Day 129 Thinking

April 17, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)

Rodin's The Thinker at the Baltimore Museum of Art

A personal tour by a friend at the Baltimore Museum of Art throws a new light on things. Too often, when I go to a museum, I focus on individual pieces of art rather than examining the bigger picture. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, except that seeing the bigger picture often throws more light on individual pieces. 

As tour guide, Scott Burkholder opened many questions and shifted perspectives. What is the role of art museums? Obviously, they collect art and, as custodians, are responsible for conserving their collections. If this is the only role though, they could put all the art into a climate-controlled building. Art museums are called to educate the public and to do this, many heads come together to determine the best way to display art. 

Today we saw the American Wing which has more than 800 paintings, sculptures and decorative art. Instead of displaying each piece in isolation, the American art is shown thematically. For example, one room is filled with textile art. Another is called the Tiffany room. We were told that much thought went into the best way to show the stained glass (from which side) and how to light it. The final decision was use of an LED lighting system. Another room shows fine art, decorative art and furniture all together in a setting typical of an American room.   

Before making decisions about display, art museums must decide on whether they are about looking at things or about telling stories. We do much the same thing in our lives. Do we see each day as independent from the past and the future, or do we look at life as a narrative? I believe art museums play a role in the narrative that connects today with the past and the future.  

My gift today was a narrative.

> Day 130 Hierarchy of Needs

You can find links to my other posts on this project here:

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