Summer Adventures: The Chrysler Museum of Art

The last time I visited the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, I went to see the giant, yellow rubber duck floating in the Hague. While I was there, I only had time to peek at one exhibit, so I resolved to visit again.

One of the best things about the Chrysler Museum is that admission is free, making it a perfect excursion for graduate students. The museum accepts donations. Or, you can contribute by purchasing something at the gift shop. (That's what I did.)

The sculpture in front of the museum is called The Torch Bearers by Anna Hyatt Huntington (modeled 1953).

My museum buddy Rachael and I didn't have time to look at every exhibit, so in honor of Independence Day, we only looked at the American exhibits. We started with modern art. What screams America better than Pepsi-Cola? (No offense to the Coke drinkers out there.)

This is Munchkins, I, II, & III by Idelle Weber (1964). It's a commentary on American corporate life and its "airlessness and isolation."


I snapped a photo of Manteneia II by Frank Stella (1967) simply because the colors are happy and I liked its funky vibe. According to the painting's description, "The names of the paintings in this series [Protractor Series], including Manteneia II, are based on ancient, circular-planed towns in Asia Minor and on the Persian architecture seen by the artist when traveling in Iran."

This sculpture was one of the most peculiar pieces we saw. The mixed media piece is called Soundsuit by Nick Cave (2010). Nick Cave also designs suits that are worn in performances and on runways. 

No matter how you feel about this sculpture, you must admit that the artist is a skilled crocheter. I wish I had his talent.

Rachael and I saw Pieta by Robert Richenburg (1954-1955) after viewing a lot of religious pieces from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. We stopped and stared at it. "Huh?" I questioned. "It doesn't fit with the rest of the pieces," said Rachael.

We read the description, "... Virgin Mary cradles Christ's body in her lap, their linear forms just visible amid a web of colors dripping down the canvas like a veil of tears," but we could not pick out Christ or Virgin Mary.

A helpful employee explained things: The orange circle at the top middle is Virgin Mary's head, and the leftmost orange circle is Christ's head. The black lines that emerge from the head represent his body and limbs. The woman explained that the museum integrates unexpected, modern paintings like this one to show that modern art can reflect traditional ideas and images in a new way.

I confess that as someone who is critical of modem art, I was convinced.

There were several rooms with marble sculptures, which reminded me of Pride and Prejudice when Lizzie visits Mr. Darcy's house with her aunt and uncle. This is called Ganymede and the Eagle (1815-1817) by Bertel Thorvaldsen. (If you guessed that this artist is not American, you're right. I had to sneak this one in because I could not get over the fact that those feathers are made of marble! Besides, the eagle is uber patriotic.)

Undine, Rising from the Fountain by Chauncey Bradley Ives (1880-1882): 

If you look closely, you can see the veins popping out of his forehead and wrist. The Wounded Indian by Peter Stephenson (1848-1850):

No musuem visit is complete without a trip to the gift shop. Guess who greeted us there? The last of the miniature rubber ducks. Aren't they cute?


I'll probably take one more trip to the Chrysler Museum this summer. They have a glass blowing studio that is very popular. You can watch the artists at work (free), and you can take a class (not free). I plan to do both. Stay tuned!

This post is by Rachel Smith, a writer for the Regent Law Marketing and Communications Department.

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