Museum Day, 2013

Museum Day, 2013: Delaware Art Museum; Brandywine River Museum, Rosenbach Museum; Newark Museum, Montclair Museum
This Saturday, September 28, 2013, is Museum Day, when hundreds of museums across the U.S. offer free admission.

Participation is limited to two tickets per household, and must be ordered online in advance (I think you can order on Saturday before you go).

Search for participating museums near you by address or by state.

The event is coordinated by Smithsonian magazine.

(Images above, a few museums I like to visit in Delaware: Delaware Art Museum; Pennsylvania: Brandywine River Museum, Rosenbach Museum; and New Jersey: Newark Museum, Montclair Art Museum)

New website for National Gallery of Art

New website for National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is one of the great art museums in the U.S., and a national treasure on which I am happy to see my tax dollars spent.

The NGA has long had a web presence, but it has never been quite what those of us who admire the museum’s collection might have liked, with small images of items in the collection and less than ideal presentation overall.

That has all changed, as the museum recently rolled out a beautiful new website.

Searching or browsing the collection is much easier, and many of the individual objects are now provided with zoomable high resolution images.

You can also still download images, as you could before, through the NGA Images database. Though the basic system for that hasn’t changed since my post on NGA Images in 2012, it is now more gracefully integrated into the main website.

I’ll point out again that though you can download a reasonably large image without an account, registering for a free account with a simple email address gives you access to wonderfully large high-resolution images.

As an example, an image of John Constable’s landscape, Wivenhoe Park, Essex (images above, third from bottom) can be downloaded without an account in a size from which I’ve taken the crop shown above, second from bottom. The bottom image shows a crop from the size available to those logged in to a free account (essentially the same as maximum zoom in the website interface, if you’re not concerned about downloading).

In addition to better presentation of exhibitions and items from the collection, there are other treasures to be found by looking around, with excellent features on subjects like Conservation Projects.

(By the way, the detail image of the hand from Vermeer’s exquisite Woman Holding a Balance in the examples above is not blurred; the extreme close-up just shows Vermeer’s brilliantly soft edges.)

Art Museum Day 2013

Art Museum Day 2013, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Brandywine River Museum, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum of American Art, The Delaware Art Museum
Not to be confused with the more general Museum Day in September, which is sponsored by Smithsonian magazine (my post here), Art Museum Day is a relatively new event, started last year, that is sponsored by the Association of Art Museum Directors.

This Saturday, May 18, 2013, participating art museums in the U.S. Canada and Mexico will be offering free or reduced admission, special programs and other events in a bid to attract additional visitors.

The page on the AAMD site lists participating museums, with some indication of specific events, though you should probably check with your local museum in question for more specifics. There is also an AAMD press release about the event, with a more compact list of the museums, here.

The event is held in on the same day as International Museum Day, which features events at museums in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceana and the Americas (look to links on the right of the IMD page for more information about museums and events in specific world regions).

(Above: images of a few participating art museums in my area: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Brandywine River Museum, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum of American Art, The Delaware Art Museum)

Girl With a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings From the Mauritshuis

Girl With a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings From the Mauritshuis, Johnannes Vermeer, Carel Fabritius, Abraham van Beyeren, Jacob van Ruisdael, Reambrandt van Rijn
While the Mauritshuis, The Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, Netherlands, is undergoing renovations, some 35 wonderful examples of their extraordinary collection of paintings are touring the US.

The group includes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, as well as treasures by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Carel Fabritius, Rachel Ruysch, Jan Steen, Jacob von Ryisdael and others.

The show is currently at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, where it will be on display until June 2, 2013.

It then moves to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where it will be on display from June 23 to September 29, 2013.

A smaller subset of 15 works, titled Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis, including Girl with a Pearl Earring as well as works by Rembrandt, Hals, van Ruisdael, Steen and Fabritius, will be on display at the Frick Collection in New York from October 22, 2013 to January 19, 2014, which is when I hope to see them.

(Images above: Johnannes Vermeer, Carel Fabritius, Abraham van Beyeren, Jacob van Ruisdael, Reambrandt van Rijn)

[Addendum: Reader Ælle points to an interesting interview with Mauritshuis Director Emilie Gordenker on ArtsATL]

Rijksmuseum reopens

Rijksmuseum reopens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Pieter Claesz, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriël Metsu, Rembrandt van Rijn
One of the world’s great museums, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, reopened its doors today after 10 years of renovations.

The museum’s centerpiece, Rembrandt’s monumental work Officers and other civic guardsmen of District II of Amsterdam, under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq andLieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch, known as the ‘Night Watch’ (above, second down), remains in its original position; every other aspect of the museum and the presentation of its collection has been redesigned.

There is an article on the restoration on the Museum’s recently redone website (which I wrote about last September), along with a video and photos.

In addition there is a documentary on YouTube, a video of the opening celebration on NOS, an article and slideshow on CNN and a slideshow on Guardian, along with an article on the rethinking of the galleries, and a video of a flashmob recreation of “Night Watch” in a Dutch shopping center.

Those of us who can’t easily visit the renovated museum in person can enjoy highlights from the museum’s collection in high resolution on their website.

(Images above: renovated hall, Rembrandt van Rijn, Pieter Claesz, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriël Metsu, Rembrandt van Rijn)

[Thanks to “Ælle Ayres” for links and updates.]

New Frick Collection Website

New Frick Collection Website
The Frick Collection, as I pointed out in my post from 2010, is a relatively small museum in New York that is remarkable in its ratio of size to masterpieces.

Though perhaps without as much drama and attention as the website makeovers of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011 and the recent redesign of the Rijksmuseum website, the Frick Collection recently debuted a freshly redesigned version of its web presence.

The new Frick site is cleaner, more modern and most importantly, better organized. There is a dedicated secondary site,, devoted to searching the collections, though it is integrated with the main site. The search and browse functions, and particularly the display of search and browse returns, is much improved over the old site.

The display of the works themselves, though in a clearer, more neutral setting, is largely unchanged. The images have a zoom feature, but unlike more flexible ones on the sites of the Morgan Library, the Rijksmusem or the National Gallery in London, which can be zoomed in a fullscreen interface, this one is restricted to a relatively small window that cannot be enlarged, and part of the window is always obscured by the preview thumbnail. It’s unfortunate that the museum chose not to address this in the makeover.

That being said, it’s still a delight to be able to easily find and zoom in on gems from the Frick’s superb collection, even in a limited interface. There is also now a revised and improved “virtual tour” of the museum’s rooms and grounds, itself in a zoomable interface with hotspots on the works linked directly to the detail page for the work (above, second from bottom).

It’s a fun way to pay a virtual visit to a great museum.