Over the weekend we experienced tremendous crowds for the opening of our highly anticipated exhibition, from here to ear. More than 1,600 people were able to experience the sonic gallery-turned-aviary.
Our visitors were in good spirits as they perched on gallery seating outside on the third floor landing. Those with smartphones passed the time by clearing out their inboxes, others forged new friendships and made connections. Our director of guest experience even created an impromptu lending library of books to help pass the time.
Down in New York, The Frick is experiencing their own kind of bird-inspired lines. Donna Tartt’s 770-page wallop of a novel entitled The Goldfinch is drawing massive numbers of people who want to experience the book’s inspiration — a small canvas depicting a goldfinch by 17th century Dutch artist Carel Fabritius — in person.
The book, which I find myself merrily tearing through right now, describes the enduring allure of the Golden Age of Dutch painting:
“Well, the Dutch invented the microscope,” she said. “They were jewelers, grinders of lenses. They want it all as detailed as possible because even the tiniest things mean something. Whenever you see flies or insects in a still life — a wilted petal, a black spot on the apple — the painter is giving you a secret message. He’s telling you that living things don’t last — it’s all temporary. Death in life. That’s why they’re called nature morgues. Maybe you don’t see it at first with all the beauty and bloom, the little speck of rot. But if you look closer — there it is.”
It’s an engrossing, hard-to-put-down read that reminds us of the transformative potential and mysterious tug a singular work of art can have.
If you find yourself waiting on line for our blockbuster finch exhibition, consider packing along Tartt’s newest novel. Your time couldn’t be better spent. And, on your way out, stop by PEM’s first floor galleries to see superlative works from the Van Otterloo collection — arguably the world’s greatest private collection of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish art. You just might find yourself looking at, say, Balthasar Van der Ast’s 1630 Still Life with Flowers with an ever more animated, curious eye.