I had an idea of what to expect from the Brooklyn Museum, but only an idea mind you. I first came across this museum in a book. Alas, not one I’ve gotten around to looking at for my Museums and Books series of posts, but a book nonetheless. It was in the first of Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles. You might be familiar with Riordan’s other series, Percy Jackson, which explored Greek Mythology. whereas this one looked at the stories from Ancient Egypt.
After exploring the Egyptian wing at the Met, you’d think I would have had my fill of mummies for one holiday. But who could say no to more Egypt?
We arrived at the museum early on a Thursday morning in early November. The sky was a brilliant blue, and there was an autumnal nip in the air. The kind that warns that winter is indeed coming, but is some way off still. It seems like this was a perfect time to visit, as we had the museum largely to ourselves.
Before we made the epic voyage to the Egyptian galleries, and before I start talking about the objects I want to talk about a sign. This sign.
As a Museum Person, I found this sign almost as interesting as some of the things on display. Before I started working in museums, things like this wouldn’t have caught my eye, but now, I stop and dissect it. I think things through and ask myself what kind of message it’s really saying. What works really well here is the explanation of why touching things is a bad idea.
Where it falls down: “Security staff will remind visitors not to touch the art.”
This sends the message that you’re being watched. That the members of staff that are watching you are Security speaks volumes. ‘Gallery Attendants’ often do the same thing, and Gallery staff keeping an eye on things is *much* less… accusatory? than Security.
Anyway… back to the museum
A Game of Thrones
Do you remember when I found something in the British Museum that reminded me of the infamous Iron Throne? I found another one here.
Unlike the example in the British Museum, this piece is referred to as a Harmony Chair rather than a throne of weapons.
Like I said earlier, it was the museum’s Egyptian collection that drew us all the way from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Luckily for me, there was a little exhibition looks at cats in Ancient Egypt. It was contained in one small room
It was a fun little display. The rest of the collection is displayed well too, especially the parts about mummies and the afterlife. There were some incredible papyruses (papyrae?) out.
What I wasn’t expecting to see, was some contemporary art. The Brooklyn Museum eased us into this gently with a nod to Egypt. In fact, it’s a close look at Nefertiti, who I met when I visited Berlin.
Nefertiti is/was renowned for her incredible beauty, and the famous bust of her adds to the story of this incredible beauty. What she really looked like, we’ll never know. It doesn’t really matter, but this artwork makes us question how we picture Nefertiti.
At first, this work confused me. What on earth could be going on?
The piano is playing a song called Strange Fruit, a song about the strange fruit trees in the South bore after a lynching. Reading this on the label made this strange piece much more powerful.