Museums, formed from the heart
“In poetically well built museums, formed from the heart’s compulsions, we are consoled not by finding in them old objects that we love, but by losing all sense of Time.”
— Orhan Pamuk
On a recent day while Matt was at camp, Jeff took a day off from work and we went to the National Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian. Since we intended to spend the day, we thought we might be able to work in a quick trip to the Freer and Sackler galleries as well. I had forgotten how magnificently endless the National Gallery feels when one is inside.
Daddy recently sent me an interesting article about the Wyeth exhibit, which I was anxious to see, and there was a special exhibit about Degas and Cassatt, along with a celebration of new acquisitions from the works of Van Gogh. So I knew we would be there awhile, but I had not recalled the enormity of the permanent collection, and the sheer beauty of the building itself.
We did not even make it to the newer East Building of the National Gallery, let alone to the Freer or Sackler. In fact, we could have spent hours more in the main building where we started. Pamuk is right when he says we lose all sense of time at a museum, and that can be a great consolation, especially when the past months have found us frequently engulfed in pain or sorrow.
If you are within driving distance of a good art museum, or plan to be near one during your upcoming travels, you might enjoy making time to visit there for at least a couple of hours. Even if you’re like Jeff and me, and have no particular knowledge of art, you are sure to enjoy the feeling of losing yourself in a place where beauty and universal significance are celebrated.
“Poetically well built” is an excellent description for almost all of the art museums I’ve ever been in, so you might begin feeling rejuvenated even before you glimpse the first painting. As you visit a museum or gallery, I wish you the singular consolation Pamuk describes. In a museum, we are reminded of so much that unites us at heart, despite the differences that separate us.
One year ago today: