Monday, July 13, 2009

What I'd Like to See this Summer

I always have a long list of exhibits and museums I'd like to visit--longer than I ever have time and money for. It seems like, despite the recession, there's a long list of intriguing opportunities. Some of what I'd like to see:

The new museum building and exhibits of the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City.
Although it officially doesn't open until later this year, visitors this summer can access sections of the permanent exhibition. MOCA was the place I saw one of my most memorable exhibits--about Chinese restaurants in America, and I look forward to seeing their innovative minds at work in a beautiful new space designed by Maya Lin.

Manhatta/Manhattan at the Museum of the City of New York, a natural history of Manhattan, a place that is perhaps an archetypal urban place. The website begins with a great question--in effect, the big idea for the exhibit, "Have you ever wondered what New York was like before it was a city?" The content-rich website is intriguing, with downloadable materials for teachers and an opportunity to explore the city block by block.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland. I used an article about the re-thinking of Kelvingrove in my course last spring and was fascinated by the community-based approach. Rather than chronological approaches, the museum developed themes that crossed disciplines such as Cultural Survival, Life and Expression and Conflict and Consequence. There's many images of an installation in the center hall of floating heads which make me want to visit a traditional-looking museum that would do such an installation in their main hall.

Common Threads at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. Artist Jean Shin uses castoffs to create monumental installations--her latest show includes one called Everyday Monuments using trophies donated by Washington, DC residents. You see watch the installation process through a series of photos on Flickr.

All of the renewed Brooklyn Children's Museum. I sometimes find children's museums a bit removed from the communities they're located in (except for the ubiquitous supermarket name) and I'm very interested in seeing how this always thoughtful, engaging museum has created World Brooklyn, a new exhibit that highlights the borough's incredible diversity.

And finally, not a museum exhibit but an art installation: The One and Another Project by artist Anthony Gormley on the Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. Every hour, 24 hours a day for 100 days, a person, selected via lottery, steps up to the Fourth Plinth--an empty pedestal--in Trafalgar Square to do whatever they want--and the result, perhaps, is a portrait of today's Britain. Check on the website--you can put up a picture of yourself (or your pets, or a sign that says This is not Art) on the plinth, and watch live streaming video of people on the plinth. Today, a guy in a gorilla suit, and many others! It's oddly compelling and fascinating to explore the lives of everyday people.

As I made this list, I realized what interests me today about museum exhibits is when I can see creative minds at work. Whether it's an artist, a historian, an exhibit designer, a museum educator--I like to see places where the energy of those who work there is evidenced in the way the museum chooses to interact with the public.

Given that as a criteria, what other museums and exhibits am I missing this summer?

Top to bottom
View of Manhattan, Markley Boyer/Mannahatta Project, Wildlife Conservation Society
New entrance, Museum of Chinese in the Americas, Libero Romero/New York Times
Kelvingrove, via Flickr
Jean Shin installing her work at the American Art Museum, via Flickr
World Brooklyn, from Brooklyn Children's Museum website
Plinth Postcard

1 comment:

Nina Simon said...

Thanks for the great wishlist! I'm heading to NorthEast UK in October and may try to make a special trip to Glasgow to see Kelvingrove. If I go, I'll send a full report!