A few weeks ago I did something I’ve been wanting to do since March—I went to the new Bloch Galleries at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Actually, the Bloch Galleries are in an older part of the museum, but they have been newly renovated and new works displayed.
Henry Bloch of H&R Block fame recently donated a number of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works in his private collection to the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Impressionist paintings are among my favorites, and I was thrilled to see an expanded collection in my local art museum.
I started with lunch at Rozelle Court—always a treat. After soup, half a sandwich, and a raspberry peach mousse tart, I headed to the Bloch Galleries.
It was a delight to see old favorites from the Nelson-Atkins Impressionist collection combined with the new works from the Bloch Collection. For example, one panel of Monet’s Water Lilies has been in the Nelson collection ever since I can remember. This grand painting still takes up a whole wall of one gallery.
And I took a moment to wonder at Monet’s brush strokes.
Then I marveled at collections of old and new works filling other corners of the new galleries, like little gems gathered into a net. A new treasure in every room, around every corner.
I could have stood for hours in each of these lovely corners. But a couple of small exquisite pieces from Mr. Bloch’s collection in particular caught my attention.
As well as a painting that resembled one my grandmother had for many years (though the painting she owed was no Monet).
After spending an hour or so wandering the Bloch Galleries, I went in search of other treasures. When I go to a museum, even one I’ve been to often, I usually try to go through a room or two at random to see what I might find. This time, I wandered through the American Galleries at the Nelson, hoping I might find some inspiration for my next book cover. I didn’t find anything that sparked my interest.
So I wandered into the Chinese Galleries by happenstance. I haven’t been through the Asian Galleries at the Nelson in several years, though the Nelson is renowned for its Asian art collection.
This time, I was struck by similarities between the Chinese art and the Impressionist works I’d just seen. I walked past two formal displays of furniture and paintings. I’m sure I’ve seen them in the past, but this time I noticed the fine details in a silk panel and in a small painting of a mountain, each of which brought to mind the delicate elegance of the Impressionist paintings in the Bloch Galleries.
Art spans the centuries and the continents. It is specific and yet it is universal.
Realizations like this are what keep me going back to the Nelson-Atkins Museum time and time again. Such realizations and the desserts in Rozelle Court. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.
What do you enjoy most about at art museums?