This weekend was the opening of the new modern wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. Since Target was generously covering admission, we decided to head downtown to check it out. This makes Dean's 6th museum trip already. He's been to the MCA twice, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry. He seems to enjoy them.
Anyway, the modern wing of the Art Institute. We didn't look around the outside very much, so I can't comment a lot on the exterior architecture. The entry way is interesting but not particularly exciting. With the opening crowds it had a feel like an airport terminal with the aesthetic of an Apple product. Clean and white and empty and... well... a bit boring. The galleries themselves were simply galleries. Nothing seemed to be significantly different than the older galleries. While it's great that they have the space to display more of their collection, I was disappointed that more hadn't been done to improve upon the design of the galleries. My biggest complaint was that it seemed that there was no thought given to the actual flow of people through the space. there were sections that dead-ended and others that lead to bottlenecks.
Another complaint was the staff in two of the galleries. In one there was an installation that was an aluminum "landscape" backlit by color changing LEDs. I thought it was a great installation. The way it was positioned in the room left a large area off to one side of the work that was open. When I tried to walk into that space to look behind the work, a staff member told me, in a fairly snippy manor, that that wasn't allowed. I was very disappointed. I firmly believe that if a sculpture is placed away from a wall, it must be intended for viewing from all angles. In another gallery was a sculpture of a fallen, weathered tree. While we were standing in the gallery viewing it, a staff member suddenly and very loudly announced that no one should get within 3 feet of the sculpture. Again, this was not indicated in any way. there was no base to the sculpture, no tape line on the floor or any other indication of an "acceptable" viewing distance. Only a loud voice that took you out of the moment and was overly aggressive. It really detracted from the entire experience.
All in all, the artworks were fantastic, and I was thrilled to have a chance to view more of the collection. But the Modern Wing itself was a bit of a disappointment. Have you seen the new wing? What do you think?