Museums

Portrait of Sylvette 1954

I had the chance to go see the collection at the McNay Museum in San Antonio, Texas, and I just had to collect a few images and write about what I saw.

The McNay has a wonderful collection, and I'm starting with one of the Picassos they have because why not? Portrait of Sylvette is an excellent piece of cubism and I very much enjoyed seeing how these paintings were presented. The whole visit was enhanced by the fact that this is a museum that does everything the right way. You can walk through the exhibits, sit down, and relax. I highly recommend going.

Flooding at the Louvre

It would be the height of stupidity for the curators at the Louvre to "forget" to move the Mona Lisa:

The "Mona Lisa" will stay dry on her upper floor in the Louvre as museums in Paris scramble to protect their world-famous artworks and artifacts from deadly floods.

Flooding in France and Germany has killed 11 people as of Friday -- 10 of them in southern Germany and one on the outskirts of Paris -- and has caused chaos in the French capital, which shut down several busy train lines and part of its metro, adding to the congestion on its roads.

"Due to the level of the river Seine, the Musée du Louvre will be exceptionally closed to the public on June 3, 2016 to ensure the protection of the works located in flood zones. We apologize for any inconvenience caused," the museum said on its website.

I know that we live in an era where our elites are peopled with incompetent boobs, but this is just too much. The priceless artworks will be protected (barring some unimaginable wall of water that overwhelms the facility) but it's the lesser known stuff that could end up getting short shrift. Museums are, typically, in possession of vast amounts of artwork that never gets displayed. Much of this work is damaged when it is warehoused improperly. I hope they're not forgetting to check the basement.

Situated Cognition and Art


This makes sense to me--the brain absorbs art and creative material in a number of different ways, but the space and context of a museum trumps that of a flat digital screen format.

The point though, is that what do museums do now that they have digitized their collections? There are tremendous works of art that are too fragile to display and there isn't enough space on the floor for the typical museum to display what they have in their collections. Digitization was supposed to preserve and expand that which could not otherwise be enjoyed. It turns out, museums should have been expanding their space and looking for ways to display fragile materials. At least it does from the viewpoint of an enhanced experience.

Take a Cultural Treasure Away From the British


Kelly Clarkson has been gracious, but there's no reason why she has had to be. Her decision to accept the sale of Jane Austen's ring back to the English speaking people of what they call Great Britain now is admirable. I come down on the side of history. Let the highest bidder walk away with items that are privately owned.

The British government has appropriated untold numbers of treasures from other countries. Sending back the cultural artifacts of Greece alone would involve removing massive numbers of items and sending them back to the Greece. And we're having a conniption about one ring?

The conqueror and the thief have reigned for thousands of years and now we're going to deny the purchasing power of the pop princess who wants to take something she's willing to pay for home with her? Something is a little out of whack here.

Tourists Have Always Been Hard on the Valuables


It would be easy to generate a wave of phony outrage about this incident, and I'm not going to do that.

No, the poor dummy should not have touched the statue. Never touch anything older than the United States of America. Yes, he's going to have to pay a restoration fee. The Italians have no money to maintain and restore their rapidly aging and deteriorating treasures.

Let's have a bit of perspective, however. This is not as bad as World War II, which destroyed countless treasures. This is not as bad as merely carting the thing off (the English, for example, have taken possession of almost everyone's treasures and have no intention of returning them). This is not as bad as letting an old lady "fix" the thing. This is not as bad as renting a hammer and a chisel in order to break off a few loose pieces (Stonehenge, to name an example). And it's not as bad as deliberately attacking the statue with the intent of destroying it (vandalism, throwing paint on things, hitting them with hammers, etc.)

So, as bad as this seems, it's not that bad. Give the guy a break.