Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jaques, Susan. A Love for the Beautiful: Discovering America’s Hidden Art Museums.

Globe Pequot Press. 2012. c288p. illus. index. ISBN 978-0-7627-7950-5. $19.95.

In this lavishly-illustrated (more than 250 full-color photographs) guide, Jaques (Bachelor of Arts, History, Stanford University; Master of Business Administration, University of California at Los Angeles), a journalist specializing in art and travel and a gallery docent at The J. Paul Getty Museum, introduces readers to art collections in fifty lesser-known American museums. Covering museums in thirty-one states with “geography” factoring into her selection process, the author showcases “diverse” museum collections that remain “hidden” or “under-the-radar” to many museum goers, even though they may be located on the “beaten path” or in “plain sight.” (p. xii) Not known for their blockbuster exhibitions or encyclopedic holdings, these “unsung,” “largely unknown” museums constitute “collecting” museums that display “extraordinary” art from their permanent collections and “tend to be exceptional in specific areas.” (pp. xii-xiii) They typically offer “unique” art-viewing experiences that are “genuine, intimate, and uncrowded.” (p. xii) Jaques organizes her book into fifteen chapters, each of which features three or four museums that have extraordinary collections in certain areas. She titles chapters: African, Pre-Columbian & Oceanic Art; American Art; Ancient Art; Asian Art; Contemporary Art; Decorative Arts, Design & Craft; European Painting, Eighteenth to Twentieth Century; Medieval, Renaissance & Baroque Art; Modern Art; Native American & Western Art; Photography; Sculpture; Single-Artists; and Spanish & Latin American Art. In each entry for a museum, Jaques describes the museum, its founder(s), buildings, collections, and history. The author also sets forth each institution’s address, contact information, website, hours of operation, and admission fee(s) as well as briefly highlights a few of its “must see” pieces. Of interest mostly to art lovers and travelers, this accessible, artfully- designed, engaging, informative, nicely- written, thoughtful, and well-presented publication by an experienced writer, traveler, and museum aficionado may be read from cover-to-cover and/or consulted by chapter and/or entry. While Jaques’s selection criteria and classification scheme may seem too arbitrary, inexplicit, personal, subjective, and/or superimposed for some readers, this book nevertheless belongs in many public, academic, and special libraries. It is recommended for individual readers as well as for library reference collections. Review copy. Availability: Amazon, Barnes &