Art Museums for the Connoisseur

August 14, 2018

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Art lovers around the world know the many pleasures of the Louvre, the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other famous art museums, but some of the most exciting art can be found in smaller museums with unique collections. In his upcoming class, “Beyond the Louvre: Art Museums for the Connoisseur,” Barry Greenlaw takes us on a tour of the larger museums, but also some lesser known institutions in this country and abroad. We visited with him to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What strikes you most about art museums in today’s world?

Greenlaw: Art museums have never been more popular or more visible. For instance, in spite of raising the price of admission recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art just announced record attendance for the last fiscal year, and the Met continues to be New York’s most visited tourist attraction. Every day there are long lines for admission to the Louvre that snake around the Pyramid entrance and if you want to visit the new Broad Museum in Los Angeles, you either need to make advance reservations, or wait in long queues for standby admission.

It’s not just art but also architecture. Enormous new museums, designed by “starchitects” like Frank Gehry or Renzo Piano have became a necessary signature for the status of rising cities
all over the world, from China, the Middle East, and Latin America.

WIH Reporter: It sounds like larger museums and big names are the trend in today’s art world.

Greenlaw: Here’s an example. A single painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci sold at auction for $450 million, and will soon be put on display as the focal point of the new mega-museum in Abu
Dhabi, and next year will make its debut at the Louvre itself (almost certainly increasing the length of the lines around the Pyramid).

WIH Reporter: In this context, it sounds easy to miss some smaller and more unique art collections. What should we know about the smaller venues you are covering in your upcoming class.

Greenlaw: The famous art museums in the great cities of the world will be considered in this course, but will be seen in the context of a large number of small, less visible and less well-known institutions, in this country and abroad.

These can be found in the lesser cities, towns, countrysides and universities and colleges, where their often remarkable and surprising collections make an even greater impact to their visitors than the world-famous works of art in the great blockbuster museums.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about these art collections?

Greenlaw: Instead of visiting London or Madrid, Chicago or Boston; Tokyo or Mexico City, you can visit Barnard Castle in England, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Colmar, France or Waterville, Maine, and I’m not forgetting Louisiana (but the museum I’m referring to is not the museum that comes to mind!).

WIH Reporter: Is there anything else we should know about your upcoming class?

Greenlaw: Each week of this 10-week course will be a surprise to you, and probably to me as well.

Barry Greenlaw’s class, “Beyond the Louvre: Art Museums for the Connoisseur” begins on Sept 10th at 1:00 p.m. For more information, or to register, click here.