My Visit to the High Museum of Art

While I was in Atlanta, I obviously scheduled a few excursions outside of the hotel, because it’s what I like to do as I go stir crazy. (And to be honest, people hate-y, although this time wasn’t bad more for the reason I felt like I didn’t see anyone at all.) Anyway, while just chatting on twitter, someone (sorry! I can’t remember who!) told myself and Isobel that we had to go to High Museum of Art Atlanta (HIGH) because Girl with a Pearl Earring was there as part of a special collection (Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis). Well, I love the Dutch Masters. I’ve had the opportunity to see a special collection of Rembrandt’s works and it was amazing, so I knew I had to go.

I already had a busy schedule, but I started asking people how they felt about high art. I finally found a victimfriend, and Beth said she was excited to go. Whee! I contacted HIGH about my visit, and it was arranged so they provided me with tickets! Which was awesome! In fact, fortuitously two! (Thank you, HIGH Museum of Art!)

First off, it’s really easy to get there. We took a cab there, but MARTA back. There are a lot of great restaurants nearby as well, so you can get lunch, dinner, or brunch at any point surrounding your visit. Beth and I had a tiny bit of a walk around to find the entrance of the museum, but once in, it was easy to get to “the good stuff.” The exhibit was on the second floor, and the elevators were right there. We took the audio tour, which was nice. It wasn’t like other audio tours I’ve ever listened to. There were a number of people speaking, and although they each gave their credentials, I don’t remember who they were. (Oops.) Beyond giving some information about the work, oftentimes the speaker also did a sort of casual “art crit,” remarking on parts that they liked, which people may not have noticed. It was a fun personal touch that I’m sure encouraged people to look at the paintings more carefully.

It was a lovely collection, and there were a number of works that I’d never seen before, which was awesome. I don’t know if it was possible, but I wish the lighting had been slightly different, because there was often a reflection or glare on the protective glass which made the paintings difficult to observe. Otherwise, I feel lucky to have had a chance to visit HIGH because the exhibit was only in San Francisco, Atlanta, and will be heading to New York. There were a few Rembrandts I got to “revisit,” as well as works from Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael and Adriaen van Ostade. (Beth and I also felt the Rachel Ruysch was a favorite.)

Of course the culmination of the tour was Girl with a Pearl Earring, which got its own room complete with foot barrier, and dim lighting. I stood there for quite some time, and had a moment. <3

It was very clever for the exhibit to open into a small gift shop that had books, cards, the usual museum store items, and even a chocolate bar with Girl with a Pearl Earring printed on the wrapper. There were even magnetic Girl with a Pearl Earring finger puppets. (In fact I’m now wondering if I can find a book of the collection “out in the wild,” as I didn’t buy one there…)

Then, we went downstairs, and found what felt almost like a gallery, with all (I believe) the pieces created by local artists, which opened into a room of African Art. It was a fun display that I think children would like. They had two or three ceremonial masks mounted on a wall, with two screens showing video of the actual ceremonies. Certain this wasn’t all to be see, Beth and I and asked about the HIGH’s general collection, and what the “must see” works were. (I’m not sure if we were asking volunteers or staff.) We did this because we had lunch plans, and Beth had previously informed me she was forced to endure countless hours at museums, so we weren’t going to spend all day there, but didn’t want to miss anything.

You have to go through something of a walkway, and then into what I’d personally call the “main building” of the museum. We were actually a little surprised by how “small” the museum is. I suppose I’m spoiled when it comes to museums, but for Atlanta being such a large city, Beth and I were a bit perplexed. Nevertheless, there’s an interesting mix of modern art, American Art, and European art from various periods. (In fact I realized you can browse the museum collection online! Super cool!)

We found two Monets, one from his Houses of Parliament series, and one landscape. I hadn’t seen either before, so that was nice. (The Monet had been our goal, because the girl told us there was “a Monet” so it was a bit of a scavenger hunt.) After walking through a few floors (it’s a really cool open layout with a winding ramp between floors), we were hungry and decided to leave. I do want to note the American Art (I did a project on it in school so it’s got a special place in my heart), as well as a Degas I don’t remember seeing in any art book. Another find! There were some gorgeous displays of crystalware on the walk up, and some whimsical British china with a lot of cute motifs. Lots of “the four seasons” and items shaped like fish, frogs, and the like.

I like that the museum has the “open layout” but with the ramps, there are some nooks that can house the smaller collections with a particular theme in its own space. It’s really nice because the open layout gives you a general idea of the collections so you can have a specific target if you’re “on a mission” like we were.

The grounds for the HIGH museum are very nice, and the architecture is gorgeous. I can totally see a number of wonderful events being held there. If I visit Atlanta again I’d like to see how the collection is developed. Also, on Thursdays they have “Thirsty Thursdays.” Who wouldn’t like half price tickets and drinks available for purchase? If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend seeing if there’s a special exhibit that catches your interest. Or, if you’re looking for something to do on Thursday evening. [Oh, and if you’re wondering why this is so text heavy, you need a special permit to take pictures in the museum, and I didn’t think to apply for one previously, so sorry – none from me this time!]

4 thoughts on “My Visit to the High Museum of Art

  1. GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is a favorite of mine. Growing up, my parents had prints of the Dutch Masters around the house. I would have gone with you, but my commute from Australia would have been a killer.

    • Awww Mary, that would have been SO COOL if you had been in Atlanta!!! Maybe the collection will travel to Australia. It’s on tour because its “real home” is under construction right now ;)
      Also nice your parents had prints around the house – what’s funny is I love art but I don’t have any.
      Just seeing Girl I think will be one of my general highlights for a long time. I hope you get to see it at some point – good excuse to travel right? :D

  2. I would have loved to see “Girl with a Pearl Earring” but I’m sure I would have ended up buying ALL THE THINGS in the gift shop :) They had a Monet exhibit in NOLA a few years back and I stood in line for hours to be able to see it. Sounds like you had a lovely time.

  3. Patti, I absolutely adore Monet. One of my favorite paintings ever is his purple waterlilies. I know it’s “cliche” but I feel like I kinda grew up with that painting so it’s more ok. ;)
    And oh I didn’t even consider the lack of lines – Beth and I totally didn’t have to wait to get in. The gallery had a good sized crowd, but it wasn’t too bad, so that’s another major plus in my column about HIGH. Perhaps also because the exhibit was there for so long? Which is wonderful.

Join the conversation!