My in-laws had taken the Pictlings to visit the Chrysler Museum of Art while Mr Pict and I were still at home in Pennsylvania. They, therefore, elected to stay at the vacation house and play on the beach while my husband and I went into Norfolk to visit the Museum. The basis of the museum is the collection of Walter Chrysler, son of the car manufacturer, which he donated in the 1970s. It’s an amazing and impressive collection housed in a wonderful space. What is even more incredible is the fact that admission is free. It was the absolute highlight of my Spring Break trip to Virginia.
We started out in the glass galleries. I am a massive fan of art glass. I wish I could collect glass but I have kids and cats in addition to limited disposable income so I just have to admire and covet glass. The collection was beautifully arranged with clear and informative labels. Mr Pict liked the ancient glass, especially the Roman pieces. One of these ancient pieces was signed by the maker, Ennion, in Greek. I thought that was pretty remarkable, to actually be able to know the name of the glassmaker across all those centuries. I also enjoyed seeing a harmonium with its glasses ready to make music, and a sugar bowl containing coins within bubbles of blown glass, glass pens, and a mustard dish in the form of a bull’s head. My favourite area in the glass collection was dedicated to the Art Nouveau movement and contained a trove of wonderful pieces. There were glowing stained glass windows, lustrous vases, intricately designed table lamps, and glass sculptures by the likes of Lalique. I also loved the 20th Century and contemporary glass area. There was a window designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Darwin D Martin house, a cabinet of glass curiosities by Steffen Dam that mimicked natural forms, a little glass house, and a wonderfully shimmering circle that really drew my eye no matter where I was in the room.
After visiting the glass collection, it was time to go and see a demonstration of glass blowing. We headed across the street to the studio space and took some seats in the front row. We got to see one of the in-house glass artisans working with an intern under the instruction of the artist Stephen Paul Day. The process was very complicated and was fascinating to watch. It involved glass blowing, inserting ceramic sculptures into the glass, building up layers of glass gradually, attaching glass sculptures together, and a whole lot of other stuff besides. It was a great demonstration since we got to see a number of skills and techniques and the woman who was narrating was very knowledgeable and engaging. I certainly learned a great deal.
We returned to the Museum to see some of the non-glass exhibits. We were too short on time to visit every gallery so we elected to focus on the Impressionists and American Impressionists. Each room was beautifully curated with every piece given room to breathe and be appreciated in isolation while also communicating with other exhibits in the room. I was generally very taken with the Chrysler Museum, would have loved to have spent more time there, and would definitely return if I was in the area again.
That evening we decided to do something together as a gang of eight. We decided to go to the Commodore Theatre in Portsmouth, a restored Art Deco cinema. The cinema itself was impressive with its 41 foot screen and incredible sound system. The sound in particular was very immersive. We were also seated in armchairs which made it very comfy and the whole place was so massive that we had ample space around us. What made this cinema trip a new experience for we Picts, however, was that it was a dinner cinema. We have some in our home area but have never been so this was a first time for us. We could, therefore, order food and drinks which were delivered to our tables and then we could munch our way through the movie. I did not actually eat as I was too full from lunch but the others did. The food was standard junk food – pizza, nachos, chicken strips – but the kids all enjoyed the novelty of eating dinner in the cinema. The movie we saw – Ready Player One – was pretty mediocre but was made more enjoyable and entertaining by the context.