Monday, October 17, 2005

De Trip to the De Young

The de Young art museum officially reopened on Saturday in what was probably the biggest museum event in the U.S. this year. To mark the occasion, they had free admission and stayed open all night.

So I devised a plan: We would show up around midnight and beat the crowds. Boy, did I miscalculate! When we got there, the line to get in was still stretched out the door and around the side of the museum. People said it was taking hours to get in. (It makes me wonder what time of night we would have had to show up to beat the crowds... 2 a.m.? 3:30?)

We gave up on the main line and decided we would visit the tower instead, which had a separate line. The de Young has this cool twisted tower, which was quite controversial when it was first proposed (people said it would make the museum look like an air-traffic-control building). Anyway, I don't hear much criticism now -- I think it works pretty well.

We made it up into the tower, where we suddenly found ourselves in a confined space with an a capella group (the horror!). This was one of many cultural activities under way at the time -- we were later trapped in a stairwell by an African tribe that I believe was sacrificing a goat.

After we came down from the tower, we found a way into the main part of the museum -- without waiting in line. Ha! I was tempted to shout "suckers!" to everyone there, but I didn't want to give away our status as interlopers (since we didn't have the green wristbands they had given to everyone else).

By that point, it was getting late. So we didn't see that much of the actual art. But I liked what I saw. I recognized some of the pieces from the old museum, but they arranged the works in new and interesting ways -- like a section devoted to trompe d'oeil works. I also enjoyed the collection of Wayne Thiebaud paintings (and I learned today that he was in attendance Saturday night. I should have harassed him).

When we left, people were still streaming in. In fact, I've never seen Golden Gate Park so active -- at night at least. Hopefully the museum will be able to maintain this level of interest when people actually have to pay to get in. Suckers!