Museum Month(s) has revealed Museum Truth(s) to me. As I’ve reviewed museums in NYC, Paris, Berlin, and Florence (Rome will be next, I swear! I’m not procrastinating on that one or anything) I’ve realized there are a few hard and fast truths for me when it comes to museum visiting. So here, when it’s nearly Christmas, and when I’m totally NOT procrastinating about writing about Rome, are my Museum Truth(s):
1. Museums should be NOT crowded:
If a museum is crowded, it doesn’t matter how good the art is (ahem MoMA, Met, Louvre, and Uffizi), it’s not enjoyable. Isn’t the point of going to museums to enjoy them? Especially when you’re on vacation??
2. Museums should have windows and/or natural light and/or open spaces:
Unending jewel-toned rooms that become labyrinthine rabbit-warrens of suffocating painting = no bueno (I’m looking at you again Met). Bonus points if there’s a garden. Bonus bonus points if there’s a garden with a cafe.
3. Must-sees are LAME, or, there are plenty of Michelangelo sculptures that can be visited without crowds and without fuss (ahem Accademia).
There are quite a few Michelangelo sculptures around (Bruges, Paris, Milan, Florence, Florence, Florence, Rome, etc. etc), many of which you can view while enjoying your own company, peace, quiet, and no line. Skip the David, c’mon, I dare you.
4. Issues of cultural appropriation and heritage are sticky, but “borrowed” buildings are way, way fun.
Whether at the Cloisters in NYC or the Pergamon Museum in Berlin (among other places too), putting buildings from far away inside other buildings might raise some ethical questions, but it ALWAYS makes for a fascinating museum experience.
5. As great as art is (and about 97.5% of my reviews have been about art museums), Dinosaurs always win
Bonus #6!: Museums are rad even if they’re poorly designed, crowded, or too full of “must-sees”
I’ve ragged on a lot of museums in my reviews over the last two months, but I want to be clear about something: anytime people visit museums and bring art into their everyday lives, it’s a good thing. Even if it’s a visit to someplace annoying like MoMA, it can ONLY be good for people to look at art that can frustrate, attract, disgust, inspire, or intrigue them. Yes, sometimes museums could do it better (and yes, I am talking about the MoMA, come on, do better guys). But I always vote for more art! More art for everyone!!