Cleveland has had a bad reputation since the 1970's when a few unfortunate and embarrassing events happened here and it became the butt of jokes for all comedians. But Cleveland (outside of the beleaguered public schools) is really an amazing city. In the next few weeks I am going to be a small but opinionated cheerleader for this city. I can't see anything that any other city has that we don't. Today I am touting the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has long been considered one of the greatest and most well-endowed art museums in the country. Our beloved museum closed three years ago for a $350 million renovation and expansion. We've missed it! But in July they reopened 19 galleries in the 1916 portion of the museum. By 2012 the renovation will be complete with two new wings added on.
I was able to visit the newly beautified galleries last week. The colorfully painted walls, the improved positioning and groupings of the paintings, and the gorgeous lighting from skylights made some of the galleries breathtaking to walk into. There were two highlights for me. The first was a room full of enormous paintings by Charles Meynier, of mythological figures such as Cupid and Psyche.(above)
The second was seeing one of my all-time favorite paintings highlighted on a freestanding wall all its own, instead of being stuck in a dark corner as it once was. The painting is called Noah: The Eve of the Deluge. When you first walk up to this painting it looks like a hillside with a dramatic, stormy sky in the background. But on a closer look you see a family in the foreground. A woman appears to be crying on a man's shoulder.(I would be too) Then you see in the distance multitudes of animals climbing the hill to enter the ark. Then you notice hundreds of birds filling the dark sky and descending on the ark as well. The more you look the more you see. The whole thing is ominous in its depiction.
So that's a very brief moment in visiting our museum, but if you're ever near Cleveland, believe me, it's worth seeing! You can click on the photos to enlarge - get a look at Cupid's face.