Art and Crafts · Travel

Giving Museums A Chance

What if you went to a museum and the exhibits were dusty, turning color and rusting? What if the displays never changed? What if captions barely told you anything about the piece of art? Would you ever go back?

Growing up I rarely went to museums.  Despite museums, having some beautiful works of art, the museums that I grew up around were in dire need of curators and financial assistance. The maintenance of the art pieces, the general upkeep and cleanliness of the galleries and disinterested staff made museum outings, uninspiring and disheartening. When I travelled my parents took me to see some beautiful museums, but had a (self created) pressure of sorts, to see everything the museum had to offer, making the admission worthwhile. A gnawing need to see everything grew in me that I needed to see museums in one visits. See everything cause it was a once in a life thing.

Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy museums. Not going to museums became a habit. It fell in the category of painful, uninteresting and over whelming.

Even once, I moved from India to New York my habit stuck with me.

On a day when I have nothing to do, a visit to a museum was last on my list of things that could be enjoyed. I visited a museum every now and then, but did not do justice to the museums of this wonderful city. Unfortunately, I also chose to visit them on days when the management made it free so everyone could enjoy a visit ( Eg. MOMA’s free Fridays, Museum Mile etc. ). The museums were crowded, busy and did not encourage appreciation of art they housed.

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Painting at MOMA

Having decided to give myself a year of discovering art and creating it, I visited MOMA, the museum of modern art in NYC, more than a few times. Each time I visited there were pieces of art that were different or pieces I saw in different light. On every visit, I was not forcing myself to see it all. I picked a few pieces and explored them, each time. Sometimes I joined in on a half hour long discussion of a single work of art and learned much about the artists, and his/her work. And subsequent visits made me feel connected to that painting, knowing what I had learnt.

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Instructor led discussion at the Whitney.
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Children’s drawing group also at the Whitney Museum Of Art.

With the promise that I was going to keeping going back to one museum over and over again, gave me the opportunity to enjoy just a few pieces, rather than to rush through all the floors of the museum. I made it a point to visit the MOMA with different people and got their views on some works of art. I learnt more, got people’s perspectives and yet again saw the same work of art in a different light.

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Seeing the same painting with different people.
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How many times is too many?

Museums here, not just MOMA, try to have special exhibits, exploration sessions with historians, classes to learn to draw or paint, let alone having fantastic educational children’s programs. I can safely say, that I now, enjoy visiting museums. I am still not at the point where I will say, “I am a museum person.” But definitely at the point where I say, “Give Museums A Chance.”

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Wax sculpture at the Whitney Museum
Robert Rauschenberg among friends, a temporary exhibit at MOMA.

My Take– 

  1. You do not have to pick the most popular museum and the biggest one in order to enjoy good art.
  2. Every museum has a philosophy they choose to follow or a theme they maintain. Pick one you might enjoy and see them through a year.
    (I picked MOMA because I enjoy Modern Art, it’s small enough that I am not overwhelmed, yet big enough to have a variety of exhibits.)
  3. Take a short guided tour, and then do something different outside the museum.
  4. While visiting a museum to truly enjoy it, spend an hour and a half at most, despite having paid for admission.
  5. Before you go, you could look up (in a book or online) what the museum has to offer so on your visit, you get to see all the works you want.
  6. To really enjoy art/the museum experience, going on free days may not be the best option.


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3 thoughts on “Giving Museums A Chance

  1. I haven’t been to MoMA in a long time, so I enjoyed your pictures. I think that, fortunately, many museums are making an effort to be more interactive. One of my favorite museums in New York is the Museum of the Moving Image. Great if you are interested in any aspect of film or TV — their interactive section is fun and really informative.

    1. Aww Lauren! It makes me so happy that you enjoyed reading the post.
      I am learning how to see museums and it seems a lot of fun.
      I’ve never been to the Museum of the Moving Image. Will definitely check it out.

      I did enjoy your piece on things to do in your backyard:)
      I can’t wait to get back to Asbury. Usually head to the ocean; this time may check out the museum you suggested. ??

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