A Place For A Muse: A New Series Coming To AIP!

My wife is a working artist and educator. I have dabbled in art most of my life. So vacations nearly everywhere we go includes visits to museums or other cultural sites. So this idea has been wandering around in the back of my brain for a month or two now. But it is finally starting to come into focus.

But basically the idea is to write about actual museums. When critics visit museums it is generally to review a particular seasonal or traveling show. All well and good and quite exciting to read. But unless a museum is opening or re-opening after a remix/remodel, nothing is written about the actual museum.

So my plan is to change that. As we travel and visit museums I certainly may continue to comment on significant shows…but I want to document the actual museum; its location, its physical appearance, its physical presence, its various amenities, and its collection(s) or specialties.

Sound like fun? I hope so.

But why the title, A Place For A Muse? Well one of the hang ups in putting this idea to work was a working title. And that all came apparent to be apparent while attending a university class on mythology and the professor mentioned that museum comes from muse. And looking around the internet I found any number of fuller translations from the Latin or Greek…like seat of the muses, shrine to the muses, place for the muses, etc. So I pondered any number of these sources and definitions and went with a simpler and hopefully more apropos title.

Hope you come back to read about my discoveries and thoughts about museums!

Revealing Krishna: Journey To Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain at the Cleveland Museum of Art .

Revealing Krishna is one of the current highlights at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It tells the story of the circuitous route that their Cambodian Krishna carving took to arrive at the museum as well as the several attempts to restore it and connect it with it’s correct pieces.

One of the gratifying parts of the story is the co-operation between the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and the Cleveland Museum. Earlier attempts to restore the Cleveland statue resulting in mismatched pieces…which eventually led to swaps of statue fragments with the National Museum to get the statue in Cleveland and another in Phnom Penh matched with their correct pieces.

Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan after 2020 restoration, c. 600. Southern Cambodia, Takeo Province, Phnom Da. Sandstone; 203.1 x 68 x 55.5 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1973.106

In addition to Cleveland’s Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan, the exhibit includes a number of other CMA holdings of Cambodian sculpture plus this stunning carving of the same subject on loan from the National Museum in Phnom Penh:

Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan, c. 700. Southern Cambodia, Takeo Province, Wat Koh. Sandstone; 161 (without 27 cm tenon) x 65.5 x 35.2 cm. National Museum of Cambodia, Ka.1625. Photo: Konstanty Kulik 

But this exhibit goes beyond the wall cards and wall text that is standard signage in any museum. There is also a visual component that uses a visor and holograms to present details of the restoration process, original site in Cambodia, and the trek that the statue made on its journey to Cleveland. And the exhibit ends with a number of interactive videos that present three dimensional representations of the eight sculptures of gods from the original site along with text explaining who they are and how they are significant to the site and the story! Beyond the ‘in the flesh statues’ this last bit was the most informative and for me at least the next most useful piece of the exhibit.

The “Gods of Phnom Da” digital gallery displays life-size 3-D models of the eight gods of Phnom Da, from c. 600, with motion-activated animations exploring details and iconographic elements. Photo: The Cleveland Museum of Art

More info: Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain runs until January 30, 2022. There is an entrance fee for this exhibit of $15 but there are discounts for seniors and students and others. Tickets are timed and can be ordered at the link above.

Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan (detail), c. 600. Southern Cambodia, Takeo Province, Phnom Da. Sandstone; 203.1 x 68 x 55.5 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1973.106

Janauary 6, 2022: update. Here’s a short documentary from PBS: How 3-D technology helped restore ‘Cleveland Krishna’ statue