Thursday, April 19, 2007


I hate to be so nit-picky. We all make mistakes. Typos are not such a big deal, fundamentally, right?

So why does it bother me so much? Perhaps it's because the location was so splendid, so perfect in its own right. The day was perfect, the way Paris has been lately. Crystal blue skies, embracing sunshine, delirious blossoms. Intoxicating, seductive Paris.

The building's lofty beauty was jaw-dropping. The exhibit masterful. The crowd almost non-existent, which allowed for close-up inspecting of the descriptive signs accompanying the paintings. Said information was very thoughtfully presented in French, Spanish, and English. Sounds perfect, no?

And there it was. At the entrance, the introduction to the exhibit. Just one little letter. In very large font. But really, really annoying.

"...the artist was invited to America by President Taff..."

Oh, come on. TAFF?? Did no one proofread the signage? It's one thing to have mistakes in personal documents -- but in large typeface for public viewing by thousands?

Naturally, once I found the one mistake (and it was consistent in all three languages), I was like a hound on the trail of foxblood. Typos jumped out at me on every bit of signage in the exhibit. "Mary Cassat" instead of "Cassatt". After that I found lots of spelling mistakes, but by then I had lost almost all of my respect for the curator(s) of the show. I was distracted and resentful.

Why bother to make an effort if you won't do it right? I wonder, would any French institution ever consider hiring an American proofreader to read over the copy to avoid the truly laughable obvious mistakes? And thus allow visitors to focus on what's important, like the actual exhibit.

Oh, by the way. It was the Sargent /Sorolla exhibit at the Petit Palais. Delightful. Otherwise, I mean.

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