Marciano Art Foundation

There’s a new museum in town and I got to see it last weekend courtesy of my friend Cathy who scored tickets and kindly invited me to come along. Like The Broad, tickets to Marciano Art Foundation are free but you need to reserve online in advance – new tickets are released on the 1st of every month. I looked through the museum’s website briefly before going and got the impression that the art pieces are a lot like those at The Broad. While it’s true that they have similarities – both are products of private collections – Marciano Art Foundation surprised me in many ways.

First of all, rather than using a newly constructed building, the museum was converted from an abandoned Masonic Temple. I’m not going to attempt to explain the esoteric world of the Freemasons because I really don’t know anything beyond Robert Langdon’s lectures in The Da Vinci Code, but I knew enough to understand that they’re a part of history shrouded by mystery, and you can definitely sense that throughout the exhibits as the they incorporate imagery and objects left behind in the building.

What was most interesting and surprisingly… frightening (I’m a little embarrassed to admit) that’s on view at the moment is the exhibit on the first floor by Jim Shaw. He created a literal Wig Museum that displays different types of wigs, but upon more research after the visit, I believe that the rest of the exhibit is a part of the Wig Museum as well. There are larger-than-life depictions of religious symbols and cartoon characters plastered onto fabrics and walls for visitors to walk through. We couldn’t find much explanation for the pieces, probably because we didn’t realize that everything came together as one coherent piece, so we were compelled to interpret things on our own terms. Fascinated by a vacuum that seems to come out of George Washington that hung from the (very tall) ceiling (as seen in the first picture in this awesome article here), I kept backing up with my eyes transfixed on the vacuum until I suddenly realized that I was standing right in the hall of International House of Pain (IHOP, hah), next to the most vivid painting of hell featuring GIANT snakes. Snakes are my biggest fear so I freaked out, a lot.

We worked our way upstairs where the exhibit was much more typical of a contemporary art museum. But after being a little scared and stimulated by the exhibit on the first floor, I felt like I interpreted everything with a slight eerie undertone. All in all, I would totally recommend checking out the museum out. It offered a much different experience that I anticipated. Oh and parking’s free too so no excuses!