I’m surrounded by art in my job as an auctioneer and appraiser, but sometimes that’s still not enough. There’s more art out there than I’ll ever be able to see—some of it located in far flung reaches of space and time. If I had a futuristic portal I could step through right now, here are five places I would go:
5. The Museum of Bad Art: Dedham, Somerville, and Brookline, Massachusetts
I’m privileged to see some wonderful works of art in my job as a fine art appraiser, but to be honest, even the best collections have a few clunkers. These can be seen as glaring and horrific errors or they can be seen from a more positive light. I like to think of beginning my art museum fantasy road trip with MoBA as an amuse-bouche or a palette cleanser. Beginning here will only make everything else seem all the more wonderful and delectable.
4. Storm King Art Center: New Windsor, New York
Who wouldn’t love to wander about the rolling hills of the Hudson River Valley, surprised at every bend in the path by an amazing vista dappled with art? The most amazing way to explore this destination might be on cross-country skis on a clear morning after a thick powdery snow the night before, but since the Center isn’t open in the winter, I’ll rent one of the bicycles they have available instead. Pedaling over the 500 acres sounds like heaven!
3. The Guggenheim: Bilbao, Spain
The “Gugger” (as we affectionately call it in the Starr household) in New York City is famous for its unique space as much as for its collections. Likewise, the Guggenheim in Bilboa is worth a trip to see the architecture. Frank Gehry was at the height of his powers when he designed the huge indoor and outdoor spaces of the museum. While I’m here, I plan to stop for a little something to eat in a local café. Food, like art, stimulates the senses and emotions, and I find the two together can’t be beat.
I confess that I had another reason for adding Bilbao to this list. As a graduate student, I was lucky enough to travel the pilgrimage road, albeit backwards, from Cuxa, up through Moissac and Toulouse, to Le Puy and Burgundy, and finally to Paris. I’ve always regretted never having traveled any of the Spanish leg of the road, and from Bilbao would certainly continue along the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela.
2. The Egyptian Museum: Cairo, Egypt in 1900
I’d love to experience Cairo at the height of the excavations, and hopefully bump into a few archeologists—perhaps the somewhat bumbling Wallis Budge, George Reisner, and a young Howard Carter with his mentor Flinders Petrie? I’d dine at Shepheard’s (though I’d have to buy a new gown), and the visit would also include a trip up the Nile and back to see the sites—pre-Aswan dam flooding—in my fully staffed dahabiya.
1. Pompeii, Italy
Last but not least, my final stop has to by the ruins of Pompeii. Unlike Cairo I have no desire to step back in time, and certainly not to August 24, 79 AD, when a volcanic eruption buried the town! I’ve been to Italy several times, but have never made it farther south than Rome. Pompeii contains temples, theaters, and houses, mosaics and frescoes. It was a resort town at its height. As gruesome as the destruction was, and as the casts of Pompeii’s last residents remind us, the place must be nothing short of extraordinary. After visiting Pompeii, I’d have to stop by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, where most of the artifacts from both Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum are housed.via Wikimedia Commons: Storm King Calder, by Fred Jala from Seattle, Washington, USA (IMG_1114) [CC-BY-2.0]; Guggenheim Bilbao, by Samuel Negredo [CC-BY-2.0]; Pompeii Fresco, by Wknight94 (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0]