Albuquerque Museum of Art and History

Ok, so I have to admit the Museum of Art and History in Albuquerque, NM wasn’t the most exciting or thrilling of places I’ve visited, but it was still really interesting.

My favorite part of the whole museum was the Francisco Goya Los Caprichos exhibit in the North Gallery.  Los Caprichos are a series of 80 etchings published in the 18th century in Spain.  I absolutely was fascinated by them!  First of all, it’s Goya, a Spanish artist, and as a Spanish major who has studied abroad in Spain, it was very much a giddy school girl feeling to be standing only a foot away from his work.  Secondly, the etchings themselves are incredible works of art that have so much detail.  I could probably look at them hundreds of times and still find new things in them with each viewing.  Finally, Goya wrote actually wrote titles, or captions, underneath each of the etchings.  Being fluent in Spanish, it was super cool to be able to read and understand them 🙂 But also, there were English translations next to them, as well as personal interpretations as to what Goya might have meant.  The translations were nice, but some of the personal interpretations were very bizarre, but kind of in a laughable way.  It just blew my mid, for example, how someone thought an etching of witches clipping their tonenails could be interpreted to be a social statement for public cleanliness.  I dunno, maybe I just don’t see it.

My favorite Capricho of all time, though is the one with a young man sleeping and winged animals in the background; it’s caption says “El sueño de la razón produce monstruos”, which translated means “The sleep of reason produces monsters”.  The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea.  Sleep is the time for imagination, to let your mind soar to new heights and unique worlds.  If sleep is dominated by reason, the mind becomes stagnant with no creative outlet, eventually producing “monsters”.  I’ve always been someone with an “over-active” imagination, so to see an innovator like Goya take the time to stress the it’s importance made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

The museum has several other exhibits as well, all of which have handy-dandy cards next to them, of course.  But if you really want to know about the paintings, sculptures and exhibits, the most interesting opinions and knowledge come from the security guards.  When I was at the museum in the Contemporary Gallery, one of the security guards walked right up to me and just started telling me things about the paintings.  Some of the info was actually really interesting, like the origin of the phrase “it costs an arm and a leg” comes from people paying extra for a portrait of their whole body rather than just their face.  Some of the info was incredibly bizzare and strange, like museum is supposedly haunted by the ghost of artist Georgia O’Keefe and the security guard swears he’s felt her presence before in the middle of the night after calling out for “ghostie”.  Either way, talking to the security guards definately provides for an unique persprective.

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