Gardner Museum installation

My in-laws are going to Boston on Tuesday and, as it is the locale of my alma mater, they asked me where they should go. I said two things out of the blue: (1) The glass flowres at the Peabody Museum (only they aren’t at the Peabody Museum, but somehow I like the name of that museum best, so I mis-remember everything there, and (2) the Isabella Gardner Museum. Now, I have never seen the glass flowers and I only went to the Isabella Gardner Museum once. However, my mother-in-law is a gardener (that is not why I thought of the Gardner museum, but rather why I thought of the glass flowers), and everyone has always indicated that one MUST go to see the glass flowers. Now, while I’ve only been to the Gardner Museum once, I was very impressed with the fact that the museum was burgled many years ago, and due to the stipulation in Isabella Gardner’s will, the museum (unless they want to instantly lose the institution back to the private ownership of the family) must maintain the collection in the exact condition (art content, placement, etc.) in which it was given. Interestingly enough, those few paintings that were burgled are sorely missed. Their frames still stand empty amongst the beautiful remainders.

Why am I telling this story?

I went to the Gardner Museum website to see about information for their vist, and came across the most wonderful exhibition: “madamimadam” by Elaine Reichek. It’s really extraordinary. Not only are the images and sounds and movement of the piece really moving, but the mere fact of its happening is a statement in itself. As the webite explains:

In this virtual exhibition of her work amid Mrs. Gardner’s collection, the artist subtly overcomes restrictions in Mrs. Gardner’s will, which stipulates that her installation can never be altered.

This is really a great example of the ways in which digital space and interaction can explode the restrictions (economic and otherwise) that authority can impose on our “reality.”

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