Monday, March 06, 2006

A Day at the Races.

Or so it felt on the way up 95 to Salem. Finally got to see the renovations at the Peabody Essex. Was not particularly impressed, either.

The atrium, which seems to be the centerpiece of the new museum was magnificent, yes, but it seems to have been built at the expense of gallery space. Some rooms would have only a few works mounted on the walls, and then other smaller areas would be crammed with cabinets/objects and very crowded with people. Inexplicable/gratuitous media kiosks blocked the flow of many exhibits. Some of the exhibits lacked explanation/coherence, as well. Not at all like the old museum.

At least the East India Hall wasn't touched.

There were some bright points to the visit: we were always pleased to find favorite, familiar objects. Since they allow people to photograph the permanent collection, someone took advantage of that.

In this case, I don't feel that expansion was an improvement. Sadly, as this was one of my favorite museums, I have no desire to visit again.


Pablo said...

Well I am still amazed with the place.

But then I never saw it before last year so I don't appeciate what you say you are missing.

Be said...

As far as collections go, it's still the biggest and best collection of China trade goods and nautical art/objects. My objection is to the layout of the place, the gratuitous placement of computer monitors everywhere and the lack of coherence in how the collections are grouped.

Wasn't too crazy about the Taj Mahal or Teapot exhibits, either. Just seemed like stuff designed to get the WCRB crowd in. Nothing wrong with that, but just not my thing.