Elaine and I played Museum yesterday. Or Museums — three museums, four visits. First the DuSable Museum of African American History, for Freedom First, a large exhibit about Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, with photographs, posters, instruments, artifacts, and video. Then the Art Institute of Chicago, where we spent much time looking at European engravings and paintings. Then the Chicago Cultural Center (which we’ve again and again agreed we should visit), where we found paintings by Archibald Motley and the great surprise of the day, Love for Sale, an exhibit devoted to labels and advertising for Valmor Products, a Chicago company that sold perfume, cosmetics, and good-luck products to African-American communities. We had a quick and very early dinner at Cafecito and returned to the Art Institute for Whistler and Roussel: Linked Visions.
As Elaine observed, the Art Institute is turning us into curmudgeons: every time we’ve visited recently, the museum’s special exhibits of The New leave us cold. One tiny etching by James McNeill Whistler or Theodore Roussel outshines them all.