Returning to museums whose collections we’re well acquainted with is like visiting old friends in their homes. We arrive with a pretty good idea of what we are going to encounter, eager to spend time with those whose company we are sure we will enjoy, in a familiar context. But just as people we’ve known for years can challenge our expectations, museums we frequent often can also offer invigorating surprises. If we are attentive enough (and a painting or sculpture is good enough), it’s possible to discover things we’ve never noticed before in works of art that we think we know thoroughly. Special exhibitions introduce new voices and new ideas, revealing startling connections or equally startling differences by placing paintings and sculptures well known to us in unprecedented contexts, reuniting long-separated relatives or bringing together virtual strangers. New acquisitions...


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