Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brooklyn Museum of Art: Eastern Parkway

So about 12 years ago I had won a free 1 year subscription to the Brooklyn Museum of Art and never bothered to even look it up.  Ok, so the internet was not as big and I was working so feverishly that I hardly had time to breathe let alone visit a museum, but still.... I have been wanting to correct this omission for a while now and I finally did last Sunday (they are closed on Mondays; see Brooklyn Museum Info).

I was shocked to find that the Brooklyn Museum of Art is like the Metropolitan Museum in scope and perhaps even in scale (see photo at the top of the Greek revival and modern exterior) but with a quirky Brooklyn style and focus.  They have antiquities from Ancient Egypt (yes, even a coffin and mummy board) to modern jewelry makers like Brooklyn artist Art Smith (see "Galaxy earrings and necklace at right).

They have innumerable alcoves decorated with period (1600s-early 1900s) furnishings as well as a collage piece from 32 year old artist Rashaad Newsome called "Status Symbol #20 that is a commentary about American hunger for luxe consumer goods and celebrities like L.L.Cool J. (see photo at left of the "status coat of arms" that includes race cars, Rolex watches, and other jewelry).

You can be admiring the Museum's collection of paintings by Monet, Cezanne, Pissaro, Millet, Degas, Goya, Picasso, and Manet  or looking over their extensive African or East Asian art collections while listening to the samba music piped in through the speakers in the galleries.  It is great!

They have really interesting art by women artists, but they aren't "preachy"--how refreshing!  The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is an icon of feminist art, which represents 1,038 women in history—39 women are represented by place settings (see Emily Dickenson's at right) and another 999 names are inscribed in the Heritage Floor on which the triangularly-arranged banquet table rests (see below).

Somehow, the Brooklyn Museum of Art manages to be a serious museum that doesn't take itself too seriously, and thereby they make the museum experience super enjoyable.  They are currently displaying some of their more classic paintings by theme (rather than by artist) and it is great to be able to compare portraiture, landscapes, and religious works this way.  Even though one of the five floors of the museum was closed for exhibition preparation, I thought the $10 fee was well worth it. 

You might consider making it a whole Brooklyn day by visiting the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (please see my prior blog at Brooklyn Botanic Garden Blog), which is right next door.  What a great day that would be!

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