Cultural Osmosis: Hammer Museum

Is that Fuji behind the great wave off Kanagawa?

Isn’t it telling of our nature that we go to new places only to look for the familiar? On a “free admission to everybody” Thursday, I ventured into the Hammer Museum to look for Kanagawa oki namiura, a Japanese woodblock print (pictured above), from the Grunwald Center Collection. My cosmopolitan, cultured reason for wanting to see this print? I’ve seen Japanese wood-cuts before, and they’re purty.

In any case, I didn’t see the woodcut. The Center is by-appointment only — something specified on their website but escaped my attention — and appointments can only be made by phone — a strange phenomenon for this digital age of ours — and the phone calls are answered by a person (or would’ve been were she at her desk) — really unheard of. This is a mighty effective form of crowd control. Is crowd control/preservation instinct the reason places have “by appointment only” policies? Or, is it some kind of subsidy for the phone company/answering machine manufacturer? Whatever the rationale, I haven’t given up hope of getting my grubby nose somewhere near this piece of cultural heritage — will let you know if I succeed!

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