El Museo

I once had a professor who was a highly educated Shakespearean scholar who went to Oxford. THE Oxford. The reason us ignorant first-year Western Civ kids knew or cared about the qualifications of that particular instructor was because we were told. On the first day. And the second day. And the third day of class.

Every day, really. Until we learned to repeat it back to him. Kind of like a game show, but with no prizes. Only shame that we were, none of us, worthy of Oxford.

We got into a fight once, me and the prof.



(That’s how he signed his letter to me, the six page rant he sent after one fight.) (A different fight…) (I had no idea that was called a  post-nominal until just now.)

Anyways, our fight that day was about the epic of Gilgamesh. You don’t really need to know the details of the fight, you just need to know I won. Against the guy from Oxford. It was a big day, one which really drove home the importance of cultural and historical framing when I’m exposed to art.

I remembered this story when Hubs and I visited the San Antonio Museum of Art recently. Our first half hour consisted of a lot of, “huh. They don’t have rooms like THIS at the Philly Museum of Art, do they?”

To be fair, you’ll find some really random things at the PMA. Like Rocky Balboa.

Some notes about SAMA:

1) I was really disappointed that they didn’t go with SAMOA for their acronym.
2) I loved the piece that greeted us as we walked in (pictured at the top of the post).
3) LOTS more native work from the Americas than we’re used to in the East Coast museums. (This is where the historic and cultural framework popped into my head. I spent a lot of brain-time working out WHY the different area museums would have different concentrations. It was fun.)
4) Not a lot of modern art. This kept our eyes from glazing over. Thumbs up.
5) Instead of lots of paintings, the museum was sculpture and artifact heavy. Hubs LOVED the room filled with ancient Japanese armor and weapons.
6) A whole room with Oceanic Art, another addition we’re not used to. (Didn’t really figure this one out. Do people on the Atlantic Ocean just not LIKE stuff from the Pacific?!)

These are some sculptures from the New Hebrides, which made me think of GB (a blogging friend).

Of course, then I had to spend a whole afternoon studying the history of GB’s “original” Hebrides (a Scottish archipelago), with the New Hebrides (down near Australia).

Then I wondered if the differentiation between the new and old Hebrides shared any similarities with new and old Jersey. (I have a vested interest, you see.) So I had to spend some time on that.

Then I figured, for fun, why not check into the other old/new combos? Caledonia must have been pretty sweet to get a “junior” version.

Then I had to know who named the one island Pentecost.

A blogger’s work is never done, you see.

Also, I’m turning into my father. I just spent four hours looking at maps. 



4 thoughts on “El Museo”

  1. You just awakened a very latent memory in me. I used to go to the Detroit Museum of ARt as a kid. You'd be surprised, I think, to find such a gynormous and impressive art museum in a city like Detroit, but it was a real gem. I've never seen its equal. LIke yours it was full of wonderful artifacts from armor to pottery to Eyptian jewelry to Polynesian daggers. So fascinating. But I had forgotten all about it until your post. Thanks for reminding me!

  2. You're so right about the blogger's work. In the old days, I would go to a museum, have a look, think “nice” and then happily forget most of the info. With the internet… You never know what just a quick glance at some insignificant little object might lead to!!!

    I once had an Oxford professor too. I can't remember ever winning over him. What I do remember is that he was appalled at the average Swedish student's ignorance of Greek/Roman mythology. Which made us very slow to pick up the symbolism in classical English poetry…

  3. Must be in the genes. The Gpa just spent a good half hour examining road maps of the southeast theh looked up and said, “I love maps!”

  4. Oh my gosh. That sounds like a really interesting place to visit. It obviously got your inquisitive juices running too.

    I am ashamed to say that I have no idea what the link between 'my' Hebrides and the New Hebrides is. So that's a job for later on today!

    I've just spent time at art galleries too over the last week when visiting with my brother.

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