Matthias Waschek, who became director of the sleepy Worcester Art Museum two years ago, has caught my eye a couple of times since — for reopening the museum’s historic doors, for merging with the Higgins Armory Museum, and so on.
In September, he revealed another initiative — a rehanging of the museum’s Old Master pictures in medallion style. So I went up to look and to talk with him about reinvigorating the museum. The first fruit of that trip was published in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Headlined Museum, Remodeled, it goes into the thinking that underlies the new hanging (at right) — and why it should prompt people to actually look at the pictures. Here is one key passage:
His most meaningful step so far is “[remastered],” which encourages museum-goers to linger in the galleries, looking for commonalities among the paintings in each assemblage. “I wanted it to be visceral, spiritual, inspiring,” Mr. Waschek said. “Not the traditional hanging of one painting in a line, then one label; one painting, one label, repeated endlessly”—which too often results in people reading the labels, glancing at the art, and moving on. “[remastered]” offers no labels, though visitors can find the artist, title and date on cards in the galleries. As they were in centuries past, the paintings are tilted away from the wall for better viewing from below. The deep red and green galleries now hold 66 paintings, versus 57 works before, hung on neutral walls.
There’s more to his plan for the museum, which is a far better response to the challenge of attracting audiences than some other museums have tried.
There’s more to say on this subject, and I’ll be doing that soon.
Meanwhile, if the WSJ article is behind the paywall, you can read it on my website.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Worcester Art Museum