A short visit to the Bayly Art Museum…

A short review.

After missing the class visit to the Bayly, I decided a couple of weeks ago to take my own tour of the University’s Art Museum. The signs outside direct one to the front door of the Bayly where one can enter the front hallway. A small alcove affords an opportunity to deposit personal items as well as view short films on various aspects of the exhibits. The gallery to the left is air controlled and contains the current exhibits of the Asian collection.

Even though the ticking of the clock seemed a bit out of place in an Asian exhibit, I did get the opportunity to view a very nice collection of artifacts from four areas: China, Japan, Korea, and the Indian area. On display were a collection of such items as small statues, wall hangings, and paintings on a variety of media. I especially enjoyed the Korean wall hanging of a tiger painted on silk that dated back to the eighteenth century. Since my in-laws are Korean, I found it especially compelling in both its design and cultural significance. I did not realize how integral the tiger image is to certain Korean artists. The set of accompanying study placards mounted on foam core boards were very helpful to take along and use while observing each piece of art in this section.

Upstairs is a small permanent exhibit on ancient art of the Mediterranean area. I enjoyed an up-close view of some Roman tile work by an unknown artist as well as a variety of Greek vases and Roman statuary. Some of the 500 B.C. era Greek vases were remarkable in their subjets and paintings and reminded me of work in several prior courses of study in archaeology and ancient civilizations.

The traveling exhibit displayed a variety of items about the landscape of slavery. The variety of perspectives on both the importance of artifacts as well as what they really tell us about the nature of the lives of slaves was very interesting. The whole idea of life on a plantation was presented from various artists’ perspectives and many of the works illustrated themes that inspired thoughtful contemplation about the true nature of this period of American history.

I had the opportunity to talk at length with one of the docents who had worked there for many years. The museum has an interesting history and UVA is one of only a few places that has had its own functioning art museum for such a long period of time. He described the plan to build the new art museum on the corner down the street. This new arts center will provide space for both visual and other forms of art and it will be quite an exciting project. However, when completed, it will mean that the Bayly will most likely become part of the school of Architecture. The new building will provide considerably more space for the display of the collection as this gentleman indicated that only a small fraction of the collection can currently be displayed at the Bayly.

The Bayly is an asset to the University of Virginia and provides a valuable space for contemplation of a diverse set of inspirational pieces of art. It will be sad to see it “retired”, but exciting to move its treasures to a more functional, modern facility in the near future.


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