In our college visitation romp around New England, I was able to steal away a few hours to visit three lovely museums. (Keith and Kyle believe I arranged that afternoon of golf for their benefit.) All the museums are worth an afternoon of your time, and the respective bookstores deserve dropping by also.
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is a shining star amongst the small museum set. We raced to Williams so I could visit before it closed and we made it with 45 minutes to view the collection. Kyle scouted the galleries, finding pieces of art that he knew I would like and leading me to one surprise after another, the greatest was Botticelli’s Madonna and Child. It might actually be my favorite of the artist and the genre. The bookstore at ‘The Clark’ rambles through the lobby giving everyone the opportunity to browse while moving from one section of the museum to another. There was an impressive selection of art history books, the website advertises more than 2,000 volumes. That figure doesn’t surprise me, this is one of the few museum shops that concentrated more on books and less on ‘stuff.’ Not to say there isn’t sideline merchandise, they have the reproductions, posters, kids items (a great way to introduce art in a child-accessible manner), and knick-knacks, but I could have spent hours browsing through all of the books. There were tables dedicated to the current exhibits and past exhibits, but also a solid representation of catalogues for current and recent shows in New York and Boston, both cities within “excursion distance.” Delightfully, there was an excellent sale table full of recent art history books that people actually want to read, the offerings felt more like a gift to the reader rather than a way to clean out bookshelves.
- Not to be out done, Yale has a beautiful Donatello
Yale University Art Gallery is the “honey I shrunk the kids” version of the Met. I was amazed at how I traveled the history of art in three floors, saw beautiful pieces, and left before my feet ached. Again, the ‘bookstore’ is in the lobby, but it’s the polar opposite of The Clark. Here, it seems there are half as many couches to lounge on and read about art as there are books to choose from. It’s sparse, but intriguing. The publications focus on the Yale collection and current and past exhibitions. Oddly enough, although the bookstore doesn’t provide a huge browsing experience, of the three museum stores, this is the one I’d like to come back to for an afternoon. I’d love to spend a couple of hours hanging out and perusing what is there, it feels very welcoming. It struck me that what I found at the Yale bookstore would be directly helpful in gaining a deeper understanding of the art elsewhere in the building.
Yale Center for British Art is a mini Tate Museum, the old one before it franchised. I loved wandering past the Stubbs, Turners and Reynolds in the galleries and then trying to identify the Tudor portraits. Not all the art is mired in the past, I walked through an exhibit for contemporary artist Rebecca Salter and became a huge fan. A solid wall of books on British art is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the subject or any of the Read the rest of this entry »