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A big museum in a small city

8 Nov 2012 9:35 AM
A big museum in a small city

For many years, art lovers who wanted to view some of the world's most famous paintings, sculptures and other artifacts had to trek to large cities to do so. The vast majority of the world's great museums were concentrated in a handful of historic cities like Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. Later, Americans were thrilled when a few major cities like New York and Los Angeles got their own art-centered institutions. However, this still made it difficult for residents of smaller cities to get their fill of world-class art.

The second half of the 20th century, however, witnessed a vast expansion of cities boasting their own top-notch museums. Since then, many cities across the country have built and filled their own venues, which has helped spread fine-art appreciation throughout the U.S.

Although most of these new museums could not hope to match the splendor of the institutions in larger cities, a lucky few cities now boast establishments that can rival even the most longstanding and heavily funded museums. One of those cities is Pasadena, where the Norton Simon Museum has grown into one of the country's most cherished art museums.

Many owners of Pasadena real estate consider themselves incredibly lucky to live in such close proximity to one of the American art scene's true gems. The institution's collection spans the entire globe and includes legendary pieces from many cultures. Classic European paintings mingle with Asian sculptures and modern American creations.

Few cities on the scale of Pasadena can boast a museum that houses works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Diego Rivera and hundreds of other world-renowned artists. Despite its relatively small size, Pasadena is home to many art enthusiasts, and the Norton Simon Museum gives them a collection worthy of their devotion and knowledge.

The institution offers much more than legendary pieces, though. Due to the large and vocal population of art appreciators, the museum also hosts an abundance of events, lectures and concerts. On Saturday, November 17, for example, Mary Louise Hart, the Associate Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, presented a lecture about the history of the still life in ancient paintings.

Hart's lecture is just another example of the museum's devotion to art appreciation and education. Few large metropolises have a museum as extensive and active as the Norton Simon Museum.