Visit a museum for no reason

Thoughts from my visit yesterday to the Denver Art Museum.

  1. Why don’t I visit more often? Perhaps because I used to make a living from visiting museums.
  2. It was so pleasant to wander the galleries without an agenda. No exhibit I HAD to see. Just looking at what I wanted to see.
  3. I LOVE the addition of music in the atrium in the new Hamilton building. It was great music and that cavernous space really needed it.
  4. Don’t believe everything your museum docent tells you.
  5. The DAM has the best security staff around. They don’t just fill a space. They really know about the art and about how the museum functions. Go ahead. Ask them anything. And they’re friendly! (In my former museums of employment, I recall a lot of disgruntled guards.)
  6. The DAM has this fantastic (why didn’t I see it before!) video of interviews with artists in the collection. They ask five artists the same questions. I spent my time there yesterday listening to the artists respond to the question "What does it feel like to be an artist?" Karen Kitchel, Woody Gwyn, and Don Coen all used the word "hard" or "difficult." They also felt privileged. Some wanted to say it was "fun," but that just wasn’t the right word. It’s not really fun, it’s work. Woody Gwyn said it’s not a job, not even a profession. It has to be a passion. I look forward to returning to listen to them respond to the other four questions in the interview.
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6 comments to Visit a museum for no reason

  • Oy! Museum docents make me CRAZY!!! Whenever I see a group coming towards me in an exhibition, I go the other way! As someone who is an art history/biography junkie–I can’t tell you how many times I have heard completely off the wall info being treated as the gospel truth to eager museum goers. Another thing that I think should be banned are the recorded “tours” the museums sell for each exhibit. I recently went to see the “Frida Kahlo” exhibit a SFMOMA. Excellent show. But a timed ticket event & very crowded. I find it annoying to see people standing in front of paintings for an extended period–NOT because they are looking at the painting–no, they are looking elsewhere, but listening to a recording. ARG!!!

  • I think that DAM does a really good job with audio/visual and technical features that supplement the work on display. I haven’t seen the interviews you mentioned (reason to visit again the next time I’m down from the mountain!), but everytime I’m there I find myself listening to the video interview with Daniel Sprick, or marveling at the technology in every gallery (ipods on the benches with recorded audio content, etc etc). I always visit museums when I travel, and DAM is top notch in this area. Now, if only they would make some more space to display that great Western art collection (for traditionalists like me!)…

  • Bruce Wyman

    As the person responsible for developing and maintaining the technology in the galleries (and the rest of the museum), I’m pleased to read your happy comments. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to make the technology “just work” while featuring some great, great content. If either of you, Alyson or Stacey, would be interested, I’ll put up the artist interviews on youtube so you can view them at your leisure.

  • I agree Alyson, I enjoy the “interviews” too, although I haven’t listened to them all. And Stacey, I agree, I find myself sitting and listening to Daniel Sprick, too. Thanks for the reminder Alyson; I still have to visit the most recent Impressionists show!

  • Christine: I know! Audio tours are totally frustrating, but they do teach. I saw the Kahlo exhibit in Philly and it was particularly frustrating since the paintings are so small. Bruce: Yes! We love what you do. And I’ll be happy to share any links to YouTube.

  • Sandra Lynn

    There is the conundrum of city life vs rural living. I keep thinking that a remote scenic location is where I would find the most inspiration and time for my art and have looked for real estate there. However, I know that I will miss being able to make a last minute decision to see a play, concert, opera, ballet, or stroll through an art museum. In fact, it is an effort just to find a place that exhibits art in some of these remote parts of the state. A small private gallery becomes a treasured find.