The Vincent Black Shadow, 1949, on display at the Museum of Modern Art (2006).
For more than a decade now, my husband Marc and I have been producing GREAT MUSEUMS for television. How fortunate we are! It’s hard for me to imagine better work! I have often joked that the experience of producing, scripting, editing these programs has really improved my cocktail conversation. Seriously! Here’s an example of what I mean:
One day in Atlanta I found myself lunching alone at a sushi bar in Little Five Points. I was seated next to a biker who was on his way to some sort of big motorcycle event in Florida. I know absolutely nothing about motorcycles. Nada. Zip. Zero. We were an odd pair. He had the chains, the black leather, the tattoos. I was the one with the reading glasses and the laptop computer. He began talking excitedly about bikes. I didn’t want to seem rude or ridiculous, so I listened attentively, and made appropriate responsive noises. “Hmmm.” “Uh huh.” “Oh really.”
He was talking about the need for speed when suddenly I blurted out, “Oh that reminds me of the story of the Vincent Black Shadow. Up until the Black Shadow, motorcycles were just bicycles that had been motorized. With the Vincent Black Shadow in the late 1940s, the mechanics got rid of every superfluous element, including the frame. From that point forward, motorcycles no longer had anything to do with bicycles. They became highly refined machines for speed!” Of course he knew all about the classic Black Shadow, as did the sushi server. The only reason I knew about the Black Shadow was from working on GREAT MUSEUMS: In Our Time: The Museum of Modern Art. I was basically quoting verbatim interview material from Glenn Lowry, Director of the MoMA, and Terrence Riley, who was the curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA.
When producing a GREAT MUSEUMS documentary, my editor and I spend hour upon hour, day after day, working with the interview tapes and selecting the material for the show. Every episode of GREAT MUSEUMS is jam-packed with moments of brilliance shared by the dedicated experts who are featured in the programs. At the end of working on an episode, the museum experts are in my head and sometimes I don’t even know it until a near direct quote just jumps out! Because each of these moments is a stand alone gem in its own right, we decided to use GreatMuseums.org to present GREAT MUSEUM MOMENTS to you one at a time.
GreatMuseums.org now features a multitude of MUSEUM MOMENTS, little tidbits of great stuff chosen from our films. You can access these via the MUSEUM MOMENTS feature window on our home page or through the EXPLORE function. The drop down menu allows you to sort or view by MUSEUM MOMENTS only.
—Chesney Blankenstein Doyle, Executive Producer