A night at the museum…


Last night I went to a members’ event at the Art Institute, my new home-away-from-home. James Cuno, the director, spoke about the new wing (the largest addition ever in the history of the Art Institute) which is scheduled to open May 16, 2009. The design (Renzo Piano, architect) is impeccable: an open building that looks out onto Chicago’s Millennium Park and whose overall style refers to the classicism of the original building while at the same time screams (in an oh-so-refined-way) “modern”. The only part I’m not crazy about is the bridge connecting the park and the museum. The bridge is planned to be a sort of funnel so that visitors to the park are lured into the museum and become viewers of great art. I love pretty much any subversive idea, so the vision of a group of people suddenly finding themselves in the ticket area of an awesome museum just when they were about to go have a brewskie is wonderfully strange in an almost sci-fi sort of way. However, I have to disagree with Mr. Cuno’s description of the bridge as a “gossamer thread”. To me it looks more like a tube at a water park which, now that I think about it, might make a visit to the museum in the summer even more fun: you could get wet in the Crown Fountain and then be swept away in the water tube toward the museum; there could even be a final slide into the entrance at the end! Of course, the only problem is how to get dry for the visit…


Finally, a whole paragraph needs to be devoted to Mr. Cuno who is cute, funny, engaging, enthusiastic, incredibly smart, and warm. Last night he had a sincere connection with the audience and spoke to them, not down to them. Where were the likes of Mr. Cuno when I was in a fancy-pants graduate school where academics spoke in a hushed tones about Derrida, had dour looks on their faces, never returned papers, had petty fights with colleagues, and were helpful only to the graduate students who slept with them? I might have finished my Ph.D. (which my father called “piled higher and deeper”, referring, I think, to bullshit)!








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