Amateur Art History Reports: Columbia Museum of Art

I am not entirely happy with this report, but at the same time, I feel like I have written all that I could write about.  However, I do plan to come back to this report.

Columbia Museum of Art

As of now, I have visited the Columbia Museum of Art four times.  I enjoy this place for their accessible look at the history of Western Art.

I do have some criticism on how they organized their permanent exhibit together.  Despite that their permanent exhibit art starting with ancient Mesopotamian art and ends with contemporary artists, a person can easily can easily walk into a wrong room and mess up the linear journey.  By the way, they have a Dale Chihuly in the lobby.  ETA: This glass red and orange monstrosity dripped down resembling liquid going through a funnel.

This year, the museum displayed huge 16th century Viennese tapestries done by Flemish artists.  When I say huge, I am not exaggerating.  The exhaustive detail of each tapestry will leave you breathless.  The tapestries also had gold thread that acted as an accent to the pieces.  By the way, I noticed some Egyptomania that featured men wearing a Pharoah’s head decoration that framed all the tapestries. The museum also informed the visitor of any errors found in the tapestries.  These eight tapestries tell the story of Romulus and Remus from their birth to the beginnings of Rome.  Furthermore, with Rhea Silvia and the Sabine women, the story begins and ends with women acting as mother of civilisation.

Next to the tapestry exhibition, they had a retrospective of pottery from the fifties to the eighties.  Specifically, the artists largely coming from Arizona and New Mexico.  However, the show does give us the occasional Asian potter.  The exhibit showed pottery that could have function or not at all.  That and the occasional humor.  Everyone showed a range of influences from the Classical to Pop Art.  A lot of the pottery had a rough texture to it as well.  The artists showed evidence of their hands  However, Rose Carat stood out in a big way compared to the others.  Her works such as Onion Feelie look like delicate bubbles not made by human hands.  The contrast reminded me of the Impressionist style versus Academic style debate over who had the better execution.  Did one keep the brushstrokes in the painting or do they make them disappear?

The permanent wing of the gallery.  While the Cameron Museum of Art in Wilmington can overwhelm a person with its colored walls, the Columbia Museum does not.  As previously mentioned, the permanent exhibition begins Mesopotamian artifacts and ends with contemporary artists.  A good thing about this wing comes from them showing artists who do not receive a lot of coverage compared to other artists.  Artists such as Gianfrancesco Rimini, Domenico Morone, and Pieter Claesz.  At the same time, they do have well-known artists such Botticelli, Francois Boucher, Parmigianino, and Hiram Powers.  Plus they had Canaletto, Piranesi and Sir Joshua Reynolds.  Still not impressed?  This museum also has a Monet.   Speaking of paintings that do not receive discussion, they have a painting that shows the Virgin Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus.  Andrea Solario did the work.

I do have some criticisms.  While their Asian art exhibit has variety, it still felt overwhelmed by the elaborate Western art exhibit.  As someone who has read articles that deconstructed the way museums exhibit non-European art, this stood out to me a lot.   On the plus side, they do feature paintings by an artist named Spoilum.  The information boxes said that this came out due to the country’s trade with Europe.  Something one does not hear about a lot.  On the other hand, if one wants to look for women artists in the permanent exhibit, you will find very few.  Other than that, I like this museum a lot.

By Akhenaton06 [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons

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