May 29, 2005
MarkBernstein.org
 
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The big art museums in both Sydney and Melbourne are big, and both have vast, flexible, and impressive spaces. These are museums with lots of space, space they often use extravagantly. Compared to Boston's MFA, which has far too few rooms and far too few walls, it's an emphatic statement. (The Centre Pompidou has the same effect. Neither the Tate Modern nor the d'Orsay feel extravagant in this way, though they're built in vast industrial spaces)

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All the modern museums seem to enjoy this gesture of showing you the city in its own frame. Most architects set it off behind a partition; Sydney integrates it rather nicely. Australian museums are also the masters of very dim, dramatic lighting as here, and even more so in the Melbourne exhibit of Bill Henson's lusciously dark, monumental color photographs.

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