The View From 32


JULY 26, 2007  

Akron Art Museum

New addition to Akron Art Museum, main entrance.Its dramatic angles burst out from the original brick museum buildling. It's sleek and shiny metal and glass. It gives off the sort of energy that I.M. Pei's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should, but doesn't. My first reaction to the Akron Art Museum's new building by the Viennese architectural firm Coop Himmelb(l)au is to give it a B+.

Inside at Akron Art Museum, looking down corridor toward Sol LeWitt painting

Why not an A? Well, the interior—more concrete, metal and glass—feels cold. The cavernous main lobby felt desolate, although that probably changes when there are more visitors than the small handful that were there this Thursday night.

All those hard surfaces beg for some natural or human touches, but there's little to be found. The geometry needs to be balanced by something. In the view at right, one of my favorites, the dazzling colors of a Sol LeWitt painting provide the contrast, although his painting is as geometric as the building around it.

Maybe this will change as the museum settles into its new's only been open for a week. It's too early to pass judgment. The building brings more style and vitality to an Akron downtown that seems, I'm sad to say, much more lively than downtown Cleveland.

And what's inside, a "best of" showing of contemporary art from the museum's collection, is well worth a trip. There are major pieces from modern masters like Andy Warhol and Chuck Close, and the photography is particularly strong. I'm less thrilled by the cheap plastic chairs placed in the center of most galleries, but I'm guessing that those will soon be replaced by more attractive and comfortable seats.

Akron Art Museum night view

And finally, at night the illuminated metal "cloud" over the building adds another dimension.

Visit on a Thursday night and enjoy the exterior view after you've taken a quiet stroll around the galleries. No crowds to fight with, no feeling of having to move along so others can see.

Afterwards walk across the street to Crave, a chi-chi place with food that combines unlikely ingredients in tasty ways. Since I had sampled potato pancakes at the Ingenuity Festival on Sunday, I couldn't pass up Crave's "Granny Smith Apple & Buckwheat Potato Pancakes w/ Coconut Sour Cream & Curry Mango Applesauce."

The problem with mixtures like this is that they often sound more exotic than they taste. These were good potato pancakes with interesting toppings, but they tasted mostly like, well, potato pancakes. The hint of curry in the applesauce was a nice change of pace, but the mango flavor was hidden. The coconut sour cream, too sweet. Still and all, I'd go back. There are still more tempting items on the menu that I want to try.


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