The Ultimate Art Museum: 40,000 Years of the World’s Most Amazing Art in One Dream Museum! by Ferren Gipson. Phaidon, 2021. 9781838663780
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? This fabulous exploration of the history of art is written by an art historian who clearly loves sharing how art reflects the lives of people. Gatefold pages welcome readers to the many “galleries” in this imaginary museum. The book is divided into three “wings”: ancient art (prehistoric, Greek, Roman, Egyptian and art from other ancient cultures); art from the 1200’s to the 1800’s; and modern and contemporary art. Along the way, readers learn about history, religions, materials used, and much more. It is striking how Gipson manages to include so many cultures, and that women and people of color are so well represented in the book – why didn’t we learn about all of these artists in school?! Occasional short whimsical sections break up the succession of galleries: “Welcome to the Café” allows the reader to browse a menu of artwork depicting food, and “A Walk in the Garden” shows plants and flowers by different artists through time.
Fun, conversational language is engaging, and always points out something surprising. Color and photography values are great – the artworks jump off the page. I really love how the book not only covers traditional mediums such as painting, sculpture and architecture, but also books, jewelry, masks, quilts, photography, performance art and videos. With a section on famous museums around the world and an exhaustive index, this book is an important resource for the young armchair art historian.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? This is a wonderful book to browse or for understanding a culture or historical period being studied in school.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle school and public libraries. Highly recommended.
Where would you shelve it ? 709
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, it’s a stunning book.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: November 11, 2021