By Jody Callahan from Commercial Appeal
Hardly a parking spot could be found around the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art on Sunday afternoon as Memphians scurried to see the blockbuster Impressionism exhibit on its last day there.
A similar scene was repeated a little farther east, as the Dixon Gallery and Gardens closed its own Impressionism show.
Combined, the two exhibitions -- billed together as "A Very Impressionistic Summer" -- attracted thousands of visitors during their run, officials said Sunday.
About 25,000 people toured the Dixon during the run of "Jean-Louis Forain: La Comedie Parisienne," an exhibition of 125 paintings, pastels, prints and decorative objects from the renowned French artist.
Brooks officials said they did not have an estimate on how many people toured "Monet to Cezanne/Cassett to Sargent: The Impressionist Revolution," but director Cameron Kitchin called it one of the museum's top three shows ever. The exhibition included works from both the Brooks and Dixon as well as several pieces from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
Ruth Johnson was one of those rushing to both museums Sunday to see the exhibitions on their final day. She was particularly impressed with the number of pieces in the Brooks show that have a permanent home in Memphis.
"I was surprised at the number of pieces that actually belonged in our museums, either the Brooks or the Dixon," said Johnson, who planned to head to the Dixon after she finished at the Brooks. "Memphis doesn't have a reputation as an arts community, and it's nice to see that we have so many here."
Julie Falvey, a docent at the Brooks, gave her husband, Davis, a personal and in-depth tour of the exhibit.
"I like it because it's comprehensive," she said. "It includes pieces not only from the Brooks but other museums as well. It's organized chronologically so you can see the progress of Impressionism."
At the Dixon, more than 600 people saw the show on Saturday alone, more than doubling normal attendance for that day.
"The show's been an enormous success for us, on just about every level," museum director Kevin Sharp said. "Attendance numbers have exceeded any show we've done in our history. ... This was not only the most successful exhibition we've ever taken on, it was the most ambitious and technical show we've ever done."