In the fall on 2021 I studied abroad in Belfast in the north of Ireland. While abroad I received a Travel Enrichment Grant to travel to Derry and Glasgow, Scotland. Both cities are recipients of the European Capital of Culture Award. In October I traveled to Derry from Belfast by train which was about two hours each way. While in Derry I went to the Tower Museum and explored free Derry. Derry is a city rich with history of the conflict that happened here in the north and the museum exemplifies the history of conflict and the art that came out of it. In the late 60’s Derry was a place of war, and it wasn’t until the early 21st century that people have begun to see peace. Since then, Derry has rebuilt the city hosting concerts and events and creating museums and galleries to display not only modern art but historical pieces. After the museum I was able to explore Derry and “Free Derry”. This helped me to deepen my understanding of the conflict which happened in the North of Ireland and learn from both sides.
In early November I traveled to Glasgow, Scotland which also received the European Capital of Culture Award. I flew from Belfast into Glasgow and while there I went to the Gallery of Modern Art. The gallery is a beautiful mix of old architecture mixed with new and modern art. When going to the Gallery of Modern Art it was not what I expected it to look like on the outside. Once you step inside it is like jumping from the 16th century right into the 21st. Parts of the Gallery do hold older paintings and artwork but most of the gallery is different exhibitions and modern art.
The art between both cities was vastly different. Much of Derry's art was based on their history and the conflict while Glasgow was showcasing modern art and the less historical side. I found this interesting since both cities are around the same age, but Derry’s history seems much fresher. Visiting the Tower Museum in Derry helped me with my project last semester, and I was able to further my view as an outsider. Much of what I learned in Derry I use frequently when commenting on issues in the north or reflecting on other students work. The Gallery of Modern Art is one of the first Modern Art museums I have visited, and it gave me a new perspective on what art is. I am a better student because of these experiences, and I am forever grateful to have received the Travel Enrichment Grant.