Museums, formed from the heart

A moment frozen in time at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, June 2014

A moment frozen in time at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, June 2014

“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:

Stand quietly before them

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Judy

    Beautifully expressed. That photo draws me into the quiet coolness of that space even though I’ve never been there. Art museums are magnificent gifts to the world.

    I always read your blog soon after I get up in the morning. What a calming entry you gave me to begin my day!

    • Judy, you and Stew should come visit sometime and we can go to that museum. Not only is it stunningly beautiful, but it has my personal favorite café anywhere, ever, along with a fabulous museum shop too. If it was easier to get there, I would go every day. Thanks for your kind words about the blog. I so enjoy your presence here.

  2. Good morning, Julia! Today we are near the Ringling Art museum in Sarasota. We’ve looked into getting transport for my dad in his wheelchair, and it’s pretty pricey. Since he has been sleeping so much lately, I question this as a financially sound option.
    There is a much less expensive shuttle service around Bradenton, and the museum is not too far within Sarasota, so maybe I can find a two-step method combining the shuttle and then transport just inside Sarasota. Hmmm….

    • Susan, I believe the ADA mandates that all municipalities have some sort of accessible transportation available. You would need to call the local disability services office or agency to find out more. Also, I think the museum likewise has to offer chairs or mobile carts for those who need them. Their website might give details.

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