In every place I travel, I try to take in an art exhibition or two. Some museums I visited this year were world-class affairs that had seen hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations, while others were charming galleries specializing in works that reflected the local culture. Here are seven that were outstanding.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver has numerous galleries specializing in First Nations art and crafts, but the selection at Inuit Gallery is especially captivating. Its owner has an eye for quality, displaying only the most exquisite sculptures and masks, and gallery employees seem to know each piece intimately and are happy to explain the story of a work. Our visit was absolutely fascinating.
206 Cambie Street. Tel. (604) 688-7323
Textile artist Olga Fisch emigrated from Hungary to Ecuador in 1939, and there she became renowned for her gorgeous abstract tapestries and rugs. This Quito gallery still carries some of her original pieces, and her museum-quality wall hangings appear innovative even now.
Olga Fisch Folklore
Av. Colon E10-53 y Caamaño. Tel. (593) 2-254-1315
San Francisco, CA
Reopened in May 2016 after a three-year, $305 million renovation, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) features a fresh, cutting-edge design and houses a vast collection of creative contemporary works in all mediums. A new 235,000-square-foot annex has more than doubled the museum’s exhibition space. The SFMOMA has revitalized the art world in the Bay Area, and with educational opportunities and workshops for children, interactive displays, galleries free to the public and a gourmet restaurant, In Situ, the museum is now a must-see attraction on any visit to San Francisco.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 3rd Street, San Francisco. Tel. (415) 357-4000
Located close to the Orvis flagship store, this museum collects, conserves and exhibits the largest group of angling-related items in the world. Exhibits depict the developments of fly-fishing over the centuries and celebrate it not just as a sport but as an art. Displays of reels, showing how they evolved over the years, are utterly fascinating, as are the superbly mounted displays of flies. Also of interest is a collection of equipment used by U.S. presidents John Adams, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George H. W. Bush. Even if your interest in fly-fishing is casual, I highly recommend this charming, well-presented museum.
American Museum of Fly Fishing
4070 Main Street, Manchester. Tel. (802) 362-3300
In late 2014, three of Harvard’s notable museums were brought together in a beautiful new facility designed by Renzo Piano. One striking glass roof now unites the collections of the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. We spent a wonderful morning exploring the assembled riches, taking time to admire the Impressionist holdings in particular. Highlights from the Busch-Reisinger Museum include remarkable works of German art, while the Sackler Museum contributes an unusually deep Asian art collection. We meandered with no set purpose. Depth and diversity are why I love museums such as this — for their unexpected pleasures, and not just the obvious masterpieces.
Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge. Tel. (617) 495-9400
Hong Kong, China
Close to the Flagstaff House, this gallery contains an extraordinary collection of Chinese name seals, or “chops,” donated by a foundation established by Dr. Lo Kwee-Seong. Chops serve in China and other Asian cultures as signatures, but as they are topped with intricately carved figures, they are also regarded as minor works of art. This collection comprises seals from the Ming Dynasty to the 20th century and includes works carved by famous Qing artists such as the Eight Masters of Xiling. The most remarkable piece in the collection is a stone seal carved by Cheng Sui (1607-1692) of the late Ming and early Qing periods.
K. S. Lo Gallery
10 Cotton Tree Drive. Tel. (852) 2869-0690
The Shelburne Museum was founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb, a pioneer in the appreciation of American folk art. While she initially focused on gathering paintings, quilts, textiles and furniture, Webb also assembled tableware, waterfowl decoys, carriages and other artifacts from daily life. In addition, she put together a remarkable assortment of original structures that include a meetinghouse, a lighthouse and the “Round Barn,” all of which are spread across 45 acres in a townlike setting. Most unexpected is the Arnold Circus Parade, a 500-foot-long assemblage of figurines depicting the animals, clowns and wagons that would have been part of an old-time circus. Webb accurately described the Shelburne Museum as a “collection of collections.”
6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne. Tel. (802) 985-3346