Saturday, May 7, 2016
The WONDER of it all
When: second floor through May 8, 2016; first floor through July 10, 2016
I'd been holding off on visiting this exhibit until a friend of mine from out of town came to DC. I thought he'd enjoy this show, and he'd not been to the Renwick before. I'm very glad he came when he did, as part of this show is closing tomorrow, so we got in just under the wire.
Smithsonian, why was this staggered closing not more prominently shown on your website? Having enjoyed this show so much, I'm horrified to think I could have missed most of it. You know I love and support you (by visiting, by blogging and by contributing financially), but when you make a mistake, I call you out on it. Better info in future please!
So what was the show like? It was WONDERful. It takes up the entire museum space (which is not terribly large, but still, that's a big exhibit) - each installation gets its own room. Each installation needs its own space because they are all HUGE. You can walk around the pieces, for the most part, or are immersed in them - they are interactive in a way that paintings on a wall are not.
The work shown here was perhaps my favorite - string in the colors of the spectrum that looked like a prism. It may not sound like much, but it was hypnotic to watch. I was also very much taken with the piece on the ceiling of the Grand Salon, meant to represent the waves of the Japanese tsunami. I don't think there were any wall notes suggesting that people lie on the floor and look up at it, but that's what people (of all ages) were doing. And the bug room! It reminded me of the "Day of the Dead" decorations I'd seen in a Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia last summer - and those are real bugs on the wall.
Note: unlike every other time I've been to the Renwick, this show is CROWDED. If you added up every person I've seen in the museum the other times I've been there, it wouldn't be a tenth of the number of people there yesterday afternoon. And all of them have phones. Which they are using to take pictures of themselves standing next to the art. Repeatedly. More than once, I had to wait to enter a room because someone was taking photos. I'm happy for the museum that it's getting so many visitors, but I confess, I'll also be happy to see a show there without so many other people.
Verdict: If you can possibly see it this weekend, do not miss it.