I recently became a member of the Crocker Art Museum, because it seemed like a good-citizen thing to do, seeing as the Crocker is Sacramento’s major (and perhaps minor, as well) museum. I had been once before on a hot summer Sunday but I wasn’t particularly impressed. It was small and cramped and, my god, what else do you expect from an art museum in Sacramento?! Still, they’d recently done some building and were touting themselves as new and improved, so I forked over my membership dues and prepared to be underwhelmed.
I went to the new Crocker Art Museum with my next-door neighbor who offered to pay for parking if I would drive. I love adding another street address to my already-overloaded GPS, so I agreed. I even cleared off the passenger’s seat for her. Thanks to said GPS, we made the drive from Elk Grove to 3rd and O with ease. I could see the new building–all square lines and modern–and figured this parking my neighbor had talked about was underneath it (shades of the Getty in LA). I figured wrong.
If you’re one of the lucky few, you get to park at a $2.50 meter on the square next to the Crocker. Or you can park in the $3.50 lot behind the square. Or you can park in the $10 lot across from the square. Ten dollars? For parking at a museum that you still have to pay to get into? And the powers that be of museum-land wonder why the general public doesn’t support their local museums–gimme a break! Adding insult to injury (far be it from me to sling triteness into the mix), the gizmo that took the money was programmed to be slower than a dialup on a busy day. We got to the Museum at 1:28; our parking ticket was time stamped 1:52. And then we had to walk all the way back to my car to stick it on the windshield and walk all the way back to the Museum and it was raining and cold and the lot wasn’t paved. To say I was annoyed is an understatement. I knew from past experience with myself that my day was ruined. I would give myself a headache censoring my urge to tell every Crocker employee how stupid the parking situation was. Moreover, the museum was going to underwhelm me and I’d probably never come back again. But what did I expect from an art museum in Sacramento!
Dear Reader, I was wrong.
From the moment I walked into the new building, which is bright and airy and looks–geeze, it looks just like a world class art museum–my mood reversed itself. My museum-going persona came out, the one who is curious in a nerd-like way and willing to swim into the experience. Perhaps no small part of my joy was seeing the goodly number of fellow museum-goers around me. Hey, Sacramento is not just the Kings and proximity to Tahoe!
We went first to the Auditorium where we heard a short presentation on the history to date of the Crocker. As usual, when the doors closed, I had a frisson of panic: I’m trapped in a boring boring boring situation and I can’t get out. But–it wasn’t boring; it was actually quite interesting and actually quite impressive to think that the Crocker had all this art. Who knew?! Then we saw a short film on the genesis of the new building which was equally impressive. Made me feel quite proud to be from this place. It’s hard to make that kind of institutional video with any kind of creativity, but this one was visually interesting as well as informational and the filmmaker, Laurence Campling, gets my applause.
I’m not the sort of person who can do a whole museum in a day. I get object overload after an hour or so, so we just saw a couple of the exhibitions. Gottfried Helnwein’s “Inferno of the Innocents” is mind-boggling, and there were several in the Contemporary California Art collection that I could live with forever.
My euphoria extended to the Gift Shop–such wonders I did buy–and the Crocker Cafe, which is run by Mulvaney’s, both of which I will visit when I return. Which I most certainly will–after I’ve sorted out the parking.
Photo source: museumpublicity.com