14 December 2008

Country Mouse

Last week I heard a clip on NPR about drawbacks some newer museums have been experiencing with the design of their buildings. Apparently the problem they're having is that the celebrity architects brought on to draw up the buildings are using the space to showcase their abilities rather than showcase art. The example they used to explain what they meant by "celebrity architects" were the Guggenheim Museums. To be quite honest I didn't know there was more than one.

The Guggenheim in New York City is just another example of why I think Frank Lloyd Wright is the shit. I've been to Falling Water an number of times, so I know how well he works with space, but damn did he do a fantastic job on this museum. Simply put, it encourages exploration. We constantly found ourselves peeking around corners and leaning over edges. Each space felt private, but aware of the whole. It was like we swam through the seven floors without ever leaving the first.

And then there was the art. Never have I been to a museum with a series of collections like this. I think the only permanent exhibit is the Thannhauser collection, which is an impressive mix of Picasso, Manet, a Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others.

The show we were really interested to see was the Catherine Opie collection. Her exhibit is political, tender, violent, and by far the most beautiful collection of photography I've ever had the joy to see in person.

We did do some other things. Mainly we avoided midtown Manhattan; that place was a mad house.


Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife said...

You might enjoy viewing a BBC series on architecture, available on youtube. It's called How Buildings Learn, and is linked here:


This 6-part series is absolutely fascinating, and it does touch on the celebrity architect problem you mention. Also great food for thought for anyone who might someday build/design their own home.

One nugget mentioned in the series is that every building FLW ever built had a roof that leaked. I'm not denying that the man had genius, but the problem of celebrity architects designing to gratify their own grandiose creativity as opposed to the purpose of the building and its intended occupants is very real.

SabrinaT said...

We live 40 minutes from Tokyo, we try to avoid it at all costs. There are some amazing museums, and theater performances. We venture in for those ONLY!