Museum Magazine, Winter 2013, Number 62

Museum Magazine, Winter 2013, Number 62

From the Director, Alex W. Barker

To some, museums are places we go to see things. Certainly that’s true of some people, and of some museums. Hundreds of thousands of people shuffle by the Hope Diamond each year, or hold cameras aloft to capture an image of the Mona Lisa in the middle distance—just past the sea of other tourists doing the same. Some objects in museums have become celebrities. That’s fine, and a nice problem to have, but it’s not what museums are really all about.

Museums aren’t just places we go to see things. They’re places we go to see things differently. At their best, museums teach us to look at the world around us in new ways, offering a fresh perspective on the natural world or on the human experience. That’s exactly what our upcoming exhibits this year will do.

Sites of Experience: Keith Crown and the Landscape of New Mexico presents selections from the Taos paintings of nationally acclaimed watercolorist (and longtime Columbia resident) Keith Crown. Crown’s compositions compel the viewer to see in new ways, dissolving single point perspective into dimensions of space that unfold around the viewer, like cubist landscapes turned inside-out. In some works the proper orientation is not immediately clear, and to further problematize orientation the paintings are signed in different orientations in all four corners.

If Sites of Experience compels us to see a (largely, albeit not exclusively) natural world in new ways, our next exhibition, 14 Rural Absurdities by Tom Huck, compels the same approach to the human experience. Huck uses large-scale woodcuts to create visually dense narratives, combining a keen humanistic eye with a satirist’s appreciation of the bizarre in daily life. And the emphasis is indeed on “daily,” as Huck originally titled this series Two Weeks in August: 14 Rural Absurdities and claimed they represented true events—or at least true folk tales—from his southeast Missouri hometown of Potosi.

And if those fourteen days don’t lead you to see time a bit differently as well, our End of Days: Real and Imagined Maya Worlds exhibition will remain on display until mid-March. We’re also working on several other exciting offerings, including an exhibition featuring our remarkable collection of ancient pottery, and a photographic show (through a partnership with the MU School of Journalism) featuring the works of noted American Berenice Abbott, who first came to photography by serving as Man Ray’s darkroom assistant.

And, of course, spring brings special events at the Museum helping you see differently as well. Art in Bloom, a perennial (all puns intended) Columbia favorite, brings together art and the region’s best floral designers, and lets visitors vote for their favorite creations, with the voting organized by categories encouraging visitors to examine each arrangement with several different criteria in mind. And Slow Art encourages visitors to contemplate selected works in greater detail, and discuss these works with friends and other visitors.

Come to the Museum—heck, come to any museum—and maybe you’ll see things differently as well. And me? I’ll see you at the Museum.

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Year: 
2013

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"I still remember the feeling of awe and disbelief when I was alone and walked in the room with those casts." --Ruth Tofle, chair of architecture, winner of the 2013 distinguished faculty award from the MU Alumni Association