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As long-standing voices within the Gainesville and UF community, the decision to travel worldwide with the Harn Museum of Art was easy for Ken and Linda McGurn. It was so easy, in fact, the couple went on not one, but two adventures of a lifetime: the Harn Voyage to Japan in 2016, and to Spain in 2018.
“UF is part of our home,” says Linda. “We are inspired by what it does for the community through art, outreach, research, healthcare - the list goes on.”
The McGurn’s are quick to point out the behind-the-scenes access a travel program such as the Harn Voyage can provide even the most experienced traveler. “We were taken to out-of-the-way places that were not on the ordinary traveler’s itinerary,” says Linda.
“The Harn goes deeper,” they both agree. “You get to experience art without fifty people standing in front of you.”
This was particularly meaningful to Linda while admiring one of her favorite works of art, Guernica by Pablo Picasso, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. “The private tours we went on aren’t your everyday tours. You meet and interact with museum staff, sometimes the director. It’s truly unique to see them in action, where their expertise is on display, and you realize how hard it is to make these world-class facilities what they are," Ken says.
With five-star hotel accommodations and reservations at Michelin star restaurants, the Harn Voyage offers luxury in addition to access. “Everything was top of the line,” explains Ken. “We stayed in some of the most upscale places. Every meal was highlighted by first-class food and wine.”
If traveling with strangers brings you concern, the McGurn’s will quickly convince you otherwise.
“It was great being with friends of the University and sharing these experiences. You’re already connected through art and UF; these trips allow you to build better connections. You get to know the people who make the University what it is,” Linda shares.
For prospective travelers, the couple emphasized the importance of registering early, especially if you are traveling with friends. And if you’re not, “you’ll be traveling with people whom you will find you have many shared interests. It’s fun getting to know one another,” says Ken.
“These trips have allowed us to appreciate what we’ve seen and to bring it home,” he concludes.
The Harn’s third Harn Voyage to Spain was inspired by the Museum’s modern and contemporary collections. In addition to exploring museums, galleries and private collections, travelers spoke with architects and immersed themselves in local history with tours of each city. Participants enjoyed five-star accommodations at The Majestic and the Westin Palace Hotel and were within walking distance to restaurants and shopping.
Trip Highlights: Barcelona Cathedral, the Picasso Museum, Palau de la Musica, Sagrada Família, the Museo Nacional de Catalunya, the Royal Palace, the Goya Museum, the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Museum and much more.
Inspiration from the Harn’s Asian Art Collection and the exhibition, "Into the Fold: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Horvitz Collection" (October 7, 2014 – July 15, 2016), brought travelers to Japan for the second Harn Voyage. The trip began in Kyoto, detoured to Naoshima and Teshima for two days before spending the last three days in Tokyo. Harn Curator of Asian Art, Jason Steuber, joined the group on their tours of temples, gardens, traditional artists’ studios and museums, providing additional perspective and conversation to travelers.
Trip Highlights: Buddhist Temple of Sanjusangendo, Nishiki Market, Ryoanji Garden, the Chichu Museum, Naoshima Art House Project, the Lee Ufan Museum, the Teshima Art Musuem, the Meiji Shrine at Yoyogi Park, the Nezu Museum, shopping on Omotesando, the Nozomi Shinkansen bullet train and much more.
Inspired by the Harn’s exhibition "Monet and American Impressionism" (February 3, 2015 to May 25, 2015), travelers on the inaugural Harn Voyage trip enjoyed a magical trip to Paris. Visits to artists’ studios, galleries, private collections, focused on impressionism throughout Paris. In addition to enjoying the finest cuisine, travelers found their accommodations at Le Meurice both tranquil and ideally placed near sights and shopping.
Trip Highlights: Le Jeu de Paume, the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Rodin Museum, the Musée Marmottan-Monet, the Musée du Louvre, the studios of Charles-Francois Daubigny and Jean Michel Othoniel, the Marais and Place des Vosges, and much more.