Saturday, September 3, 2011

NASA / ART: 50 Years of Exploration

Where: Air and Space Museum

When: through October 9, 2011

I confess to a lack of enthusiasm when I head to the Air and Space Museum.  I've discussed the reasons before, so I won't go into them again, but it takes a lot to make me think a trip there is worthwhile.  This exhibit, although not as stunning as the photographs of the planets previously on display in the same gallery, was quite good and interesting.  Plus, the kids are heading back to school, which means there are not so many families on summer vacation, and the school trips have not yet started.  Hence, the museum is less crowded now than it is at practically any other time of the year, which is nice.

This exhibit highlights some of the artwork that NASA has commissioned over the years to document the space program.  This began in 1962 and now includes over 3,000 pieces created by over 200 artists.  I think it's interesting that NASA should have begun and continued this program, that, in addition to the many photographs and documents that exist to show the agency's history, they felt that artists should play a role in this mission as well.  I was surprised at how many artists whose work I've seen in other shows appear in this one.  There are two Norman Rockwell pieces on display, that obviously were not part of the Spielberg/Lucas collections show at American Art; there is a work by Alexander Calder, whose portraits I just saw a couple of weeks ago, and even a Nam June Paik piece meant to commemorate Apollo 11 - more scribbling, I'm sorry to say.

On another note, I noticed that the gallery across from this one is now closed.  There had been an exhibit in there that looked pretty tired and dated, that I reviewed here a few months ago.  A new exhibit (I confess I don't remember the topic - space exploration is just not my thing) will be opening in 2013.  Makes you realize how long it takes to set up an exhibit, especially one that will be permanent.

Verdict: This show is worth a trip over to Air and Space.  You can see it in a lunch hour quite easily, and the crowds are not so large as they would be usually.

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