I decided to visit the Memorial Art Gallery — I love art museums and, in now four years of living in Rochester, I haven’t gone, so this class was a perfect excuse to go.
I definitely noticed that MAG does an incredible job at pulling in the viewer. From the moment I pulled up to the front of the museum, I was intrigued, by both the cathedral-like building that houses the museum and the large red sign on the outside of the front door that exclaimed “Knowledge is power!” in black letters. The sign was only there because of a traveling exhibit, but it was a great way to start the visit, mulling over the message of “knowledge is power.”
Walking into the main gallery, I was presented with another example at how the museum pulls in viewers.
An eclectic collection of portraits graces the front wall as you first walked through the doors. The text on the left of the wall welcomes you to the gallery with a simple question: “What better way to begin a conversation about art than with images of the human face?” By presenting a visual as ubiquitous as the human face, the MAG is able to display a variety of styles and eras to the viewer, sparking their interest and desire to explore the museum and find where each of these pieces came from, as well as start a conversation on how artists approach the same subject differently — how different styles evolve or influence the works we see. To me, this was a very clever, visual way of introducing a visit to an art museum.
As I continued exploring, I found how the layout of the museum encourages you to wander and explore every nook and cranny. Most museums I’ve been to consist of wide open rooms with a few larger works in the center. Columns and hallways zigzag through the MAG, gently leading you toward the displays of works. Each section is clearly labeled by subject, making it easy to navigate and know exactly where you were and what you were looking at.
Overall, I enjoyed my visit to the MAG. It’s a lot smaller than other museums I have been to, but its smaller size almost made it a much more intimate visit. The focus was purely on the work itself, and not much else, which I greatly appreciated.