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If You Touch The 2000 Year Old Sundial At The Art Museum, You Are Yelled At And Followed

If you touch the art at the Houston Museum of Fine Art, one of the docents in the exhibit hall will yell at you from across the room, run quickly over to you, and, finally, admonish you.

Then, the docent will follow you until you leave his area of the museum. 

This is what I saw happen last week after an art museum guest touched an ancient sundial from Afghanistan.

In my view, the sundial was made out of rock and had already lasted something like 2000 years. I don’t see that touching it was going to hurt the thing.

Maybe museum goers could be provided  with a sanitizing towelette before they touched the art so that they would not get the art all foody or sticky.

When I was at the Lourve  15 years ago or so, there were signs in maybe 8 different languages telling you not to take pictures of the Mona Lisa. 

(Here is the link to the Mona Lisa Suite Hotel in Orlando.) 

(Here is the link to theMona Lisa Restaurant in Wolcott, Connecticut.)

Yet many people were taking pictures, including flash pictures, of the Mona Lisa in any case. I don’t think this was harming the painting. It’s held up for a long time already. Maybe if they handed out wallet-sized pictures as you entered the gallery, people would not take the photos.

I don’t want to say that I approve of touching the 2000 year old sundial or of taking flash pictures of the Mona Lisa, but I suppose you might gather from the tone of this post that I view witnessing such behavior as some good entertainment.

Below is the Mona Lisa. You don’t have to fly to Paris to see the damn thing.

File:Mona Lisa.jpg

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Art | , , , | 3 Comments

A Reason I Disliked School & Notes On Art And Sharks

My in-laws are in town and I’m busy being a good son-in-law. This post will just be some notes. Still—even on busy days— I make time for the blog reading public.

At the Houston Museum of Fine Arts yesterday I got a reminder of why I disliked school so much. Some kids, maybe fifth or sixth grade, were on a field trip to the museum. They were touring the galleries. The chaperons were repeatedly telling the kids not to speak. I’m not sure if the adults were teachers or parents. Though it makes little difference. (Above— One room school in Alabama 1935.)

Why not instruct the kids to offer reactions to what they were seeing? Why not ask questions of the kids? Why not tell the kids to talk to each other about what they were seeing? Other visitors to the museum were speaking in the galleries. If the adults did not feel they could control the kids, then they should not have been leading the trip.

I can remember field trips like that when I was in school in Providence, Rhode Island. We’d go to the Boston Science Museum or the Boston Aquarium–over and over we would go to those places—and get no input from our teachers about what we were seeing.  The high point of the day would be the visit to the gift shop. It was just a day to screw around.  

If you have kids, maybe you could tell them to listen to teachers who have something to say, and tune out the others. There is possibly nothing at all wrong with a kid who does not like school and who is wary of his or her teachers. Maybe the only thing wrong with that kid is that he or she is smarter than the teachers and the other kids.   


At the art museum today I bought the book Movements In Art Since 1945 by Edward Lucie-Smith. It looks like a good book.  I’ve lately been wanting to learn about Alex Katz.Above – A sketch by Katz.)

The first paragraph of the book, as far as I’ve read so far, talks about contemporary art as more widely popular than was art before World War II. I would imagine that this wider popularity comes with the usual trade off  a bigger public following against a more uncertain level of quality. Depending on my mood, I’m generally in favor of the wider public acceptance. People can make the effort to find the good stuff if it matters to them enough.

I read yesterday that fishermen in the Philippines caught a very rare Megamouth Shark and went on to eat it even though they were asked not to eat the creature.  Below you see a picture of a Megamouth Shark. The picture was taken by a Tom Haight.   Here is  some very good information about this sea beast from the Florida Museum of Natural History. It says that Sperm Whales have been known to attack this type of shark. I’d sure like to put film of that taking place on the blog. 

Time now to go pick up my in-laws and go to the deli to pick up the food for Passover.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Art, Books, Houston | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments