Book-lyn Museum: Art book shows of borough’s treasures

Brooklyn Paper
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It’s the Brooklyn Museum in your pocket!

The tiny new book “Treasures of the Brooklyn Museum” showcases more than 250 full-page photos of items in the Museum’s permanent collection. But the man who chose those items and wrote the introduction says that the 4.5-inch square volume is still no substitute for the real thing.

“It’s the teaser to make you go to the Museum,” said Kevin Stayton, who lives in Brooklyn Heights. “Experiencing a piece of art live, in the flesh, is a completely different experience than seeing it in a book.”

Stayton, who worked as a curator at the Brooklyn Museum for 36 years, said that narrowing down the museum’s thousands of artifacts and art for the book required a lot of painful choices.

“You want objects that are the very best of their kind. That’s probably the easiest part of it,” he said. “Then you try to get a balance that reflects the entire collection.”

Getting a representative sample meant cutting out some amazing pieces, said Stayton.

“Sometimes you’ll have four great objects, but they’re all by the same painter, so you don’t want to have four Monet’s,” he said.

But the book has one advantage over actually visiting the Museum, said Stayton — it features works of art that are rarely on display, such as the watercolor “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed By the Sun” by William Blake, which is too delicate to show for long.

“It’s a famous work, a lot of people know it, but it’s almost never on exhibition to keep the colors from fading,” said Stayton.

Stayton hopes the book will appeal to those coming to and from the Brooklyn Museum.

“It’s in part a souvenir that people who come to the museum will use as a provoker of memory,” he said. “And we hope that it will reach people who will then say, ‘I didn’t know they had these great things. I’ll have to go there.’ ”

“Treasures of the Brooklyn Museum” in bookstores everywhere. $12.95.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Posted 12:00 am, March 14, 2017
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