Somebody recently asked me why most museums display only a small portion of their collections. The obvious answer is that museums have limited exhibition space, but that raises many more questions. Why do museums own so much more than they could ever hope to exhibit? Why do they keep all the objects they don't use? In this article, I'll do my best to present some of the relevant ideas as I've observed them on my art history adventures.
This post was inspired by a conversation with my cousin, who expressed frustration about feeling that she doesn't know how to approach art museums. I'm sure she's not the only person to struggle with this, so I've come up with a few strategies that I hope will help.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is located in Richmond, Virginia. Its highlights include the McGlothlin collection of American art, the Gans collection of English silver, and works by Faberge.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is a small art museum on the campus of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. The museum contains a little bit of everything, but its claim to fame is probably its many Hudson River School paintings. The rest of the collection ranges from ancient to contemporary works in small quantities.
The Cloisters is a museum of medieval art, but I think it's more than that. To me, it's also a sort of medieval fantasy land (in a good way). The museum building is neo-medieval structure that incorporates genuine pieces of Romanesque and Gothic architecture within it. Spending time there is a little like being transported to another time and place.
The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is a small museum focused on American art. It has a lovely atmosphere, and I visit at least once a year. Learn why I enjoy it in and what I saw on my most recent visit.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is one of the world's largest art museums. It's also one of my favorites. Since the museum is so big, consider one of these strategies for planning your visit.
Museum fatigue is the what happens when you overwhelm yourself during a museum visit. It can happen to anyone from causal tourists to art professionals. Here are some ways to deal with it.
The Yale Center for British Art is an entire museum dedicated to the history of British art from 1550 to the present. It's housed in an unusual, Louis I. Kahn-designed building on Yale University's campus. Learn about my experience and the museum's cool arrangement of galleries.
The Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut is home to a world-class art collection. It's free to the public and highly recommend for art lovers of all sorts. Read about my experience and the highlights here.