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Am I a Barbarian, Or Are Museums Pretentious?

Do you like going to museums?  I don’t think I do.  I like the idea of museums as a place to gather while exposed to creativity.  I enjoy art.  I appreciate appreciating things.  But museums are so quiet and sterile.  They kind of take the life out of the art. You are expected to be a poised and unmoved observer as you examine and judge what someone has poured their soul into.  It is a weird context.  Oh, here is a bunch of shit- look at it all at the same time, value it, understand it, be cultured and sophisticated about it… but do so in a soft whisper.  I had to find out the hard way it is frowned upon to say “fuck that cool” loud enough for anyone to hear.

If you go to museum with someone, you are expected to have some complex academic answer for why you like what you like.  Forget that fact that art is totally subjective and maybe you just like Picasso because you are into the color blue.  If I were to say, “I like this because it is pretty” or “I don’t like that because it is ugly” I would not be valued as a good museum partner.

But maybe I am coming at this wrong?  Perhaps I am slightly traumatized from my childhood experiences with museums.  That being that every birthday from 4 to 12 my parents forced me to go to one.  I personally don’t know many 7-year olds who voluntarily want to spend their birthday at the museum rather than eating cake while watching a demented clown make balloon animals, but I guess my parents did.  I remember walking around for hours and wondering how long I had to stand there for people to think I did a good job of looking at the painting.

So when The Munch and I went to Boston for the day, my mom and dad decided they wanted to spend some time with her…. And take her to the Museum of Fine Arts.

Toni: “Mom, are you sure that is where you want to bring her? You don’t want to go to the aquarium or park or something?”

My Mom: “Oh don’t be ridiculous Toni.  You loved going to the museum as a kid.”

I feel you Munch


6 Responses to Am I a Barbarian, Or Are Museums Pretentious?

  1. wanderlustzoe says:

    This is just so wonderful. The freedom in being a child. By the way, is it me or is your mom just FUCKING HILARIOUS???!?!?! CANT WAIT TO SEE YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACES IN LESS THAN A MONTH! W00T!

    Museums are pretentious if your are being pretentious … but if you walk into a museum with a pair of jeans and a comfy hood and hand-made journal ready to soak up the wonder seeping through every crack and every wall… it’s a such a wonderful, lively, lovely experience.

  2. wanderlustzoe says:

    btw, I love love LOVVVVEEEEEE LOVE adelias photo with khaleh holly and professor nagy.

  3. wanderlustzoe says:

    Also the stillness in museum allows for historical pieces to voice their stories. Or maybe I have a way to romanticize everything? Idk, to me going to a museum is a very intimate and almost spiritual experience, it gives me the opportunity to see the world beyond the spatial and temporal confines of my reality.

  4. olga davidson says:

    I love museums and always have. I would never have studies Arabic and Persian if I hadn’t spent hours looking at Orientalist art at the Louvre and at the Persian miniatures at the Met. Also, half of my romantic notions of Paris are based on de Chirico paintings that I first was in a book ,then at the National Gallery in DC. You went to museums on your birthday because we were always in a different city on your birthday and you were allowed to run free and look at whatever you liked. Adelia liked the statues at the MFA and played hide and seek and she also really liked the hieroglyphs but her great great great grandfather’s paintings did not impress her even though the baby looked like her. But she did a great deal of jumping to honor them and then announced that she was going to do shavasana.

  5. Jim-Tom says:

    I tend to agree with you. But I understand the rebuttals in the comments as well. I’d always been restless and uneasy in museums. Maybe it was because of my bad eye sight, I didn’t think I was ‘seeing’ what everyone else was seeing. But whenever I did feel feelings toward a particular piece or exhibit, it made it worth doing again.

    Haha I also think it’s well worth mentioning that the photo is in itself very artistic. The expression of it all is hilarious and priceless. The painting of the child, and the real child struck me.

  6. Erik Crates Johnson says:

    superficial understandings of class aside, museums are best served drunk

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