with its own social and political shortcomings, and challenges the government’s capricious, heavy-handed approach to silencing political dissent.

For the next two weeks Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater will be festival HQ, hosting a series of new films (14 New York debuts), panel discussions with experts and filmmakers, and an exhibition by South African photographer Brent Stirton, which investigates rights abuses committed against residents living near Papua New Guinea’s Porgera gold mine.

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History Colorado Center Opens in Denver

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Late last month Denver’s newest museum, the History Colorado Center opened the first phase of its three-tiered reveal to the 90,000 visitors they expect in their first year.  Designed to share 10,000 years worth of stories and artifacts about the state and its people, at the same time the museum successfully looks forward to the future with high-tech exhibits and a hands-on experience for a new generation of museum-goers,  bringing history to life, and having fun in the process. Night at the Museum anyone?  Well, maybe not quite.

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Denver Art Museum Hosts Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective

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On display at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) until July 8th is the first exhibition to provide a glimpse into the life and achievement of Yves Saint Laurent, one of the 20th-century's most celebrated fashion designers.

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World's Most Exotic Cooking Oils

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More and more exotic oils are popping up every day, making it easy to sample terroirs from around the world. Here, five that topped our taste test.

Austria
The Oil: Pumpkin Seed
Why: Locals have long sworn by this nutritional extra-virgin variety.
The Source: It’s extracted from a green-and-orange pumpkin native to the Styrian region.
Buy: Austria’s Finest, Naturally; 8.5 fl. oz. for $16.99.

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Last-Minute Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach

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To celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 1-4) inaugurates new collaborations with the Bass Museum of Art and the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, which promise to transform the cultural land- and soundscape of South Beach – extending beyond the Miami Beach Convention Center (ABMB’s venue), where more than 260 top galleries from across the globe showcase 2,000 modern and contemporary artists.  There’s an admission charge for the fair (not to mention the price of the art), but plenty outdoors is free. Here's our what-not-to miss guide, plus recommendations for last-minute hotel booking.

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Gaultier Exhibit Opens in Dallas

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It might come as a surprise to some that the first exhibition devoted to an appraisal of the career of Jean Paul Gaultier should take place in Dallas, but Dallas is a stylish town (the headquarters of Neiman Marcus) and one of only two U.S. venues for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

The show, which just opened at the Dallas Museum of Art (through February 12; dma.org), presents 35 years of chic from the enfant terrible of Paris couture in an innovative—sometimes startling—display that includes 30 mannequins with animated faces and voices, including Gaultier himself, provided by audio-visual projection. Fashion comes alive!

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Urban Design Exhibition Opens at the United Nations

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The United Nations estimates that by 2030, nearly five billion people will live in cities around the world – about 40% of whom are projected to be occupying informal settlements, or slums, in over-saturated global metropolises. Add to this the finding that already today, approximately 90% of the world’s population is surviving with little to no access to fundamental goods and services.

Design With the Other 90%: Cities” (405 E 42nd St., October 15 - January 9, 2012), an exhibition marking a first-time collaboration between the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the United Nations in New York, sheds light on the role of architecture, infrastructure, and alternative energy sources in creating progressive solutions to the challenges facing city dwellers and planners, resulting from unprecedented population growth and rapid urbanization.

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