1.25.2007

Museum Day

Dick and I like a good museum, so it's a bit of a surprise that we've never been to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. We've talked about it - usually after seeing the building during the annual Rose Parade - but whenever we plan to go, something seems to derail the plan.

We made it today, despite a very impressive traffic jam in Moorpark, of all places. First impression was good; several bronze Rodin sculptures grace the front lawn, including The Burghers of Callais. Dick and the girls saw another edition of this bronze when we visited the Rodin Museum in Paris last year. (I didn't see it - I was in our hotel room with a very sick son.)

Our first stop, after paying the very reasonable $8 entry fee, was the cafe. My advice? Eat before you go. The items sounded good; roast beef sandwich, eggplant sandwich (which I love), potato salad, brownie. It says something that the brownie (hard to mess up chocolate) and the bagged potato chips were the best part of the meal.

Dick loves Impressionists and the museum has a nice selection of paintings and bronzes by
Monet, Degas, Manet, Pissarro and others. We spent a bit of time contemplating van Gogh's Mulberry Tree (so much energy! The branches reminded me of the twisting snakes in Medusa's hair.) and Portrait of a Peasant.

We also liked the 17th & 18th Century collections. I'd never seen Interior with Monks by Alessandro Magnasco. A fascinating - and strange - painting done all in browns, blacks, and grays, with a little white. The 14th-16th Century collection featured a lot of religious artwork that we found uninspiring; the modern art in the 20th Century area was not to our taste; and the Asian Collection, while impressive in it's size and scope, just couldn't hold our interest.

Would we go back? Maybe. If they had a special event or exhibition that we wanted to see, it would be worth the drive. Overall, it just wasn't that impressive. But then again, we're comparing it to last year's visit to the Louvre, Rodin, and Musee d'Orsay (gorgeous, gorgeous place.) There aren't many collections that could compare with those.