Three museum moments
If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you might have noticed we have a thing about museums. Art museums, history museums, design museums, national museums. We like to engage with the collections, the curatorship, the physical spaces. We like to think about how the buildings enhance, diminish or otherwise interact with their surroundings, their contents and their visitors. And so I have selected three museum moments, instances where the museum we were in at the time took an unexpected twist…
The Chinese Garden Court, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
It was my first time in the Met, and CIA was showing me around some of her favourites. Having seen some of the western art, we decided to check out some of the Asian collection. What neither of us expected at all was to stumble into the Chinese Garden Court. It was nearly empty (a stark contrast to the Impressionist paintings), so peaceful, and the conjunction of modern atrium, tiling, bamboo and rocks just took our breath away. A brilliant moment.
A staircase, Le Louvre, Paris
CIA has previously established that the Louvre has some excellent staircases. This next moment must be a rare moment in that most crowded of museums. We came to a staircase, and there was no one on it, no one near it. As we snapped the shot, a security guy walked out, but still. Oddly, what happened next was many people gathering around us, looking over the balcony, trying to see what we were looking at (nothing). They all enthusiastically followed our lead, taking pictures of a staircase. I am sure they will all one day wonder why they have a staircase picture.
But this moment really cemented the Louvre as one of my most favourite museums, anywhere.
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
There are more than a few things to write about this museum; but when we saw this next piece, several things came together serendipitously. Colour, concept and Japanese artist. The instructions next to the artwork (see postscript, below) were as good (perhaps greater than!) the art itself. Though I have spent more than a little time trying to figure out what might be written on the back. I haven’t got as far as looking anything up though, not yet anyway. We saw this after the exhibition Slow Art, and it stands in such stark, glorious contrast it confirmed everything we love and get frustrated with about art. A discussion to be had with wine, whisky, and great food — or another blog post.
Photos by CIA & PJD, in various museums, at various times. One day, PJD will try to reconcile artistic pursuits, consumer culture, guilt and a range of other complex cultural interactions (or he won’t) in a post entitled “Liking art shouldn’t make you feel bad”.
Post Script – Instructions, Kazuo Shiraga – Untitled: