Every year starting in June, hundreds of tourist make their way to Washington, DC for sightseeing and education. Not only is DC the capital of the United States but for some it also happens to be the capital of museums. Indeed summertime seems to be the museum season, and much like movies schedule their blockbusters for summer, some museums have their blockbuster exhibits schedule during this “busy season” too.
Although I like visiting any sort of museum or exhibition, there are some little-known yet unique and interesting spots that could suit those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger museums. Here is a little destination list for those who might be interested spending a sultry summer day cooling off with some artistic and architectural icons.
Yale Art Galleries
Last Weekend I had the chance to visit the Art Galleries at Yale University for the first time. Among architecture and design buffs, the two galleries are quite famous because of the architect who designed them – iconic architect Louis Kahn. The two galleries are located in downtown New Haven, Connecticut, the home city of Yale University, adjacent from each other on the same street.
The positioning of the two buildings is also something to be noted – as the Yale Art Gallery was the first completed major commission of Kahn’s career, and the Center for British Art, which was the last completed commission for Kahn. He is probably most famous for his unique designs of contemporary spaces that evoke the aesthetic and atmosphere of classical spaces.
The buildings themselves were truly marvels, and indeed, could be considered as the largest pieces in the collection. Coupled with an excellent art collection, the gallery experience was filled with awe but was also in a way relaxing.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
For those who are into more classical art and historic house museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is at the top of my list. Everything about the museum evokes a story – from how Mrs. Gardner acquired her art collection, to the story of the museum’s establishment and its colorful history over the years.
The most striking thing about this place, perhaps even more interesting than the fact that Mrs. Garnder actually lived there – or that she herself built it to house her collection, is that present today are the remnants of an art heist that took place there. Because Mrs. Gardner explicitly stated in her will that the museum should remain as she had left it – the empty frames on the walls that once held Rembrandts and Degas remain as they were.
Donald Judd Foundation / Marfa, Texas
While heading off to a town in the Desert might not be the most appealing summer destination, the town of Marfa, TX is definitely some place I’d like to visit in the future. The small desert town, with a population of just over 1, 900, gained exposure when minimalist artist Donald Judd moved there from New York City.
In Marfa, Judd installed his famous minimalist works on a larger scale, with some permanent works marking the landscape. Since then, a community of artists sprang up in Marfa, and it has become a destination for art enthusiasts and practitioners, with some art foundations have residency programs in the town.
Apart from the Judd sculptures and artists’ community, Marfa is also known for its natural wonders – the most famous being what are known as the Marfa lights. The lights resemble the aurora borealis, with the difference that they appear only on the horizon as more shimmering lights instead of large beams.
Apart from relaxing, summer vacation is always a good time to explore exotic or unconventional destinations – and some museums can definitely become destinations in their own right!