Museum Hopping

13 Aug

Yesterday I wanted to go to some museums I haven’t visited in months, or years. (Or ever). I wanted to go here.

Except I forgot that the Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays, breaking from the rule of no museum Mondays.

I waffled indecisively in front of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

I missed the exhibit I wanted to see at the Jewish Museum.

Eventually I just walked down to that my safe bet, the Met. I never know where I’ll end up there, I tend to wander through the same hallways. I go up the main staircase, usually making a left turn into prints and drawings. Then I’ll just segue from there, making arbitrary turns.  Once in awhile I’ll end up underneath the Medieval gateway, which I’ll use as my marker. Yesterday in particular I tried to avoid the throngs of people.

While wandering through the museum, I started a train of thought inspired by one of the photographs on display in “Between Here and There: Passages in Contemporary Photography”.  The photograph was by Thomas Struth.

Thomas Struth. National Museum of Art, 1999.

The museum’s placard discussed how Thomas Struth focused on the secular religion of art, as well as the “appreciation of difference and cultural specificity.” This photograph, of an art loan between France and Japan, shows us how the Japanese chose to display Liberty Leading the People and how it is viewed. All the information presented to me, through both the placard and image, led me to thinking about this concept of art as a secular religion. I think it’s completely valid.

Even the Met’s architecture lent itself to this train of thought. All I could think of, as I looked at these arches where the churches I’d visited in Florence. Even the niche filled with flowers reminded me of the small niches for religious statues and offerings you would find randomly in a wall.

NYC. Florence.

And then I found myself in a wing where I had never been before, the Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for the Arts of South and Southeast Asia. I discovered about the religious transformation of the region, as Buddhism spread from India to China.

I spent some time wandering the museum in reverential silence, thinking about the cultural significance of so many things.

Which led me to search out another cultural element. Food.

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