Hidden gems and highlights to see at the Brooklyn Museum

Thousands of beautiful works make Brooklyn's pay-what-you-wish museum a must-visit

The Brooklyn Museum lives at the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum stop of the 2 and 3 trains. Over five floors, permanent and rotating exhibits span centuries of painting, sculpture, photography, furniture, Korean art, feminist art and more. Its collections tell stories of civilizations and wars, art and cultural movements, religion, philosophy and the human relationship with nature. Open Wednesday through Sunday, the Brooklyn museum is a necessary excursion (that might well become a regular destination) for any art enthusiast or human being interested in artistic creation. In addition, admission is by donation—pay what you wish—every day, so take advantage of this incredibly inexpensive museum. There is a lot to see inside. Here are some of the highlights and hidden gems that should be part of your visit.

Floor 1

The wide lobby of the museum is full of benches, bar seats and some tables that are open to public use (as is the beautiful plaza in front of the building). To the left of the ticket counter, through tall, glass sliding doors, currently sprawls the "Infinite Blue" exhibit. It showcases the color blue in a staggering variety of media and shades. One standout piece in the collection is the three-foot-long stoneware sculpture by Kishi Eiko, Shinsho fukei.

Kishi Eiko, 'Shinsho fukei'

The piece features blue clay chamotte that makes its texture looks like fabric, its shape like various pieces of paper folded together. In other, seemingly unrelated but accurate words, it bears striking resemblance to an Imperial Star Destroyer crashing into the ground.

Behind it sits Sueharu's Inifinity II, a wonderfully smooth piece of glazed, blue-green porcelain. And next to that is Jun's fierce-looking Untitled, a sculpture of fused glass and unfired clay that resembles the entrance to a frightening cave.

Vivian Beer, '"Current" Chair'

Next to this case stands a curvy blue chair: "Current" Chair by Vivian Beer. Meant to imply water, the design's swoops and divisions make it look like one piece of steel shaped into a chair. Stand anywhere near these pieces and you'll certainly notice one piece attracting lots of attention. Anish Kapoor's Pink to Mika 5 Blue hangs on the wall nearby, a circle of purplish-blue, shaped like a contact lens, that distorts your image when you stand in front of it in a way that makes walking toward it physically difficult. It's hilarious, and most people who wander up to it unknowingly let out shocked laughter and take many selfies. You'll want to, too.

Floor 2

Up the stairs or elevator to the second floor, you'll find the Korean Art exhibition. Here are some excellently strange pieces to wonder about, like Nam June Paik's Mr. Kim, a "Robot" figure constructed using old radios and featuring a tiny TV screen in its head. It's actually a portrait of Kim Yangsoo, an art collector. Ponder the past's vision of the future in its brightly-flashing chest and robot eyes.

Nam June Paik, 'Mr. Kim'

Nearby, see if you lose yourself in Lee Ufan's Correspondence, a mostly-empty canvas with three thick brush strokes that, on a compass, would mark West, North and East. For something more solid, check out the rectangular sculpture, Untitled, by Kang Seok Young.

Kang Seok Young, 'Untitled'

This two-foot monolith of unglazed porcelain is remarkable because 1.) it's unglazed and pure, matte white and 2.) Young bent and twisted the porcelain when it was nearly dry to produce impure but striking sculpture.

Floor 3

Another floor up, the space is dominated by a wide, blue-tiled square—square, as in its shape and the way it seems like a plaza in the center of the museum, a plaza that's mostly empty and that echoes your footsteps in all directions. On the walls around it hang paintings like Picasso's Woman in Gray and an exhibition of "Menacing Landscapes." Check out the landscapes by Vereschagin, Mesdag, Hamilton (James) and Colman.

Floor 4

The fourth floor is extremely exciting, with exhibitions by Ahmed Mater and Judy Chicago.

Ahmed Mater, 'Ka'aba'

Mater's exhibit, titled "Mecca Journeys," opened in December. It takes a photographic journey through the past eight years of the development of Mecca as a city trying to accommodate more than 3 million pilgrims that come during the annual Hajj season. Ka'aba is an aerial shot of the tens of thousands of pilgrims praying in the massive building that surrounds the Ka'aba. The scale of the building is epic and does justice to the importance of the pilgrimage.

Mater, 'Magnetism'

Mater's Magnetism explores the same scene in extreme, simple miniature: a black magnetic cube circled by tens of thousands of iron particles, arranged by magnetic attraction. Despite its tiny scale, the feeling of grandeur remains. Along with other photographs, like Metropolis, Walkway to Minh and Clock Tower, the entire exhibition is stunning.

Judy Chicago, 'The Dinner Party'

Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party is equally enthralling. Her work of feminist interactive art lets you walk around a triangular table on which lie thirty-nine place settings for important, historical and legendary women. Each place setting has, embroidered, the woman's name and a decorated porcelain plate symbolizing her significance. On the floor within the triangle are written the names of another 999 women. Books are available to carry into the room that have information on each of the thirty-nine women represented by place settings.

Floor 5

The fifth and top floor will, as of March 2, be home to the exhibition, "David Bowie is." Exploring his creative process through original costumes, lyric sheets, photographs and more, the installation will include music and a guided audio tour. The museum recommends buying advance tickets. The fifth floor's visible storage room is also temporarily closed, but is always an interesting journey through a museum's closet and should be reopened soon.

For now, you'll find paintings by familiar names, including Gilbert Stuart's George Washington and Thomas Cole's A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning and A Pic-Nic Party.

Max Weber, 'Russian Ballet'

Max Weber's Russian Ballet is a frantic, wild, abstract vision of the Russian ballet theater, like Rock of Ages in a painting. Frederick Arthur Bridgman's An Interesting Game presents a chess game at a Cairo cafe in the late nineteenth century. Apparently he was praised for treating his subjects in this piece as people rather than stereotypes, even though he actually painted it in his studio in Paris.

Move on from the past to the past's vision of the future with the last two highlights on the fifth floor: a coffee set and a record player. Coffee Urn, by Walter von Nessen is a old-fashioned futuristic look at what coffee breaks could and should look like. It would've been a Jetsons favorite. Across the room, John Vassos's RCA Victor Special Model K, Portable Electric Phonograph, from 1935, looks more futuristic than any briefcase-style turntable currently on sale at Urban Outfitters. It's basically an advertisement for the commercial versatility of a relatively new material: aluminum.

Keep an eye on the museum's website for upcoming exhibitions and events, and take time to explore the rest of the collection after you've experienced this small sample of art.

Tom Twardzik is a travel writer for the Journiest. He also covers music, film, TV and gaming for Popdust and contributes financial tips to Paypath. Read more on his page and follow on Twitter.

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There are several things about wine that can confuse the average person. If you haven't spent the last few years of your life learning everything there is to know about wine, you can be forgiven for picking up a box of the good stuff every now and then. However, if you want to know a little bit more about how to choose a good bottle, we can help you out. We've created a beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine so you can enjoy yourself a little more.

Know What Type of Wine To Choose

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Know How Much You're Willing To Spend

It's no secret that a penchant for wine can become an expensive hobby. If you're just getting into the idea, don't waste your time or money with the extremely pricey bottles. A good place to start looking for decent bottles of wine is somewhere between the $10 and $30 price range. This will keep you from buying something too low quality without breaking your bank in the process.

Read the Labels Closely

A good bottle of wine will often give tasting notes right on the bottle. Because everyone's palette is different, you may not get the same notes when you try the wine, but it's a good place to start. Choose something with tasting notes that you already enjoy like berries or cocoa and try to see if you get any hints of that as you drink. The labels may also tell you about the wine's acidity, or how tart it is, and the wine's body, or the way it feels in your mouth.

A beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine can only go so far without being overwhelming. The next part of your wine journey will need to be undertaken on your own. Try various types of wine and see what tastes best to you—that's what wine is really all about.

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Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

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That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!