On our way home from Troy, New York my wife and I stopped at the Clark Art Institute to see an exhibition of nudes from the Prado. I was intrigued because I knew how problematic the painting of nudes has been in Spanish art given the strictures of the Contrarreforma and the Inquisición during the time of Spain’s greatest period of art production and aquisition. The exhibit was phenomenal; well worth the trip from anywhere in the northeast.
I had been to “The Clark” a few times and my wife and I had been just to see the regular collection just two years earlier. At that time we drove up to the front of the museum, parked our car, and entered…well, I don’t recall, but I assume we entered through the front door. Can you identify it?
Even if we didn’t enter through the front door of the original building, if we entered through the more modern building on the left it didn’t require a handful of college kids to point us to the right place to begin our visit.
Not so anymore.
Find the entrance!
The newest wing of The Clark is so unlocateable, so undetectable, that an army clad in neon vests has to corral and prod you like cattle toward the entrance. The parking lot is set off from the entry path-alley way-conveyor belt by random pockets of unkempt “native grasses” and concrete slabs which a construction crew appears to have left after the burying of a septic tank.
Look, an “orientation center”. Imagine designing in such a way that you didn’t disorient your visitors to begin with! It is lovely though:
The grand entrance! (“I was looking for the museum, not the DMV. Don’t you hate it, though, when the governor’s nephew gets his first commission designing for the state?”)
The gardens are a nearly shadeless windscape certain to be an incommodious place to be 9 months out of the year given the weather in New England. On the other hand, if you do decide to venture out the light colored flat stone of the hardscape will ensure that, even if you do escape the sun’s rays directly, their reflection will burn your retinas from below. Waiting to greet you are more boring slabs of textured concrete randomly jutting from the earth below. Brutalism!
Wait, those ladies found shade!
How is it that people entrusted with such a spectacular collection of American and European painting and sculpture, and gifted such a wonderful neo-classical edifice to house that collection, can so easily fall prey to an “emperor’s new clothes” level of charletanry when it comes to the design of a building in which to expand their exhibition space?
Oh, this explains it. These people come from a long line of those who can’t tell a quality building from a pile of excrement: