Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Museums

We met some friends in Philadelphia yesterday to tour two museums: The Mütter Museum (museum of medical oddities, including body parts encased in formaldehyde) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (which is currently showcasing artwork by Frida Kahlo).

I would like to point out that The Mütter Museum was not my idea. I had vowed years ago that I would never tour the facility (I hate all things gross), but when my partner and friends dangled the Frida Kahlo carrot in front of my nose, I caved.

The Mütter Museum did not disappoint—I was queasy after the tour....just in time for lunch.

We had some time to kill before our appointment with the Kahlo exhibit, so we spent time exploring the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where as luck would have it, a fine collection of various types of sculpture, paintings, metalwork, ceramics, and FURNITURE (woohoo!) from 1680 to present is housed in the American Art section. Here are a few of my favorites:
  1. Wardrobe, 1779, walnut, yellow pine, oak, and sulfur inlay, and with rattail hinges.
  2. Side Chair, 1866, oak.
  3. Desk & Bookcase, 1827, mahogany, mahogany veneer, stained burl ash, white pine, yellow poplar, and stringing. The Franklin Institute's report on its 1827 exhibit in which this piece won an award stated that it was "the best piece of furniture" of its kind.
  4. Shaker Sewing Desk, Enfield New Hampshire community. Birdseye maple, cherry, walnut, and poplar.
  5. Spectacle Case, 1800-1850, cherry, Shaker. Note the ridged side pulls.
  6. PA German Painted Cupboard.
  7. Shaker Worktable, 1800-1850, white pine and maple.
  8. Giant Plug, cherry, from the Pop Art collection.
The Kahlo exhibit included a self-guided audio tour that was enlightening and informative, but we had some difficulty getting close to the paintings due to the large number of art lovers also on tour.

The museum closed before we had time to tour the other collections, which include European Art, Asian Art, Modern/Contemporary Art, and Arms & Armor, making it well worth another trip to Philly.

It was a fabulous Saturday—I've managed to erase the medical oddities from memory—and before we headed home, maybe because we were aglow from the spirit-lifting exhibits, maybe because we're a benevolent bunch, we decided to help a sister out with a little tweezing.
(click to enlarge photo)