Today I went to the Chrysler Museum of Art. I am in Norfolk again attending another class at the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy, and since I was driving down a day early anyways I figured I would stop by some of the sights.
I am a pretty quick study of art museums. I enjoy going to art museums but I don’t really have the education to appreciate most of what I see in them. So my usual style is to zip around at a pretty quick pace until I see something that catches my eye. This probably isn’t the best way to really absorb art, but at the ripe old age of 27 I’ve decided that I like what I like and I won’t make any apologies for it.
That being said, the museum had a lot that caught my eye. Like any art museum with its roots in somebody’s personal collection, the Chrysler Museum of Art has a pretty wide array of stuff. They have a large collection of glassware and glass sculptures, your standard assortment of Renaissance stuff, a modern & contemporary art section, and a selection of ancient western and non-western art.
The first section I wandered into was their glass section. They are really proud of their glass. Like, really proud. They have a whole wing of the stuff. They have all sorts of glass as well. The first part of the exhibit is selections of glass stretching back to Roman times. I am always a big fan of ancient stuff like that because I try to really put the years into perspective. More on that in a second when I talk about their Egyptian stuff. I always wonder what whatever Roman craftsman was putting the finishing touches on a glass bowl would think of to learn that 2000 years later the thing was a) not broken and b) on display in an art gallery. The glass section stretches all the way into contemporary pieces done in glass. My favorites were a vase decorated with elephants (titled “Elephant Vase”) and a sculpture of an astronomical calendar encased in a sphere.
The next section was the “non-western” ancient art. This is where that ancient feeling really comes into play, but first off, even with that being said, I’m sort of over Egyptian stuff. I mean, I like it on its own, and it blows my mind to see sculptures and think that some dude painted that 5000 years ago, but I’m tired of seeing dead people boxes. Like, okay, they’re art, but that was a dead dude man. I think I’m the crazy one here, but still. There were also examples of African sculpture in the form of a stool and ceremonial weapons, and in the western section some excellent examples of Roman vases. There were a lot of vases in this museum, now that I’m thinking about it.
Upstairs in the museum is a great deal more of the paintings. Like I said before, they have a good chunk of Renaissance art, but I’m not a big fan. I’m sure its great, and its not the art, its me, but eh. I don’t like it. In the Modern art section I found a Lichtenstein I liked with a fighter jet so that was cool. Also, and perhaps most interestingly, tucked away in the corner somewhere near the Renaissance and Modern art sections is the Norfolk Mace. Apparently, municipal maces used to a thing. The Norfolk Mace was made back in 1753 and “when held by Norfolk’s mayor at public ceremonies, [it] signified that his colonial office was an extension of the British Crown’s prestige and power.” The museum boasts that it is the only municipal mace in the US in the possession of the city for which it was commissioned, but I didn’t even know these things were a thing. I think the world could use more maces.
I rounded out my visit to the museum with a visit to their Monet, “View of Vernon,” because I knew the name and I felt like I should check it out. If you’re in town I highly recommend a visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Admission is free, so it is always worth the price, plus their collection is pretty great and I spent a lot of time just discovering that there was more to see. Sorry, by the way, that the pictures are terrible; I’m not really an art photographer.
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