On Art Museums.

Over these past two days, I visited the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art. Both are housed in impressive older buildings with hardwood floors and magnificently high ceilings. Being alone at an art gallery seems the best way to experience it; I could take the time to look at each portrait individually without feeling rushed or anxious at a silence.

It also gave me time to think:

– I’m not much for art museums. Are you surprised? If you know me very well, I doubt you are. But I thought I could be an art person – given the time, solitude, and impressive setting. I enjoyed my time at both galleries, but I certainly didn’t feel ‘refreshed and inspired’ as you often here people say. I felt tired (I think big areas affect me). I also feel anxious and curious to know if I’m behaving appropriately. Did I look at every painting in this room? Did I spend enough time admiring the Monet? The Picasso?


– There’s a lot of walking that must be done in a museum and I don’t mind it. I refuse to be that person who sits down on the gallery couches with a loud, exhausted sigh as if you are Atlas and have just set down the weight of the world. Believe me, there were plenty of these audible sighs.

Speaking of … Visitors with loud shoes/boots/high heels – or really just an obnoxious stomp – should not be allowed into museums.


– I vastly prefer portraits to landscapes. Vastly. The eyes? The emotion? The backdrop? The story behind the painting is all much more interesting than the beautiful field with cattle.


– Byzantine Art is not a favorite among gallery goers. These displays were my favorites (maybe because they were the most quiet? The least overwhelming? Or, maybe it’s the Christian themes?). I love the gold paint and magnification of Christ.

– Madonnas always look bored … which I find annoying. Who decided that Mary was complacent with her child, The Christ? Why this blank, humbled, placated face?


– I’m thankful we lack photographs from Jesus’ earthly life. The painted and scuplted interpretations of these moments in art are so lovely, so imaginative. Each one presents the artist’s individual take, rendered just-so to depict how devastating, how miraculous, how *insert adjective* each story must have been.

– Those security guards! I used to think they had such a romantic job: watching over The Sacred Works of Art. But nearly every guard I saw was pacing restlessly, leaning against a wall, stretching their calves. Now I pity them. What a horrible job to stand in the same room for 7-8 hours with no one to talk to you.


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