Very few museums, even those with massive budgets and even bigger reputations, can compare with the San Antonio Museum of Art. When I went to visit, I was absolutely blown away by the curator's vision. As you move through the museum and change artistic periods, you can actually feel the change in the room, see the changes in lighting and color. I swear that even the temperature changed as I moved from one era and geographic location to the next.
One of the first extraordinary items is the ceiling made with the glass art of Chihuly. The art was on display at the museum and one very generous donor bought the entire collection and donated it to SAMA. After months of finding the perfect way to display it, the collection is overhead as you enter one wing of the museum.
SAMA has an impressive collection of American, Ancient, Asian, decorative, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary, Near Eastern and Islamic, and Oceanic art.
It seemed perfectly natural to move from the statue of Athena gracing the Ancient art room to the Nelson A Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art section that made me feel as if I stood in a chapel somewhere in central Mexico. One of my favorite collections was the Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian Art wing that holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of Asian art in the southern US. It was fascinating to move from the heavy gilded items of one dynasty to the fragile hand-painted porcelain of another era.
Oh, but then there was the collection of Roman coins, the ancient glass collection from Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic cultures, the intricately fashioned gold diadems and wreaths from ancient Greece…It would be difficult to pick a favorite in this museum.
Kudos to the curator, David S. Rubin, who has turned this phenomenal collection into a story of civilization. The San Antonio Museum of Art is located at 200 W Jones Avenue and the hours of operation are 10 am to 9 pm Tuesday, 10 am to 5 pm Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 6 pm on Sunday. The museum is open and free to the public every Tuesday evening from 4 to 9 pm.