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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki

Lucas Cranach the Elder,  Portrait of a Young Woman, 1525

I do love a house museum and this was a good one to visit in Helsinki.  I found it after reading all the positive reviews on TripAdvisor and I have to say they were right - this is a charming place and well worth visiting.  Constructed by Nikolai Sinebrykhov, the successful businessman and brewer in the mid-Nineteenth Century, the house represents the interiors of the time, reflecting the taste and milieu of the Russian-speaking elite. The collection of Old Masters, miniatures, furniture and decorative objects was donated to the state in 1921 when the building was converted into a museum.
They have done a good job of dividing the museum between a gallery section displaying the important art works and  public rooms illustrating how the  Sinebrychoffs family would have know the house, see above and below.
There is a large collection of furniture and decorative arts including furniture, sculpture, portraits, fine china, rugs, mirrors and clocks displayed in situ. You can clearly see the influence of French Empire furniture, apparently several pieces came from the Imperial court in St Petersburg. However, I felt none were as fine as those you'd see in Paris, as you can see in the detailing below.
There is a large collection of portraits, some in oils and others in pastel. As you can see they are hung in a "postage stamp" style on the walls. It's very evocative and quite charming.

I particularly liked the study below.
In addition to the formal rooms is this dining room below. Interestingly I've seen a rug used on the table like the one below in several Dutch period paintings. 
In addition to the  decorative arts and furniture there is an extensive collection of miniatures displayed separately.
These were my favorite works from the galleries which include works from the Sinebrychoffs along with additional bequests. I believe this is the most significant collection of Old Masters in Finland.
It's always interesting to see paintings of paintings, galleries and collectors, as you can see below.
The Sinebrychoff is free and well worth exploring. It's only a short walk from the center of Helsinki and backs right not a park where a flea markets is held on the weekend. Well worth exploring for fans of art and decorative interiors.