......it's High Museum bashin' time!
Yes folks, I trolleyed it up to City Park to visit the New Orleans Museum of Art and once again was reminded why the High Museum is so very irritating on so many levels.
In the Museum's contemporary galleries, along side works by Chuck Close, Shirin Neshat and Jackson Pollack were a number of artworks, many of them recent acquisitions, by Louisiana artists. The museum even has a special symbol noting them as such. NOMA recognizes that it is a regional museum (as is the High) and (unlike the High) celebrates this fact. The High instead rents artwork from the Louvre in a futile effort to present a world class collection which it will never have. Further, NOMA presented a retrospective by living New Orleans artist John Scott. Here is a museum that is completely committed to recognizing and celebrating artists of the region.
Also on view was a photography exhibit (in its entirety on-line) entitled "64 Degrees of Separation". The exhibit, meant to be viewed sequentially, contained sixty-four photographs. Each photograph was tied thematically to the one next to it and snaked through three galleries so the viewer ended he began with the last photograph tied thematically to the first one as well. This was not heady stuff, but it was a joy to walk through and discover connections between very different photographs and to see how the theme changed during the exhibition. It was really a clever way to display many of the museums strongest photographic holdings in a way that was very accessible. The exhibition took up about 1750 sq. ft. (I measured) of space which is about 45% more than the High will be devoting to photography once the expansion opens. NOMA had a number of other photographs on display as well including many by a New Orleans photographer whose name I forgot to note.
All in all, NOMA is a perfect fit for New Orleans: a special museum in a unique city that is not trying to be anything more than it is. Oddly enough it has made me realize how well the High fits Atlanta: a city that is striving to be a major international city with a museum that is futilely striving for the same.