Archive for category Museums

A Fantastic Summer at the Art Museum: ‘Guarding Leonardo da Vinci’

Yes, it’s April 15th, which means your Federal income taxes are due today. On a much more positive note, it’s also the birthday of celebrated Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452-1519. I’m always excited about Leonardo because I studied Art History as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, situated within a day’s drive of our nation’s capital: Washington, D.C. The close proximity is quite nice, as it affords me with the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art on a regular basis. The NGA is the only museum on the Western Hemisphere that houses a Leonardo painting.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de' Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washinton, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

The Ginevra de’ Benci, executed in oils during the 1470s, is a rather masterful portrait that still continues to marvel visitors today. It was purchased in 1967 with funds from Alisa Mellon Bruce. I sat down recently for an interview with my co-worker, Toni Engel-Gonchoroff, to explore the impact that Leonardo da Vinci’s work has had on her life. She worked as a museum guard at the NGA, keeping a close eye on the Ginevra during the summer of ’68.

Check out the interview below or via Youtube. I’ve also included a montage of my own artistic endeavors. As an aside, this video was my first foray into the realm of film editing programs such as iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro. In spite of the challenges, it was quite exciting to pull this project together!

As I mention in the video, “Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty” runs from today (April 15th) through June 14, 2015 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The same exhibition concluded last week in at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg, Va, as well as the Leicester Codex viewing at the Phoenix Art Museum. The Ginevra de’ Benci is part of the permanent collection at the NGA, so there’s no need to hit both Boston and D.C. on the same vacation if you’re on a tight schedule. Finally, this year marked the limited release of  “Inside the Mind of Leonardo,” with Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who”) as the Renaissance artist. What will 2016 bring for us to enjoy from Leonardo da Vinci?

Thank you again to Toni for agreeing to share her story.


Update on 5/3/2015: I made edits to the interview after I received a response to one of the pending photo requests.

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Film Review: ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ is More of the Same

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

What appears to be the final chapter in the “Night of the Museum” series was a bit of a mixed bag as Larry (Ben Stiller) and the gang headed off to London. The tablet that keeps the exhibits alive is losing its juice, making everyone act differently. It seems only Ahkmenrah’s father (Ben Kingsley) can reveal the answers for this problem. We still have Teddy (Robin Williams), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck), and Dexter the monkey in for this adventure. Joining them in London is Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and the night guard Tilly (Rebel Wilson).

Meanwhile, Larry has to wrestle with familial woes. First, his son Nick doesn’t want to go to college (Skyler Gisondo). The more surprising and hilarious front is Laaa (also played by Stiller), the new Neanderthal. Laaa is taken with his new “Dada” and imitates and follows him whenever he can.

In some ways, “Secret of the Tomb” is disappointing in choosing not to develop some points more. Rebel Wilson and Ben Kingsley seem terribly underused. There’s not much on the plot either, as the solution for fixing the tablet is overly simple. The film can leave you feeling a little sad because of the recent passing of both Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney. It’s difficult to imagine another “Night at the Museum” without Williams, who was definitely a highlight of the series as Teddy Roosevelt.

There are still some moments that are very amusing, if rather brief. Larry takes on a dragon or a demon with an AED. Unlikely friends Jedediah and Octavius leave a comment on a Youtube video. Later, they unknowingly fall into the city of Pompei and then take a selfie. Overall, the film will keep families entertained. As Teddy himself remarks, the point of the exhibits is to inspire children to learn and do great things.

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News: My Interview Question to Peter Capaldi for ‘Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D’

During an excursion to our nation’s capital, I was pleasantly surprised to see the activity on what I’ll refer to as the “Leonardo da Vinci scene” when I checked my phone. I’ve already mentioned the Leonardo exhibitions in 2015, each of which seem to be well worth the trip if you can get around to it.

However, it’s not often that you can count yourself as part of news developments, as was the case in my situation. The team behind the U.S. release of “Inside the Mind of Leonardo” asked for questions on November 25th, either to put to Peter Capaldi or to discuss behind-the-scenes aspects of the documentary. I sent in the following question:

My question to the (Spin) Doctor. We didn't get any spin in his answer. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

My question to Peter Capaldi, the (Spin) Doctor. We didn’t get any spin in his answer. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

Every day, they’ve been posting small clips with the questions they selected for Capaldi to answer. They uploaded the answer to my inquiry just this past Saturday, which you can view here or down below:

I like the point he makes in his response. Your first inclination may be to view the Renaissance as a great period of bustling activity, knowledge-sharing, construction, and so on. Certainly, we know from historical accounts (museums and archives, too) that the workshops and courts were busy. However, it didn’t mean that progress was made on all fronts or that all ideas were readily and quickly accepted everywhere. The geniuses in history often faced an uphill battle on some of the masterpieces or intellectual concepts they were advocating.

I highly encourage you to check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information about the project and to see what other interesting questions people are submitting. Don’t get left behind on all things Leonardo because there will be a lot of great stuff you’ll wish you had seen!

“Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D” is being released in the U.S. under History Films and Submarine Deluxe. Directed by Julian Jones, it stars Peter Capaldi as Leonardo da Vinci.

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2015: A Big Year for Leonardo da Vinci in U.S. Theaters and Museums

Welcome to another installment of TV Spyglass, the Saturday edition if you will. I just published an article about the new screening dates for the documentary “Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D” (2D at select screenings). It stars Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who,” “The Thick of It”) as Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance artist celebrated for both his scientific studies and artistic talents. The focus is generally on the Codex Atlanticus, one of Leonardo’s many journals.

If you are lucky enough to see the documentary later this month or in January 2015 (or on DVD later?), you may be wondering how to enhance your Leonardo experience. Sorry, I couldn’t help but put a spin on the master’s own reference to himself as a “disciple of experience.” The big question therefore is this: Do I have to travel to Europe? The good news for those of us on this side of the pond is a resounding “no.” Fortunately, I know of four different places where you can go, two of which are in fairly close proximity. Read the rest of this entry »

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