Free events that feature family activities make the Wadsworth Atheneum buzz with life. The museum was a good kind of busy. It was not silent like it usually is when I go mid-week. That’s uncomfortable, to be the only person on a floor, to have five security guards able to follow me at any given time. It was also not as busy as the larger museums in New York City that make the experience deafening and stressful. I don’t mind waiting for a few people to observe a painting and then move on, but I never want to wait in a line to catch a glimpse of something. Today’s WAMA population was a happy medium.
For the kids, there were hands-on art projects, like postcard creation. Maybe my timing was perfect, but while I was there, I was not forced to endure the screaming or crying of any kids (or their parents). The children seemed amused by the museum and the activities.
After checking out the Digging Deeper exhibit for the billionth time, I wandered off to explore the rest of the museum. I noticed that the mummy was moved. Not only was he removed, but his exhibit left some small holes in the floor. I was disappointed, mostly because it’s a tradition of mine to visit him and marvel at how the henna dye in his hair lasted thousands of years, but if I go to the salon and dye my hair, it disappears in weeks.
A somewhat hidden corner of the museum came alive with the addition of some interactive pieces. Besides looking at cabinets of bricks and other found objects, one can flip through books on the topic. Some paper and pencils were set out so that visitors could draw. This room is on the third floor next to the temporary under construction hall.
I like the quote (pictured left) on the wall in this room: “Never in the history of the world has a culture been so based on stuff.” So true! When I walk or bike, I notice so many things discarded in the gutter. This morning, in the parking lot of a big box home improvement store, I saw an infant’s sandal on the pavement. I imagine that in other societies, if a baby kicks off her shoe, the parents take the time to search for it.
As I moved through the museum I checked out the Rembrandt exhibit that has received a lot of attention. Honestly, I don’t dig Rembrandt, so this didn’t do much for me. Something I could get jazzed about were the paintings of Hartford, looking in all four directions. There were also a few depicting the Colt factory.
For me, the best surprise of the day was the contemporary American art section. I’d seen most of the pieces before, but the arrangement of them worked really well this time. An example of this is the sunbather sculpture placed near the giant painting of nipples. There may have been a woman attached to the nipples; I was distracted and can’t remember. This arrangement lured me down a dark hallway where I was met with a WARNING sign. I don’t ever recall seeing warning signs at WAMA, except for the strobe exhibit. Truthfully, the warning strikes me as silly, given the number of nudes throughout the museum. Does it really matter that the woman featured on the looped DVD is hot and doing a go-go style striptease? Maybe the amount of The L Word I’ve been watching lately has skewed my sense of what might be categorized as risqué. Other items on display nearby are of the Pop Art variety.
The next First Thursday (Feb 4) event at WAMA will feature the relaunch of the MATRIX program. I hope they can keep this positive momentum going.