The town where I attended art school was no bigger than Durango, and like this mountain
hamlet, it was just as far from world-class art institutions.
Although the education I received served me well, being remote from major museums was a hindrance. I couldn't see the
work I was studying in art history or be inspired by contemporary masterworks. Without
actually seeing the originals, we were expected to learn the nuances of the world's great paintings.
During one session in particular, projected on the screen, in a darkened class room, was Georges Rouault's The Old
King." I stared at it for a full minute while the professor exalted the work and its significance, but for the life of
me, I didn't get it. There's just no substitution for the real thing.
A month after graduation, I moved back to New York and was wandering through the Whitney Museum when lo and behold, I
spotted the original Rouault painting. Seeing it up close, so alive," was astounding. I understood in an instant what
the teacher was trying to communicate. The painting was brilliantly colored, constructed with impasto layers of paint,and conveyed a sadness and strength that was lost in the two- dimensional projection.
And while my epiphany took place before computers and the Internet, that singular incident taught me the value of
museums and the importance of experiencing art in person.
It is unfair, if not impossible, to accurately judge a work of art unless you can see it in close proximity and/or
walk around it, but that doesn't mean you can't learn something from a reproduction.
Today, anyone with access to the Internet can view collections of almost every museum in the world. Virtual" tours
allow the curious to avoid lines and the ever-increasing admission fees, as well as eliminating the exhaustive
traipsing through the hallowed halls of such institutions.
Kunstpedia.com, an art information site, recently analyzed more
than 680 museum Web sites worldwide and found the Museum of Modern Art in New York as the most visited, with the
Metropolitan Museum of Art a close second, and the Louvre third. This doesn't mean they are the best museums, just the
If you explore Kunstpedia's list, you will find museums around the globe, some esoteric in nature, others legendary,but all with easily visited galleries" that afford close-up viewing of art as well as providing information about the
piece and the artist.
The list enables links to each of the museums, so you can click away, globe trot and explore some of the greatest art
No, I haven't changed my mind about judging art from a projected image, but living in a town far from art museums and
exhibit halls, Web sites can still be informative. If you have the urge to see the real thing, take heart in that of
the top 10 most visited art Web sites, six of the museums are in the United States; the J. Paul Getty Museum (number 6)
and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (number 8) are the closest to the Four Corners.
Go ahead, take a peek. It will whet your appetite for more.
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and has written about art regionally and
nationally. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.