Once of the nice things about AAM is that you get to see other museums while you are in a different city. You also get to see how they do things differently. Yesterday we went to LACMA and the La Brea tar pits. Both were pretty impressive. The tar pits were about why I expected and included some mammoths getting dragged into the muck. This was cheered on by some little kids near by. The museum was huge and we only had a little over an hour to see what we wanted. I made a beeline for the Japanese pavilion. They had a great exhibit on netsuke and an interesting way of showing the art. Many times the room was dark until you pushed a button that illuminated the artwork. This was ideal for works on paper that can suffer from light exposure. The entire building was designed to house and display Japanese art. Not Chinese, not Asian, Japanese. This detail was mostly reflected in the structure which mirrored elements of traditional Japanese architecture with modern materials and museum display methods. Curiosuly though some of the art was left uncovered allowing the viewer to get a very up close look at the piece but exposing it to getting touched. I guess if the gallery is well contained in a stable enviroment, you don’t have food or drink in there, and the guards are always present this isn’t that big of an issue.
Another issue was the ticket checks in many of the galleries. The museum is housed in multiple buildings and I was often asked to show my ticket. This could have been rectified with a badge of some sort or metal pin. Maybe I missed something but it was a little annoying to have to show it everytime I walked I to a gallery.
Another interestig feature was lack of labels. In the Oceanian gallery for instance everyhing was explained on laminated cards in a cubby on the wall. This allowed the artifact to appear on the wall or in the case with no distracting label urging you to read about what it was. It actually made you think about what your initial thought of the artifact was before you were told about it’s origin and function. I thought this had some potential for certain types of exhibits.