Freebie fly-by

blanton.jpgTaxpayer dollars should subsidize admission to the Blanton Museum; that, however, is not the policy of the People in Charge. But Thursdays are free to all. Here are some first impressions, starting with the approach to the building. It’s disconcerting that the greensward in front of the Education building has vanished; this was much used and it also set the foreground of what is a building of much greater architectural distinction. The Blanton does not mark its entrance with any visual cue. A guess is that the main door is somewhere beneath the pleasant arcade, and that’s correct. The little allee between the main building and the construction site for the secondary building is attractive now and will only become more so. The signage inside is not distinctive or even particularly informative. The central atrium may or may not be an suitable location for social events; what the acoustics may be when the area is crowded would affect its successful use for such purposes; the treads of the staircase are visually distracting for those with poor vision; the staircase is not half so dramatic or imposing as what can be seen in any 19th-century Texas courthouse. The collection itself is most useful as a teaching aid. The prints and drawings are distinguished. The small but fine collection of landscapes of the American West is also notable. There are those who have commented that they dislike the Battle collection of plaster casts of ancient sculpture. I enjoy them for the sense of scale that they provide for people accustomed to seeing representation of these works only on the printed page. By the way, the portrait statue of Augustus Caesar would lead one to believe that Augustus bore a great resemblance to our own Terry Keel (or vice versa), although perhaps not in stature. A wonderful discovery is the second-floor “e-lounge,” outfitted with toys, coffee-table art books, seating of various kinds, including what appear to be Aeron chairs (they are very comfortable), and computers accessing an intranet mostly having to do with the museum. From the windows of this room can be seen the Capitol and the Bullock museum. On free Thursdays, this will be a great hideaway refuge for nearby workers seeking a little noontime peace and quiet and a good place to read that has plenty of natural light.

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