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Tomorrow’s Piece Today: My WSJ Appraisal of Chicago’s New Modern Wing, Now Online

Here’s my piece—A Modern Wing Takes Flight—to be published on tomorrow’s “Leisure & Arts” page of the Wall Street Journal,

It gives you some sense of the challenging visiting conditions on May 16, the extremely overcrowded public opening, which was the first of seven consecutive free-admission days before the 50% fee hike for non-Chicagoan adults kicked in.

Even the museum’s director, James Cuno, conceded to me in an interview after my visit that “the free week’s purpose was to allow our visitors to claim the building for themselves. It wasn’t a weekend to look at art particularly.”

Here are the hoards descending one of two successive escalators to the first-floor entry court from Renzo Piano‘s third-floor bridge :


And here they are again, after they’ve gotten down to the lobby (where visitors must now come up with the admission). Now those on the right are attempting to go back up the other side of the building, via the attractively delicate but too-narrow stairway leading to the galleries on the second and third floors:


Those stairs are the main circulation pathway. There’s also an elevator, but it’s hidden behind a wall, making it easy to miss as you enter:


The elevator is on the left, above. But what you’re most likely to see as you walk in is this:


Two works got damaged (later successfully restored) in the opening-day scrum—one of Robert Ryman‘s white paintings, jostled when a visitor tripped, and a gigantic Robert Gober tissue box, from which someone actually tried to extract a tissue. (Apparently, this has happened before.)


Accustomed to touching art in Millennium Park across the street, visitors were also inadmissibly hands-on with Charles Ray‘s “Hinoki,” a 38-foot-long wood reconstruction of a fallen oak tree.

: I’ll finally have my say on the concurrent deterrent that marred the Modern Wing’s reception—the museum’s controversial 50% admission fee hike. Another irreverent photo essay is also coming in the days ahead.

an ArtsJournal blog