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Museums below the radar

Post #832 • July 18, 2006, 4:06 PM • 25 Comments

It's still 97 degrees out, but the wind has picked up, blowing around a few thoughts about yesterday, when a couple of commenters mentioned art collections I hadn't heard of: the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, just north of Toronto. Just as New England seems surprisingly underserved by art writers, it also lacks an easy directory to its art museums, or none that Googling in heatstroke-inducing weather can turn up. What's your favorite underknown New England museum? What the heck, let's throw in the mid-Atlantic and eastern Canada, and I'll build a little directory for them myself. It's too hot for criticism.




July 18, 2006, 4:30 PM

Franklin, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown MA. has quite a few gems. It's free admission as well ( from what I remember ). The museum moved to Williamstown from N.Y. city because of fear of nuclear attack.



July 18, 2006, 4:49 PM

you need to re-link the hillstead it's not connected.



July 18, 2006, 4:53 PM

Thanks, 1. It's fixed.



July 18, 2006, 8:11 PM

the clark is my boyhood museum. very nice. also in williamstown the williams college museum has pollack right now. the bennington museum has the best grandma moses collection. the hyde in glens falls is excellent. the tang in saratoga (skidmore). mass moca in north adams. troy has the arts center of the capital region.

there is so much.



July 18, 2006, 8:33 PM

And what do we have in the major international metropolis and so-called art city of Miami? Uh, not a hell of a lot, despite embarrassing fits of boosterism and/or delusion from various questionable quarters. Well, I suppose we do have plenty of Rosenquist, watered down Rauschenberg, a never-ending stream of starlets du jour, and the unholy grail of Basel, among other dubious wonders. Real nourishment, however, is not exactly plentiful.



July 18, 2006, 9:47 PM

I agree with you Jack
It is to bad that MAM is not a very diverse collecting museum
will I ever see a Monet in the collection of MAM
I think NOT

I did see a beautiful Monet at the Samuel P. Harn Museum in Gainsville
They have a nice collection and just added a contemporary art Pavilian that was impressive
better then anything you will see in miami



July 18, 2006, 9:55 PM

Yes, the cultural climate does seem too hot for art criticism. Hot like stolen goods or a soldier under fire.



July 18, 2006, 10:56 PM

but art basel was pretty hot last year. that is your best museum show going forward. as it appears, it will indefinitely.

currently i am in atlanta. although we do not have a great permanent collection at the high, we are fortunate to have put on some very good shows. morris louis is on exhibit this fall 2006. the high has 2 pieces of his hanging currently. most of the south was too poor or short-sighted to put collections together before things got crazy expensive.


just plain annoyed

July 19, 2006, 9:24 AM

Yes, the museums have bad collections in Miami. Yes, the galleries are full of The Beautiful People. (though there are a handful of exceptionoally talented gems in the rough..But, y'all are too busy yapping off about this & that to notice..)
so, save up some of that cash you spend on Bud LIghts every friday night
and take a $99 flight to NYC every once in a while.Go to LA, go to Washington DC.Hell, even a transatlantic over to Paris or London.
No money? No problem. Get a credit card and max it out on something beneficial like travel. Get a sugar daddy. Or sugar momma. Steal, beg, borrow. Just do everything possible to get out of town every once in a while.

it'll do wonders for you, Jack. Maybe you'll even quit your unproductive complaining, even for a little while.



July 19, 2006, 10:06 AM

The Clark Art Institute is free only in the off-season (November to May.) During the tourist months, it's $10 for adult admission, and worth every penny. One of the most freakin' gorgeous museums anywhere, though I'm not sure I'd call it "underknown" or below the radar; it's pretty famous (of course, you know which one I would single out, but it's not really unknown at the level Franklin was discussing, either.) Closer to Boston, I've never even been to the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, but it looks like it has an interesting collection (although I see they're temporarily closed.)

I used to know people who would rave about the collection at the Hill-Stead, though sadly, I've never been. Smith College Museum of Art has many fine things, though again, within the category of academic museums, it's actually pretty well-known. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller, a National Park in Vermont, and formerly a private estate, has a small but important collection of American landscapes, including a number of Hudson River School paintings.

A few other favorites, with no concern for their obscurity: the Currier (also currently closed for renovation, unfortunately), Portland, the Peabody Essex, and, of course, RISD. I'll try and think of others that are a little more off the beaten track.



July 19, 2006, 10:31 AM

Also, another National Park site: Weir Farm in CT. Okay, not exactly the greatest collection of paintings, but a beautiful place, and of historical interest for anyone curious about American Impressionism. There's also the Fruitlands Museum, which has a large number of Hudson River School paintings, as well as a wide collection of early American art and historic New England artefacts. Beautiful location, too. Not to everyone's taste, perhaps, but a really interesting place and collection.



July 19, 2006, 10:41 AM

Thanks, #9. I'll start boning up on my gigolo skills. Your response, however, is curiously reminiscent of "If the people have no bread, let them eat cake." Very inspiring.



July 19, 2006, 11:46 AM

On the web site of the American Assiciation of Museums

You can find both a list of accredited list of museums and a "find a museum" menu which enables you to search by location.

Yes, Jack, do find a rich companion to fly you around to museums. Maybe then you will care less about our dearth of culture and instead of unhelpful things like "our museums suck" you will say vastly more helpful things, like "wow, our museums are the best!"

Just as an aside - "Let them eat cake" is one of those reasons not to trust history. Marie Antoinette not only did not say it (the closest thing anyone can find is something Rousseau wrote before she was even queen) but no one seems to have any idea how and when it got attributed to her.



July 19, 2006, 12:36 PM

I know she didn't say it, OP; that's why I didn't mention her name. It's obvious, however, how it would have been most useful to some people to pin it on her, even if it was a total fabrication. It served its purpose, which is all some people care about.



July 19, 2006, 12:58 PM

I don't know about below the radar, but the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore is an excellent smaller museum (dedicated to mostly pre-20th century work).



July 19, 2006, 11:05 PM

here's a nice little gem of a place:



July 20, 2006, 9:41 AM

One of my favorite little oddball museums around here is the Slater Museum at the Norwich Free Academy in southeastern Connecticut. They have what once filled any ambitious museum, not to mention royal and great private collections: plaster casts of the famous sculptures of Greece and Rome. They've got practically all the old favorites, from the Parthenon frieze (and its east pediment) to the Laocoön to the Pergamon. They even have my favorite, the Nike Paionios. The Museum also has other collections of various odds and ends--early American art, 19th century landscapes, some Asian art, various old things of all kinds--but the cast collection is the star. It's both fascinating to see in itself, and as a chapter in the history of taste.



July 25, 2006, 12:43 AM

Hey Franklin, I know some people who could help you out with your “BIG” idea of having an online art directory up north. But only if you like, however, I know so many other people down south who will deeply enjoy knowing about your lack of self-initiative and copycat capabilities. Remember me? Realm forever, be a man and post this.



July 25, 2006, 7:38 AM

I remember you, Realm.



July 25, 2006, 2:47 PM

Good. Don't forget.



July 25, 2006, 3:00 PM

Forget what?



July 26, 2006, 6:20 PM

Realm. What goes around comes around. When it does, I want you to know where it is coming from.



July 26, 2006, 6:52 PM

Realm, I'm going to give you a little advice, based on some hard experience. No matter whom we think is the enemy, the real adversary is looking at us from the other side of the mirror. Until you deal with that guy, he's going to mess you up over and over again. Best wishes to you.



July 27, 2006, 4:07 PM

Save your best for your best enemy whoever it may be. Little... could save it for your little friends. Hope you will.


david rohn

July 29, 2006, 9:12 AM

Did anyone mention the Hartford Atheneum small but interesting perm collection and visiting shows of good curatorial values as I remember it.
The thing about Miami Museums is that both are focused (see official missions of MOCA and MAM)on art since WW2 so no you won t see Monet (or Turner Manet Rodin or any of the pre WW2 ash can school/New York School. But you can see that in Spades at the Brooklyn Museum. (the Whitney has them too but in the basement)) These artists like Hart Benton,Marsden HartleyWalt Kuhn and others who s names I forget laid the fndt'n for Pollock Warhol, Johns et al. For this artist these guys are fascinating- they d assimilated things like Mondrian and Duchamp (who ended their lives in New York also before WW2)-and alot of the assumptions of modernism were set down between the wars as well as after WW2.And although Europeans are loth to admit it ,I can t see how you d separate the Ash Can School of New York and the early work of Rauschenburg Cunningham and Cage in the '50/s and '60's (not to mention Ginsberg and Kerouac from what the Euros call Arte Povera-a (like all others)European contribution to world culture..An exciting time that makes the present look a little sleepy not least because we just turned the corner on a new century I mean could we be a little more forward looking or has the art investment thing made it all alot more about aesthetic safety and less about risk.
I wasn t there but the French are convinced that Marie Antoinette suggested that the masses eat brioche it s not cake really but a kind of fancy bread Maybe like dinner rolls or muffins, or focaccioi.



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