Randy Kennedy looks at the unique opportunity The Cleveland Museum of Art has in the opening of its new additions:
When the entire project, which the museum calls the largest cultural undertaking in Ohio’s history, is completed, the museum will have 30 percent more exhibition space, for a total of almost 130,000 square feet. But while the added room will be welcome, almost more important for curators has been the opportunity to do what large, encyclopedic museums almost never get to do: completely take apart and put back together a vast permanent collection, and in so doing retell the story of art through its holdings.
For the first time, the museum’s sub-Saharan collection will be shown in galleries next to its ancient Egyptian works, uniting art made on the African continent. A grand foyer, long artless, on the original building’s ground floor will be home to the Apollo bronze, one of the museum’s great prizes, acquired in 2004 and, if indeed by Praxiteles, the only known bronze by him in existence.
Michael Bennett, the museum’s curator of Greek and Roman art, said the decision to place the bronze as a kind of herald at the entrance to the Classical collections was motivated partly by Apollo’s traditional role as headmaster of the Muses. “This building is essentially a Greek temple, after all,” he said, adding of the statue: “He also just looks fabulous here. He reads from miles away.” The work will sit on a plinth that raises Apollo’s head to slightly above six feet, allowing visitors “to look right up into his eyes,” Mr. Bennett said.
In Cleveland, A Frenzy to Prepare Antiquities (New York Times)