Robert's passion for visiting and viewing museums began when he took youth art classes at the Toledo Museum of Art, where every Saturday morning he roamed from the paintings to the historical rooms to the mummies. If you enjoy visiting museums, here are some personal favorites for you.
Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, CA:
Someone once said that the new Getty Museum is the Los Angeles museum with the great building and the average collection, while the Norton Simon is the museum with the great collection and the average building. Norton Simon has a fantastic selection of 19th century of French art, with one of the best Degas collections in the country. Don't miss the haunting self-portrait of a middle-aged Rembrandt, which still seems alive after 400 years, and a sensuous Watteau painting of a young woman. The museum is also 15 minutes from the Huntington Museum, with its stunning gardens, British art collection, and rare books library.
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH:
What the Toledo Museum may lack in quantity, it makes up in quality. This museum is filled with many fabulous, seminal paintings, including Bonnard's mythological "Abduction of Europa," Bellows´ "The Bridge," Cole´s "Architect's Dream," Van Gogh's "Wheat Field," and some superb classical Greek vase paintings. Great café too. While in the area, you can also make the grand tour of nearby major museums, including the Detroit Art Institute, Cleveland Art Museum, and Chicago Art Institute.
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.:
Housed in an old mansion, this museum has a visionary quality centered around a great collection of Bonnard's paintings, which are my favorite paintings there. The collection also includes many fabulous American paintings, including Thomas Eakins' portraits and Albert Pinkham Ryder's moonlit landscapes.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.:
The National Gallery has a vast, high quality collection, which will take you at least 2 days to cover comfortably. Don't miss a rare chance to see 4 jewel-like Vermeer paintings (only a handful of Vermeers exist). There is also an exceptional collection of Manet paintings, and a special gallery recently opened for "small paintings" that features many intimate 19th century French still lifes and plein air landscapes.
Rodin Museum, Paris, FR:
In many ways, this museum offers the most complete museum package in Paris: a beautiful old mansion with open windows, extensive gardens, powerful Rodin sculptures inside the museum and throughout the gardens, a special gallery of Rodin´s drawings and watercolors, and a good outdoor cafè. You can spend a lot of time loitering here.
Musee D'Orsay, Paris, FR:
One of the best museums in the world, the building is a gargantuan old train station with a giant wall clock which houses an incredible collection of 19th century French art, with entire rooms devoted to individual artists like Manet, Gauguin, and Cezanne. The Degas pastel room is a religious experience, but go to view it as soon as the museum doors open to avoid the crowds. Good restaurants inside the museum too.
Irvine Museum, Irvine, CA:
The Irvine is a labor of love devoted to California impressionist art; it has amassed a large collection of paintings by interesting artists like William Wendt, Edgar Payne, and Guy Rose, whose work is not often seen in other museums. This museum housed in an office building does not display a permanent collection, but instead shows carefully chosen rotating exhibits, and organizes traveling exhibits around the country. The Irvine has a small bookstore stocked with singular books, catalogs, and dvd´s featuring California impressionism.
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI:
Another Midwest gem of a museum. The expanded DIA houses a large and unique collection (too much to see in one day). The museum centerpiece is an enormous Diego Rivera mural, "Detroit Industry," commissioned by Ford in the 1930's, which fills an entire 2 story hall with a surreal collage of machinery, workers, and earth mothers. Other renowned works include Bruegel's "Wedding Dance," showing a crowd of carousing peasants; Sargent's "Mosquito Nets," Fuseli's "Nightmare," and Copley’s “Head of a Negro,” which was painted over 200 years ago but looks like it was painted yesterday. The DIA has an entire gallery devoted to 19th-century American landscapes in a fascinating display of large, high-end landscapes (Cole, Bierstadt, et al.) surrounded by clusters of small plein air landscapes by these same artists. The DIA also has at least a half-dozen excellent cafes and restaurants inside the museum.
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