1.8.2023 – spontaneous and

spontaneous and
natural not requiring
of so much effort

“In an ideal world it is not good to put limits on museum attendance as going to a museum should be spontaneous and natural and not requiring of so much effort,” he said. “Adding yet another barrier is not a good idea.”

So says Guillaume Kientz, who served for nine years as curator of Spanish and Latin American Art at the Louvre and is now the director of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York.

Mr. Kientz was talking about the recently announced 30,000 people a day who are allowed tickets to get entrance to the Louvre.

He was quoted in the article, Looking for Elbow Room, Louvre Limits Daily Visitors to 30,000, by Dan Bilefsky, in the New York Times (Jan. 6, 2023)

Back in 2019, it was noted that “Some 80 percent of visitors, according to the Louvre’s research, are here for the Mona Lisa — and most of them leave unhappy.”

Today, according to the article, “Attendance at the museum in 2022, she added, had bounced back to 7.8 million people, 170 percent more than in pandemic-battered 2021 but 19 percent less than 2019, before the coronavirus hit. The renaissance, which Louvre officials attributed to tourists from the United States and Europe, was emblematic of the extent to which the Louvre had recovered after coronavirus travel restrictions buffeted museums in Paris and across the world.”

And most of those folks want to jostle and push and stand in line for a glimpse of one painting so they can tell friends that they jostled and pushed and stood in line to glimpse this one painting and maybe they have a selfie to prove it.

Going to a museum should be spontaneous and natural and not requiring of so much effort.

Growing up in Grand Rapids, it wasn’t too hard to talk my Dad into taking us downtown to the Grand Rapids Public Museum on a Sunday Afternoon.

The museum was never crowded.

There was easy parking though my Dad would look for something within 50 feet of the front door and wonder out loud if the trip was worth it if we had to park at the medical supply building across the street.

We had been to these museum 100s of times and we knew the way around the place front and back.

The diorama’s of stuffed animals.

The oldtime gas light village that represented Grand Rapids in the late 1800’s.

The odd furniture museum up the back stairs.

The Roger B. Chaffee Space corner and Planetarium.

Sometimes we might go the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

The hardest part of a spontaneous and natural visit not requiring of so much effort to this museum focused hitting that magic time when it might be open and there seemed to be no published listing of hours

You just went, it was in an old house, and if it was open, it was open.

Then there were trips to Chicago and Detroit.

Most of my family went off to college at Ann Arbor.

My sister Mary went to college in Chicago for two or three years.

Also my Aunt and Uncle live there.

When ever some needed to be picked up for Thanksgiving or Spring Break my Dad would arrange to take one of two of us kids along and leave early and spend the day in the big city at any of their museums.

Chicago had the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Institute of Art while Detroit had Greenfield Village and the Detroit Institute of Art.

I guess I was raised on the concept that going to a museum should be spontaneous and natural and not requiring of so much effort.

I stayed with that as I got older.

History of Art was my minor in college,

Through this course of study, I had unusual access to the Detroit Institute of Art and a sort-of defacto membership in a group of museum guests that was a little bit above the norm.

I remember that I had a meeting scheduled with one of my professors to see some early Tuscan Renaissance works there at the DIA and I was late.

Never mind how I arranged to get a car to get to Detroit or how I got the gas money to get BACK from Detroit but that’s for another day.

Not knowing when I would be back at the DIA, I had to run upstairs and look at their 3 Van Gogh’s.

As an aside, with Vincent back in the news with this new modern exhibit, and the big show in Detroit, I did a little research to see close the nearest Van Gogh is to me where I now live.

Sad to say I’d have to drive to the National Gallery in Washington.

But I digress.

I spotted my professor waiting in the lobby and ran over and apologized for being late.

“Sorry,” I said, “but I had to go and see the Van Gogh’s.”

My professor smiled and nodded and then looked over his shoulder, took my by the arm and leaned in close and said, “I have real doubts about that self portrait.”

I smiled and nodded.

See, I was in the club.

This may have been the same visit that the professor and I were sitting on a bench in the center of a gallery and the professor pointed out the habits of most of the patrons.

“They come in with their guidebooks, check to make sure they are in the right gallery, look at the guidebook, look back at the plates next to artwork THEN they look at the work itself.”

He clucked his tongue, shook his head and said, “Why should that make such a difference?”

But he knew it did and he taught me that it did, but he still wondered.

He also once more looked over his shoulder and then leaned over and said to me, “And I know of enough times paintings and plaques got messed up.”

Reminded me of story told by the great Tom Wolfe of being at a Picasso exhibit and seeing a man who had rented one of those audio tours that back in the day was on a tape cassette player with a headset.

Mr. Wolfe noted that the man was getting more and more frustrated as he walked through the exhibit until the man finally yelled out loud, THIS IS NOT PICASSO’S BLUE PERIOD.

A docent came over and together they figured out that the man had been playing the wrong side of the tape.

So everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa.

I understand that.

But there are more paintings and other Museums.

Close to me is the Telfair Museum in Savannah.

I haven’t been yet but I do want to go.

It its where the the statue of the young lady feeding birds, known as the Bird Girl Statue, is now located.

Sad to say that after being featured in the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the statue got so much attention and had to be removed from its location in a cemetery and placed in the art museum.

Maybe sometime access to art can be too spontaneous and too natural and should require a little effort.

I also want to see the EK le by Josef Albers.

It is listed as being part of the Telfair Museum Collection.

Going to the Telfair museum for me can be be spontaneous and natural and not requiring of so much effort.

Alas, the online listing for EL le states, “STATUS – Not on view”

Well, there you are.

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