An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

January 11, 2009

A Day in the Chrysler

By the title you may think we were outside enjoying Saturday's 60 degree weather in a car, but we were in fact inside the Chrysler Museum of Art . We are fortunate to have an art museum in Norfolk that is on par with with cities that far exceed our size. The original museum was very "old school" and had a little of this and a little of that, but in 1971 Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. left the bulk of his art collection to the museum. He was an heir to the Chrysler automotive fortune his father had built and Junior's wife happened to be a Norfolk native. My how the mighty trust funds have fallen. The Chrysler is known for many things, but perhaps they are most famous for their glass collection. A good portion of it is not my cup of tea, but there are a few things I really enjoy like the Tiffany lamp collection (it was too dark to take pictures) and the contemporary glass.

Click to enlarge the picture of Chess Set by Gianni Toso. The white side is made of up Catholic figures and the black side are orthodox Jewish figures. Wouldn't it be fun if Toso also had a radical Muslim, extremist Hindu or an ultra fundamentalist evangelical set. They could play each other at chess instead of killing each other for real. Another part of the glass collection is this ghostly glass dress (Dress VIII, Karen LaMonte) which is the perfect size for a small girl. Although they have art from all eras, I tend to gravitate towards the more contemporary art (Bedroom Painting #2315, Tom Wesselmann). Music, Philip Evergood
This is my son's favorite piece. You can never go wrong with a robot made out of TVs (Hamlet Robot, Nam June Paiks).
I am very fond of Edward Hopper, and this is his New York Pavements.
This is one of my favorite paintings in the museum, The Neophyte by Gustav Dore. He has that 'what have I gotten myself into" look on his face.
I am also drawn to this (Une Japonaise, Jules Joseph Lefevre).
The following two pieces face each other across the hall, (Orestes Pursued by the Furies, Adolphe William Bouguereau)...
... and this, a collage made from pictures of junk and scrap, both are nearly floor to ceiling.
Pre-Columbian happy couple...
... and more recently (Portrait of Marcelle and Pierre Monnin, Alfred Leslie).
This is the symbol of the city's authority, the Norfolk Mace. It was created in London and presented to the city in 1753 just as Norfolk was becoming a municipality. During the Revolution it was buried in a Kempsville yard to keep it from the British. Decades later, a Confederate Colonel concealed it behind the stairs in his home which was occupied by Union troops, but the mace was not discovered. It is the only American mace that still belongs to the city for which it was created.
You know I could not leave without a few shots of the museum garden. There were a couple of magnificent Live Oaks and a nice European style courtyard. I will visit again during Dogwood or Hydrangea season.


  1. Outstanding photos. You did a great job capturing the the unexpected depth of this amazing museum. When I take friends from out of town, they always marvel that Norfolk is home to such a significant collection. I especially enjoyed your shot of "The Neophyte" - my Chrysler favorite.

  2. Thank you for the trip. :) I loved the cute little figures on the chess board - innovative! And of course my favorite painting of Orestes and Furies. William-Adolphe Bouguereau is such a great artist - one of my favorites!

  3. Thanks Les,
    Think it is time to go back to the Chrysler. I love their Tiffany collection and the Impressionists that are upstairs. My favorite is one of the Renoirs. Last time I was there a couple was playing frisbee with their Australian Shepherd.

  4. I've lived just a city away from it all my life and never have been. Maybe this will be my year. Thanks for the tour!

  5. Les, I've never been to the Chrysler--clearly an omission I need to correct soon. I love the "cover" of the Bouguereau painting--and I have to see those live oaks. Thanks for reminding me about what's in my own backyard!

  6. That chess set is so cool. I also like your thoughts on it and current day figures playing 'chess'. Thanks for sharing this, I did not even know there was a Chrysler Museum. What a gem.

  7. Michael,
    Thank you for commenting, and I must say you also have some beyond outstanding photos on your site.

    I am glad I could share one of your favorite paintings.

    I could live in the Tiffany room. I hope the couple was not playing frisbee in one of the galleries (hah).

    Alan and Cosmo,
    Anyone that lives in Hampton Roads should go. It is only $7 to get in, but there are discounts and if I am not mistaken it is free on Wednesday.

    Thanks for stopping by. If you visit this area again, you should put it on your to-do list.


  8. I loved that chess set, I am very keen on them. Thanks for such a lovely post.

    Greetings from London.

  9. A very nice tour Les! It's so easy for me to forget what offerings my own city has...with both Cheekwood and the Frist Museum. I do love the Live Oaks; they are magnificent trees. Gail

  10. The Chess Set is so beautiful! The robot is interesting. I must put this on my list of "To Do's" if I can ever get hubby to take me to Norfolk, VA. We were in Fredericksburg, VA for Christmas and did manage to fit in a Botanical Garden visit to DC. Wonderful place as always, (If only we could change some of the people working in the big white buildings). arggggg

  11. ok...i lead a sheltered life....need to get out more. it just took me 15 min to figure out how to ask u (les)
    a question 46 going on 90...LOVE, LOVE , adore, did i say love ?? gardening !! it's my 1st time blogging, be your pics , really getting into photography lately, but what i really want to know u know where i can find some False Indigo 'Purple Smoke' seeds ??? i'm always on dave's garden (i'm turektaylor) hope i did this right.. thanks a bunch .. is it spring yet? mary ann

  12. Cuban,
    I am glad you came so far to take a look. Please come again.

    I had to go to a very boring conference in Nashville when I had another career. I played hokey and took the city bus to Cheekwood and had a much better time than learning about contagious bodily fluids.

    Lucky that you got to visit the Bot. Gardens. If it is the one near the Capitol I am jealous. I have not been in decades.

    Mary Ann,
    Welcome to my blog. You can get 'Purple Smoke' pretty easily. I know most good garden centers will carry it in the spring and I know you can get it on-line from Plant Delights and possible Wayside.


  13. It's nice to be able to take pictures in a museum. Alas, my city's museums forbid it.

  14. Chuck,
    I was surprised that we could take pictures. They of course would not allow flashes, and we were not allowed to take shots in the Rockwell review.

  15. Nice post - I did some work on the new courtyard at one of my previous jobs. I wish the budget had been a bit larger...we originally designed some masonry walls to flank the gates but alas it was not meant to be.

  16. Phillip,
    I have a problem with the new courtyard. The red brick posts that support the iron work, don't seem to fit in with the rest of the architecture. In fact I think they really stick out. Maybe if they were parged with stucco the same color as the rest exterior it would be better, but what do I know.