19th and Early 20th Century European Paintings and Sculpture @ The Met

19th and Early 20th Century European Paintings and Sculpture
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

19th & 20th ArtMy Path Through The Exhibit

I viewed this exhibit shortly after the museum opened on a Saturday morning. It was a great time to see it. I haven’t been to the Met in years, and the place was mostly empty so it just seemed enormous compared to my memories. The best thing I did was pick up a map of the exhibit when I arrived. It helped me navigate the many rooms- I know I would have been turned around without it and I had limited time. I saw iPhone symbols on some of the paintings, but was unable to figure out how to use the app, and the man I asked didn’t know how either. I plan to return to the exhibit when I have more time to experience the app and the audio tour- I am a big fan of audio tours. 🙂

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What do you think is the exhibition’s main idea or purported purpose?
To display paintings from the most notable artists of the late 19th century. But, I would guess a real statement of purpose would be more specific with more grandiose intentions when it is proposed.

How well does the exhibition’s design convey that main idea or purpose?
The collection was presented clearly, and the content was world class so it was successful. I wish that the collection had more information about why the pieces were chosen and the relationship between them.

Decipher and write down the exhibition’s basic content outline as you walk through it.
The art was arranged mostly by artist with similar styles displayed together for comparison. Smaller (and less notable) paintings were displayed in closer relationship to each other.

How do you think the designers interpreted the content you outlined?
I would guess the process included looking at a very large body of potential art. Then, attempting to find pieces that compliment or contrast each other in ways that are interesting and bring new connections to the study of art in that period.

Did the design contribute to an enhanced perspective on the topic of the exhibition?
Yes, had the halls been smaller or more cluttered, the experience of standing in front of the paintings could have been jeopardized.

Did the exhibition reveal new information or insights for you?
I enjoyed being able to get very close to the art as opposed to other museums that put the rope at your feet. I never noticed how much of the canvas showed thru in finished pieces by Monet or Van Gogh. Also, the halls were spacious enough so that you could stand back and view the paintings with an unobstructed view. I dislike when there is too much clutter from sculptures or stands placed in the middle of the room, and I wasn’t bothered by it in this exhibit. It helped me remember how much I like going to art museums, especially since I was there to enjoy and not write a paper like in my undergraduate study. I don’t remember studying any work by William Bouguereau before, and I thought it was stunning!

Were you incentive to learn more afterward?
I didn’t see any call to action that would make someone who wasn’t studying the artists on their own want to begin. I felt that I would rather come back to the museum and listen to the provided audio than read further on my own.

What was the exhibition’s “look & feel” and how did it contribute to the main ideas or purpose of the exhibition?
I appreciated the choice to place the paintings sparingly on the walls ( for the most part ) so that there was more room to enjoy one at a time. Keeping the frames similar in color and design also helped bring the focus to the paintings. Also, I appreciated the frames not being dusty despite their shape. The rooms with red walls were troublesome to me, not only was I less familiar with the art, but they were crammed together with no clear focus point. It seemed to be saying “skip these!” plus, the lighting was low with no spotlights illuminating them.

How would you characterize the contributions of 3D, graphic, media, and lighting design?
The lighting was troublesome in some areas. The soft window-like lighting was pleasant in the larger rooms with larger paintings, but many of the smaller paintings suffered a cast shadow from their frames that detracted from the work. There were a few works that were lit softly with a spotlight to fill the shadow improving the viewing experience drastically.

Were any of these design elements outstanding–or lacking?
I would have liked to see more graphic panels, maybe not as much written on them, but quick directional blurbs explaining why the paintings were grouped in this place. The cards below each painting explained the piece, but not why the curator thought I should look at it.

How might you have approached interpreting the content differently through the design of this exhibition?
The content was amazing, but I want to see more about the relationship between the work. I would like to organize the work more chronologically, pairing two paintings created at the same time but in different styles/countries/medium/etc..

How would you characterize the role of design in this institution, based on this exhibition?
It was conservative and simple.

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