A Museum in a Monastery

Posing with a sculpture outside the Ulrich.

Remember how I have been collecting art museum visits for the second quarter century of my marriage? I am not doing a great job recording it, but I do have the Kimbell, the Ulrich Museum of Art on the Wichita State Campus many times in the last couple of years, and of course many visits to the Wichita Art Museum, which I have inexplicably never documented.

Recently I was able to add the Musee Des Augustins in Toulouse to my list, which feels like a HUGE accomplishment! (My Chrome browser has a feature that offers to translate French pages to English, so very handy.) We didn’t have long enough to see the whole museum, or to linger with what we did see, but I thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The museum is in an old monastery, which is pretty cool all by itself. The pipes for a huge old pipe organ are still in the first exhibition space we went to, and on Wednesday evenings there is an organ concert. Most of the museum’s collection leans local, which is astounding, since it includes Romanesque sculpture, gargoyles, a host of Toulousain artists, and French artists I know. I was quite surprised by the pieces by Toulouse-Lautrec they had on display. His posters have never really grabbed me, but getting close to these original paintings, I found his work to be much more compelling. You can see how much of the canvas he left untouched just capitalizing on that negative space. His paintings had energy and life, and he managed to snare it with the fewest possible strokes, I think. I admire that minimalist approach.

Outside the monastery.

A beautiful setting for a museum collection spanning the 1300s through the 1900s.

I am looking forward to taking Theo and seeing more, more slowly. The day we went must have been school field trip day or something, because class after class was assembling in various galleries while teachers explained exhibits in French. Pretty cool! And the students were all so attentive and well behaved.

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Filed under Art, France

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