Ted’s post not too long ago about taking his book group to the museum reminded me that I’m about to embark on another book group adventure. I am fortunate enough to live in a big enough city where everyone working in or with the arts and humanities knows everyone else.
The world class Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and its talented staff want to do something special for the membership and enhance their museum experience. They’d also like to entice new visitors to their beautiful new addition and classic works of art. To that end, two creative folks in the programming and education department approached me about leading discussion on one of my favorite books from last year, Luncheon of the Boating Party. The discussion will be preceded by a docent led tour of the Museum’s Impressionist collection with particular attention paid, of course, to the Pierre-Auguste Renoir paintings. The docent will discuss Renoir’s life as an artist, the cultural history of Paris, Europe and the United States at the time the painting was rendered and then lead the group back to a small room where we will listen to music of the period, provided by Susan Vreeland!
Ms. Vreeland paid a visit to the Kansas City Public Library in February and it was one of the best author talks I’ve attended in a long time. After her presentation I told her how much I loved her book and how I hoped to use it with a book group at the Museum. Ms. Vreeland was delighted and offered me the CD of the French fin de siecle music she had recorded and played at the various stops on her book tour. I pounced on that offer and can’t wait to share the music with the book group attendees. I will also be showing them the website for the painting’s home, The Phillips Collection.
If this project takes off, my next stop will be the Kansas City Symphony. Maybe I can talk them into discussing Vivaldi’s Virgins.