Nashville’s Artistic Highlight: The Frist Art Museum

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This town is full of culture. So full, in fact, that what counts as “high culture” in other cities can get overlooked here. One of my favorite institutions in the city is the magnificent Frist Art Museum, and right now they’ve got an exhibit you won’t want to miss. (You’ve got until May 5, but you might as well go now.)

Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times” is an exhibit made up of the wonderful pieces from the Mellon Collection of French Art. They’re mostly Impressionist works from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but there are also pieces from the Romanticism and Cubism movements. The show is so vast that works by Picasso, Delacroix, Renoir, and Manet are on display but didn’t even earn top billing.

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Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947). The Pont de Grenelle and the Eiffel Tower, ca. 1912.

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Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890). The Wheat Field behind St. Paul’s Hospital, St. Rémy, 1889.

As a designer, I like to think of this as more than just an exhibition of incredible pieces. It’s a window into a particular time in art, and also a peek into what it means to be a collector. These works were acquired and curated by Paul Mellon and Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon, and they remain one of the most thoughtful (and valuable) art collections today. I’ve talked a bit about how to become a collector, and though very few of us will have the means to collect like the Mellons, we can certainly learn a bit about their dedication to the process.

Also in the Frist is the sister exhibit, “A Sporting Vision:The Paul Mellon Collection of British Sporting Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” which features examples from Paul Mellon’s extensive sporting collection. And you know how I feel about sporting art (especially when it contains adorable dogs).

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Benjamin Marshall (British, 1768–1835). Noble, a Hunter Well-Known in Kent, 1810.

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George Stubbs (British, 1724–1806). Black and White Spaniel Following a Scent, 1793.

These exhibits highlight what a cultural asset the Frist is for Nashville. We are so lucky to have such an amazing organization right here, and I never miss an opportunity to support it. Children under 18 are always free so take your children or grandchildren and make a day out of it.

Do you have an overlooked artistic treasure in your town? What other great Nashville institutions do you recommend to friends?


Mary Spalding is a Nashville based interior designer with over 30 years of experience. She has overseen countless home revitalizations, renovations, and restorations. She can be reached with your projects and ideas at mary@spaldingway.com.

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