Archive for February 18th, 2008

The Seattle Art Museum is the Place to Be Right Now

Monday, February 18th, 2008

They have some rare wonders on exhibit right now. Three panels from Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise”, the astonishingly gorgeous gilded cast bronze doors of the Florence baptistery, are on display until April.

These panels do not travel, folks, so this is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them restored and up close. After the tour ends, they are going home to be kept in an oxygen-free space and will never leave the city again.

Opening Thursday, February 21, an extensive exhibition of Roman Art from the Louvre is a must-see. Not only are the individual pieces exquisite (of course), but it looks like the Seattle Art Museum has really gone all out to create a unique and illuminating design to showcase these wonders.

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer :

The objects in the Roman collection rarely move. Only 200 or so are on exhibit at any one time. Most remain in storage. With the American tour, the Louvre wants to conceive new installations beyond the usual classifications of materials (bronzes, marbles and glass, for instance) and chronology to those that reveal different aspects of Roman life, its private and public domains. It is a world known and unknown, familiar and unfamiliar. All of it bears exploration and examination.

“We want to reimagine the collection,” Roger said. “We want to mix everything up to see what happens when, for example, a huge marble statue sits next to a small bronze, to see what kind of space is needed.” […]

The Louvre cannot paint its walls to accommodate different exhibits because it is a historic building, but the Seattle Art Museum can. So the exhibit of nearly 200 objects that takes up the entire fourth floor of the south wing is seen in rooms painted in dramatic colors — antique yellow, somber burgundy, serene gray-green, almost pumpkin. It’s a palette adapted from a typical Roman house, suggested by Giroire and Roger. The effect of the different colors and pinpoint lighting, said Roger, is startling. Everything, particularly the marble, pops almost theatrically.

This is the only place on the west coast you can see the exhibit. I think it’s worth a special trip if you’re anywhere remotely nearby, especially since you can enter the Gates of Paradise at the same time.

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