Monday, March 28, 2016

The Songs of the Fifty States: Missouri revisited

(What is "The Songs of the Fifty States"?)

It's only been four months since I did a "Songs" post on Missouri, but last week I had an opportunity to spend a few days kicking around the state, which I hadn't visited since 1999.  Missouri from the freeway is, alas, pretty awful: glimpses of farmland peeking out from behind huge signs, most of which tell you either that you should purchase a huge sign or that the signowner's beliefs and values are better than yours.  Once off the freeway, it's a mixed bag of pleasant town and rural landscapes and grim town and rural landscapes, depending on local conditions.

The final score for the road trip, incidentally, was: 19 new counties in Missouri, 2 in Illinois, 2 in Arkansas, and 2 in Tennessee.  Also, 4 in Kentucky, which had been the state that I hadn't visited in the longest time; Florida takes over that spot now. 

Thomas Hart Benton, Truman Library Murals, Independence.

Size: 180,533 km2 (21st)

2015 Population: 6,083,672 (18th)

Statehood: 1821 (24th).

American Human Development Index: 4.60 (36th)

Art Mecca: Last November, I wrote about how the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art was the museum where I really became interested in art for the first timeI thought that the Nelson Atkins must be the coolest museum in the world, I said, and I suppose for me, at the time, it was....  I wonder if I'd still love it now that I've seen a lot more museums, or if I'd be all jaded.  So, knowing I would be back in Missouri, I made it a priority to revisit the Nelson-Atkins.

Unfortunately, and replicating a mistake that I made in 1999, I forgot that it's closed on Tuesdays.

Fortunately, I was able to try again and pull off a short visit on Saturday, before my flight home.  

And the answer is, the Nelson-Atkins has a really terrific collection!  It is particularly strong in the Impressionist/Post-Impressionist era, and has some very nice medieval stuff, and I bet that's why I thought for quite a few years that I was mostly interested in the Impressionists and medieval art -- my fine arts tastes were forged in Kansas City. I was surprised that they seem to have no Modern Art collection at all, but eventually figured out the problem: they are deeply confused about what the word "contemporary" means:

Bottom line: If you have the chance, visit the Nelson-Atkins!  It's free, even!  But closed Tuesdays!

Now, in the comments last time Christine M. volunteered that "St. Louis also has a lovely art museum, and it's free, too."  I was a little underwhelmed with the St. Louis show when I visited in 1999, but what the hell did I know?  So, I gave serious thought to remedying the situation this time in order to give you a fair and balanced treatment of the Art Meccas of the Show-Me State.  Unfortunately, the lure of randomly exploring rural backroads was too much for me.

Michael 5000's Missouri: March 2016

First Visited: April 1, 1991 (5th)
Most Recently Visited: March 26, 2016 (2nd)

First Run In: 2.62 miles, Cape Girardeau, March 23, 2016
Best Run: 3.63 miles, Bolivar, March 25, 2016

Have Admired the Visual Arts In: Yes.
Have Geohashed In: No.
Have Slept Overnight In: Yes.

Counties Visited: 75/115 (passes Colorado to take 2nd place)
% Complete: 65.2% (18th, passing New York, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania)

Mrs. 5000's Counties Visited: 22/115 (15th)
% Complete: 19.1% (39th)
Mrs.5000 First Visited: c. 1969 c. 1967 (date suggested by even more recent research)
Mrs.5000 Most Recently Visited: August 1989 (date suggested by recent research)

Atlas of All Roads Traveled

Plans and Aspirations

It will probably be quite a few years before I return to Missouri.

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