Saturday, August 06, 2005

A jewel in Newark, New Jersey

I'm always putting down New Jersey, so I have to say something nice about it sometimes, or people will ask, Why do you live there?

The Newark Museum is a gem. Go to their website (which is hideous) to see the wonders contained therein. It is the first place I take visiting out-of-towners, and they always enjoy it. Two really fine things: the Ballantine House, a real Victorian house attached to the Museum, which was owned by a rich brewer in Newark's glory days; and a Tibetan exhibit which will knock your eyes out, complete with an altar built to Tibetan specs and blessed by the Dalai Lama.

What brought that up, you ask? Well, I was reading the New York Times Arts Section about a new museum being planned by the Dia Foundation. This caught my eye:

After all, Dia has pulled off more improbable feats. Two years ago, when it opened a 31-acre outpost along the Hudson River in Beacon, N.Y., many in the museum world doubted that it would draw much of an audience. Today, that giant, sky-lighted museum, with 250,000 square feet of gallery space devoted to installations of works by artists who emerged in the 1960's and 70's, attracts almost 100,000 visitors a year, more than twice the number Dia ever drew in Chelsea.

I started to wonder: is 100,000 visitors a year good? How many visitors does the Newark Museum have? I know many people who made the trek to Beacon Dia, just to see the new building, and say they will never go there again.

Then there is MassMOCA, in North Adams, MA.* I went there once, and can only say, "Once a philosopher, twice a pervert."**

The Newark Museum is a wonderful museum. Can it help it that it's in Newark, New Jersey?

*Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art; I forget what the acronym stands for.

**Attributed to Voltaire. I think.

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