I didn’t go to an art museum today — as I recommended yesterday — because I had other commitments. But I did go yesterday, arriving at the Guggenheim Museum about 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, late enough for me to imagine what it might be like today. It was delightful — full of people, but not so crowded that one couldn’t see the pictures.
On view was Picasso Black and White, and the show was definitely drawing a diverse as well as plentiful crowd. I heard several foreign languages being spoken and saw people of all ages and races. Picasso is always good for crowds, and this exhibit got good reviews. Michael Fitzgerald in The Wall Street Journal called it ” not only one of the most exquisitely beautiful exhibitions of modern art to appear in New York in recent years but also among the most intellectually engaging,” and Karen Rosenberg in The New York Times said it was “as eye-opening as it is elegant.” It was good to see that many people went beyond Picasso into the galleries filled with new acquisitions and a small show of Kandinsky works — they were full, too.
I stopped to ask one guard if he had to work today. Yes, he said. Did he mind? He gave me a strange, surprised look and say, definitely, no. He said he didn’t have to start untill 11 a.m., so it wouldn’t interfere with his plans for last night. How did others feel about working on a holiday? He said he had heard no complaints. Some people may well have grumbled, I’ll guess but I hope that they weren’t forced to work a holiday — and I hope the guard’s answer assuages RCA readers who’ve complained in comments that museum employees shouldn’t have to work holidays.
I stopped to talk with another guard because I was taken by the big button he was wearing, pictured here. “Ask Me About The Art,” it says. I’d not noticed them before, and he told me they were ”pretty new,” though he didn’t recall when they were passed out. He loved the buttons. An art history major, he said until he got a button, most people asked where the rest rooms were. Now, some people do ask him real questions about the art on view. Other museums might take the cue and get similar buttons (some may already have similar identifiers).
All in all, there was only one discouraging moment during my visit. One young man, eyeing a painting, couldn’t resist saying, so that all could hear. “Or, it’s a ‘Woman in a Chair’ — I thought it was a spider” to one of his mates, who snickered. He should have found the nice young guard I spoke to — who might have helped him out.
Photo credits: © Judith H. Dobrzynski