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What To See In An Hour

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DETAILED ABOVE: Pierre Auguste Renoir, The Daughters of Durand-Ruel, oil on canvas, 1882. Click the detail to see the full image enlarged.

The beauty of free admission every day is that you don't have to see everything in one visit. With that in mind, we surveyed our Gallery Hosts (the helpful people wearing pale blue) for tips on how to maximize even the most brief of visits. Here's how they answered a simple question: "I've only got an hour. What should I see?"

A Quick Guide
to 30,000 Objects
and 5,000 years

We offer this page for two reasons.

First, it's perfectly normal to stop in for another reason, such as lunch at Wisteria, our sparkling new cafe, or a quick gift pickup at the Museum Shop, and only have time for a quick glance-around.

Second, free admission means you don't have fork over $25 and walk until your feet hurt to feel like you've gotten your money's worth.

There's no right amount of time to spend. It's all between you and the art, so come visit! You can see a lot in a little.

If you are here with children, start in our first-floor Ancient Worlds area. The youngsters will be familiar with Egyptian mummies and ancient Greece and Rome from school, and little kids find all the faces in the Meso-American galleries quite appealing. There's also a create-your-own art station for kids right down the hall from these first-floor galleries.

Our survey of Gallery Hosts also found recommendations for the Nick Cave Soundsuit, since it includes dozens of toys, and John Miller's glass-art cheeseburger and fries, both of which are upstairs in the Modern and Contemporary Art section.

Even if you're not here with children, half the Gallery Hosts still said to start in Ancient Worlds. Of particular interest here are two statues from the collection of Vincenzo Giustiniani, and the story of their restoration is detailed on our YouTube channel.

An overwhelming favorite in terms of what to see in an hour was our glass art collection, and not just the newly refurbished first-floor wing.

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Said one Gallery Host: "Our glass collection is one of the three best in the country. Our Tiffany collection is one of the two best."

Luke Jerram's Chrysler Chandelier, which dazzles in the spiral staircase linking the modern and the children galleries, was a popular suggestion, as was the Baccarat candelabrum in Gallery 216.

In terms of current exhibitions, By Popular Demand was recommended for its variety and quality. Works in that show were selected by the general public in online voting.

In terms of specific quotes from our survey, Gallery Hosts suggested:

  • Visiting Gallery 211, "the one with the Thomas Cole and the neoclassical sculptures."
  • Gallery 212. "With The Old Mill by Cropsey, and the works by Bierstadt, you have two of the finest landscape painters in American history."
  • "Glass, By Popular Demand, Ancient Worlds, and the sarcophagus. It's all on the first floor and easily accessible, and you have faces, sculptures, paintings—a little bit of everything in one area."
  • "I'm a Francophile, so the candelabrum upstairs, the Impressionists, and the Art Nouveau furniture. I'm a second-floor kind of girl."
  • "I'd tell them the Impressionists upstairs and the Baroque painters on the other side of the upstairs." The Baroque galleries includes works by Rubens and Van Dyck.
  • "If somebody asked me what to see in an hour, I'd ask them what kind of art they like. A lot of people find modern art difficult, so I don't recommend it first. People who like it, love it, but I hear people saying 'Why is that here?' or 'I could do that.' The Pop Art is pretty accessible, but with the other stuff you hear people say they don't get it."

When asked to suggest one specific work:

  • "The Gauguin would be my No. 1, but it wouldn't be most people's No. 1"
  • "It would have to be The Lunatic or The Neophyte."
  • "The Boncoris are a real detective story, kept apart for so long. They are a good versus evil story, and a good story about conservation."

Shown below is the first batch of other staff favorites. For a curators' view of our most significant works, see our Collection Highlights section. And be sure to enjoy your visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art.