Chrysler Museum of Art Norfolk Reviews
A Pleasent Surprise for the Art Lover Nov 14, 2007
The first time I went to the Chrysler Museum of Art, I wasn't really expecting much. Norfolk isn't that large of a city, and I've never heard of the Chrysler, so I figured it would be another mediocre smallish art museum with a limited collection. I was rather surprised to find a fairly large museum with a varied and interesting collection.
The best part of the museum? On Wednesdays they stay open until 9pm and it's free to get in!
The museum is two floors, set up around a bright center atrium. The starting on the bottom floor, going counter-clockwise (well, sort of... Grab one of the free maps for better orientation):
Glass Gallery: Consists of modern glass sculptures (such as the famous Dale Chihuly amorphic bowls/flowery things), as well as period glass from mostly American and French companies. The exhibits are divided into country, era, company and/or color, so it's interesting and easy to see the differences between glass-makers. Don't miss the room with the Louis Tiffany lamps and all the colorful serving-ware at the far end of the gallery by the windows.
Greek/Roman antiquities: Some cool Greek vases, Roman stone-work and what looks like a stone coffin! (it's not though... it's Roman bath-tub)
Indian/Islamic antiquities: I don't remember too much about this gallery, other than a trully amazing wood carving of a bodhisattva and several stone Buddha heads as well.
(behind Greek/Roman antiquities)
African tribal art/objects: Fairly small gallery, some very LARGE phallic pieces (described as markers for a men's lodge), but the masks and carved knife are the highlights.
Egyptian antiquities: This gallery is really cool! There's a large outer stone sarcophagus with amazing carvings, pieces of wall with hieroglyphs, wooden coffins, jewelry and other objects d'art. Climb the little stairs to get a better look at the sarcophagus and be sure to read the description.
Asian objects d'art: Complete with samurai armor! It's so nice you just want to reach out and touch it! There's also some decent Japanese woodblock prints, calligraphy, Chinese pottery, a Looooooong scroll with a delicately painted scene, kimonos, and a whole slew of other interesting things.
(behind Asian objects d'art)
Pre-Colombian Art: I tend to get bored in this gallery, especially after wandering around the gorgeous Asian objects d'art to get to it. It is pretty thorough though, including Mayan and Incan work.
(back towards the center)
There's a small colonial furniture gallery and/or a small rotating/traveling exhibit.
Now to the upstairs! The upstairs consists mostly of European and American paintings and sculpture spanning the medieval period all the way up to modern art. The second floor alone can be overwhelming with the amount of artwork. Paintings have always been my favorite, so if I go alone I just usually bypass the bottom floor altogether and wander upstairs for hours. Because there's SO much, here's a collection of highlights from the galleries:
"Fame" and "Mercury"- a pair of bronze pegasus
"Musical Group"- Shows a quartet playing music, but look closely in the upper left corner and there is Pan, the earthy Greek god of Music.
"Stone Cartouche with Virgin and Child Encircled by a Garland of Flowers"- A garland painting, a still life featuring stone figures surrounded by flowers, each part usually done by a different painter. (a figure painter and a still life painter) I had never seen an example of this, but the contrast is very cool!
"Death and the Miser"
16th and 17th Centuries:
"Samson Bringing Honey to His Parents"
"Portrait of Erhard Weigel"- One of my favorite pieces in the museum. There's something haunting about the way he looks out, he looks a little distressed, the painting in itself doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the work of the era.
"St. Margaret and the Dragon"
"Christ in the House of Mary and Martha"
"The Large Passion"- FABULOUS set of woodblock prints by Albretch Durer.
"Christ as Man of Sorrow"- dramatic and slightly gory close-up of Christ in thorns.
"Madonna and Child Flanked by Four Saints"- a small, gold-leafed triptych.
Early 20th Century-
"Hot Jazz (Bleeker Street Tavern Mural)"
"Down at Jimmy Kelly's"- Just a couple of rollicking fun paintings
19th century- My favorite over-all gallery
"Undine Rising from the Waters"
"The Neophyte"- somewhat humorous, with a new, scared looking monk joining the ranks of silence
"The Lagoon of St. Mark, Venice"
"The First Funeral"- (sculpture)
There's also a large Modern Art gallery, and an ever-changing photography gallery as well. If you follow the building to the far back, or go upstairs on a spiral staircase you'll come across the American sculpture gallery. Though there's nothing too impressive here, it's a good, quiet, sunny place to take a break. There's also a restaurant on bottom floor, but if you're hungry, a better bet would be nearby Colley Ave.
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