Sunday, November 08, 2009

Art in nature

The other evening I went to the Royal Ontario Museum to see the Vanity Fair Portraits exhibit, one i'd missed when I was living in London and it was on at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition was excellent - a good range of photos/subjects/info, and quite a lot to see! Well worth a look if you can get along.

After seeing that exhibit, my companions and I wandered around in some of the natural history sections of the museum - dinosaurs and the biodiversity section mostly. A lot of people ran out of steam after all of that, but I managed to have a cursory look around in the minerals and gems gallery - i'd never made time for it before, usually having reached the point of museum fatigue before then.

I'm not super into geology as much as I am other -ologies that turn up in museums (more on the anthropology or zoology side of things really), but i'm always interested to see how any things are displayed in museums. This gallery was part of the ROM's refurb I guess, because the whole thing is gleaming and beautifully laid out.

The gallery is almost like something you'd find in a modern art museum, or in a art/design kind of museum. (It actually reminded me a little of the asian ceramics display at the British Museum). Cases were in aisle-format, filled with precious little specimens gleaming in perfect light; objects too large for these cases were given pedestals or large cases in focal points. Each little or big piece was like some sort of objet d'art.

The best part about all of this, of course, is that it's art from science. There's no need for an artist's statement, no driving force behind the creation of each little piece other than the drive of the earth itself. Unlike older types of museums and displays where objects were laid out in a fashion to show as much as possible with very little information, this gallery has not only a good range of specimens, but also a high level of labelling and interpretive information (from what I could see on a cursory walk around). I love the gallery and the layout, the design of it all. I may not be as passionate about the subject matter as I am some other things, but even in a 5 - 10 minute wander I got a lot out of it. I'd like to go back and poke around a bit more I think.