Monday, June 8, 2009

The Meadows Museum: Looking at Dallas Like You Weren’t From Here

When you live somewhere it’s surprisingly easy to overlook some wonderful places to go. I was reminded of this a week or so ago when, over a period of less than a week I visited three museums—two in San Francisco and the Meadows Museum here in Dallas. The museums in San Francisco (the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) were impressive, but the Meadows Museum is also impressive and you only have to go as far as the SMU campus to see it.

The Meadows Museum has the best collection of Spanish Art outside of Spain, and while it isn’t quite up to the standard of the Prado, which I visited last fall, it still has an impressive enough permanent collection to hold your attention for at least an hour or two—and that’s about as long as I like for a museum visit anyway. We weren’t there to see the permanent collection, however, but the Etruscan exhibit. It was fascinating. Etruscan culture is both familiar to me from the study of classics and unknown, because almost nothing survives in the Etruscan language—only two works longer than 100 words still exist. The last person known to read Etruscan was the Roman Emperor Claudius, who died in 54 A.D.

The Romans defeated the Etruscans in their first great war of conquest and the entire culture disappeared. In any event, the sculpture left on their tombs and temples was impressive, as you can see from the picture. I was most affected by the enormous number of decorated safety pins in the exhibit—necessary without buttons—and other simple items, like a kitchen strainer. The strainer, in particular, was almost identical to one I use every week.

The Meadows Museum is free on Thursday evenings, as is parking in its garage. Beginning on June 21, 2009, a special exhibit of Diego Rivera’s portraits will be featured. You can’t be the price.

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