As the news ricocheted through the emails of Twin Cities art mavens Wednesday, congratulations poured in to the offices of Weisman director Lyndel King who has led the museum for more than 30 years and masterminded the move into its distinctive Frank Gehry-designed building.
"WOW! Fantastic! Yippee! We are thrilled," gushed two long-time supporters.
King responded with typical aplomb, telling supporters, "As my mom said, it's an amazing journey from three rooms in the attic of old Northrop [Auditorium] to being ranked #3 university museum in the nation--and #1 art museum, as the first two are both natural history."
True enough, and the Weisman definitely deserves plaudits for its audacious building and contributions to the U and the Twin Cities. In fact, it deserves a real rating, not the dubious honor bestowed by CollegeRank.net, an online rating system based in Columbus, Ohio, whose website provides no hint of what criteria or research methods were used to arrive at its conclusions.
The 50 museums in its ranking are a hodge podge of natural history, anthropology, art and miscellaneous subjects. Harvard's Museum of Natural History is No. 1, followed by Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural Science at No. 2. Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, ranked No. 5, is a public non-profit with no college or university affiliation. And the U.S. Naval War College Museum, No. 9, merely "displays the legacy of naval warfare in various interesting exhibits."
The Harvard Art Museums complex, which encompasses the legendary Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M. Sackler museums, isn't even listed. That omission is ridiculous considering that the three institutions together have more than 250,000 top notch works of art spanning world history and culture from archaic Chinese jades and bronzes to Chinese and Korean ceramics, Greek vases, Islamic works on paper, European paintings from the Italian Renaissance to the Impressionists and beyond (Titian, Poussin, Canaletto, Degas, Monet, Gauguin, Picasso, Van Gogh, etc.) To say nothing about one of the country's most significant collections of German Expressionism and Bauhaus material.
The dubious CollegeRank.net site abounds with lists of everything from "50 Best College Campus Hospitals" to "25 Must Follow Pinterest Accounts for College Students." Among those Pinterest accounts don't miss No. 20: "Casey the College Celiac," a blog of "personal stories about surviving college with celiac disease and trying to maintain a gluten-free life." No future college student should be without it.