Norton Simon, the Man and His Museum

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–90), The Mulberry Tree, October 1889. Oil on canvas. (Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon)
The multimillionaire eccentric industrialist from California built one of the best collections in the nation.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I’ m still bicoastal these days. Two of my recent stories concerned museums along the Acela corridor that are jumping through the looking glass. There’s so much narcissism and grandiose thinking, and talk about whining! At the Baltimore Museum of Art, the director wants radical change. He wants to make his lovely, distinguished museum anew, “from scratch,” so that it looks and feels more like Baltimore, the most screwed-up city in America, as the murder capital and having a local government we can correctly call unhinged. He’s a big-vision guy.

In New York, the Met’s dreams are more prosaic. Its grubby, grabby

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