Confessions of a Museum Nut
I adore museums. Walking into a museum to be surrounded by billions of dollars worth of the most beautiful and interesting art and artifacts in the world is an endlessly enriching experience.
One of my favorite clients many years ago was the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
The membership mailings we cooked up were great fun—invitations to upmarket names in close-by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut ZIP Codes with a terrific offer:
Join the Whitney and come the gala new member's reception to preview the upcoming [NAME OF ARTIST] Retrospective on [DAY, DATE] from five to nine p.m. Included: open bar, light snacks and private tours by the curators. Family membership: $50.
John Singer Sargent was boffo. Red Grooms and Charles Demuth good. Charles Sheeler and Donald Judd just so-so.
My Family's Museum Connection
My great-grandfather, Alfrederic Smith Hatch, made millions, spent millions and died broke.
In 1870, he was flying high as president of the New York Stock Exchange. That year he bought Resolute, a 100-foot sailing yacht and contracted with renowned artist Eastman Johnson to paint a Hatch family portrait—self and wife, in-laws and 11 children.
After his passing, the painting hung in my grandfather's house for a number of years and then was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has been on permanent exhibition ever since and is revered as a classic of its genre.
It was a wonderful gift that has given great pleasure to museum-goers since 1926.
Why I Also Dislike Museums
My grandmother's brother, Charles Noe Daly was a gun nut.
Uncle Charlie (who died before I was born) amassed the world's greatest private collection of firearms. Among the goodies:
- Saddle Gun used by William of Orange
- Elephant Gun of Henry Morton Stanley (as in "Dr. Livingston, I presume.")
- The crown jewel of Daly's collection was pistol especially made for the legendary British naval hero, Lord Horatio Nelson. The weapon had a unique cocking mechanism. Back in the 18th century, pistols were held in one hand and cocked with the other hand.
The Charles Noe Daly pistol had a special lever to enable Nelson—who had only one arm—to cock it on the railing of a ship.