Visiting art museums this year

Aug 21, 2011

Last evening, Malia accompanied me to the Triangle Tweetup at the North Carolina Museum of Art. It was a beautiful summer evening, and the outside gathering between the museum’s older building and the new wing was a perfect way to meet some friends (Bora and Catherine, Karyn and Mark) and spend some time with my daughter.

I hadn’t been to the museum in a few years, and so this was my first time seeing the new galleries. I was initially shocked seeing the new building as I drove onto the campus at dusk — it smacked of a FedEx distribution warehouse, seeming more like a big box set down in what once was a green lawn. But once inside, I was astonished at the flowing beauty of the galleries. Malia and I walked around for 20 minutes or so, and decided we need to return with sketchbooks and pencils and more time. I suspect arriving in daylight will give me a different, better perspective of the exterior, too.

I’m on an art museum kick, of late.

In May, when I was in Chicago (to discuss social media at the University of Chicago), I had a few hours to myself before I met my college buddy Mike Thomas for dinner downtown, so I wandered through Millenium Park and then into the Art Institute of Chicago, which also had built a brilliant new wing since I’d last been through. Loved it, although not being able to get a pot of tea at the second-floor cafe — 45 minutes before cafe closing time was some arbitrary cutoff for brewed tea — inspired me to stop by and fill out a comment card (still unanswered) to share my mixed experience. Still, can’t wait to get back to Chicago, the park and the institute.

And earlier this year, I was accompanied by Anna on a trip to New York City to attend Science Online NYC. We had a full day to tour the city, so we started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where my favorite space was the Chinese Garden Court:

When I was in Cleveland in June, I wanted to get to the Cleveland Museum of Art — it, too, is expanding. I would have beelined for my favorite painting, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons by J.M.W. Turner, and then wandered over to peer at The Large Plane Trees by Vincent van Gogh. That was the work that my John Carroll University art history professor, Robert Getscher, took us to (my art history class met each Wednesday evening at the museum), instructed us to lean in and look closely, and observe the faint hint of a red-and-white checkered pattern. “Van Gogh was so poor that he used a restaurant tablecloth for his canvas,” I recall Getscher telling us.

Next month, I’ll be in London for Science Online London. I’m planning to visit the Tate Modern.

Anton Zuiker

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