Monday, December 2, 2013

Museum Day

Art museums have come a long way. During my lifetime, they have gone from rather deadly places with paintings hung on off-white walls with little description of the work beyond the name of the artist and the medium, to lively venues with artfully displayed works, recorded acoustiguides, and raisons that give interesting context for the art on view. I have loved art museums ever since I was a young woman, but I really love them now.

Of course, if one is feeling crabby, one can fault them for following every single exhibit with a themed gift shop to boost the sales and profits from the show. I hate to tell them, but those reproductions are never going to represent the real thing in any meaningful way - I prefer just to savor my memories of my favorite pieces.

But, by and large, they do a swell job and, happily, museums from far away are often willing to lend their treasures, so I get to see many, many more works than I could ever afford to see by traveling to their home countries. 

A good case in point is the show currently up at the Legion, a show of Anders Zorn's work. I treated myself to a museum day last week when My Beloved was away on business and I knew I wouldn't be cooking dinner. Anders Zorn, a completely new artist to me, was a preeminent Swedish painter of the Gilded Age, and his control of watercolor and his mastery of portrait work were simply amazing. He could do it all, including marvelous landscapes. It's a gem of a show. (And, across the hall is a wonderful little show of Matisse works from SFMOMA, which is currently closed for renovation).

So, having slowly savored my way through the Zorn, I was a little foot-weary and ready for some lunch. I debated leaving the museum for a nearby coffee shop but, as it was raining cats and dogs, I decided to stay in. I was glad I had, as the menu reflected the Zorn show, offering four or five items of Swedish specialties. 

This is another museum trend that I highly applaud - tying the menu in the cafeteria to the exhibits being shown. What a fun way to give living, breathing context to a show from a country I will likely never visit!  I chose the Swedish meatballs because, believe it or not, I have never had those outside of the cafeteria line at school, not a good place to sample any food whatsoever.

My serving came with several tender, flavorful meatballs atop some garlic mashed potatoes and garnished with lingonberry jam and braised purple cabbage, along with a plate of dark rye bread and butter. The cabbage had a sweet-sour taste supplied at least in part by a whole, pitted apricot cooked in the sauce. The dish was savory, sour and sweet all in the same bowl. Perfect for a rainy day.

Refreshed and refilled, I was ready to enjoy the Matisse show across the hall. As I drove home through the rain, my head was full of wonderful images and my stomach was full of tasty chow. What more could I ask of a museum day?


Blogger Diane said...

I agree that the whole museum has greatly improved. and often the museum cafe has lovely food, themed or not. thanks for taking us along.

Monday, December 02, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Diane, it's downright fun to go, now! :-)

Tuesday, December 03, 2013  
Blogger Greg said...

Museum food has risen to a high level. It sounds like a fun day trip.

Thursday, December 05, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, it really was, despite the weather!

Thursday, December 05, 2013  

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