Met Musings

Metropolitan Museum Musings   

As a college freshman, I enrolled in Art History- a specialty at Vassar. Sitting in a darkened auditorium, looking at slide upon slide of sculptures, paintings  and drawings, and listening to professors who had devoted their lives to a particular artist or period, awed me.

During school breaks,  I’d take a train in from Connecticut copy down names of sculptures and paintings I saw on slides or that were in my huge textbook, and trot around the museum trying to find them. I’d spend an entire day there, believing I had to see “everything.” I bought a postcard or two and felt fulfilled; I’d “done” the Met.  I’d sometimes meet college friends or go there on a date, but usually went alone.

When our children were young, we had two destinations inside its cavernous halls: the Arms & Armor and the Egyptian mummies, and if we could keep their attention, one more exhibit.   Now I try to get to the major exhibits and usually meet a high school friend there once a year; we roam from room to room, talking, not really looking at art.

Two current exhibits merit attention.

Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century

(until  July 4, 2011)   

The views from  open windows as painted by European and Russian artists between 1810-20 got my teacher brain going.  I devised an assignment: Look out a window, take a  photograph, paint or draw what you see, and write a sentence about the image. I’m no longer in the classroom, but thought this would be a fun way to interact on the blog. I can’t figure out how to attach images to comments, but perhaps readers you can just use words!  (and if anyone can assist technically-great!)

My parents live in Connecticut. Their house, where I grew up, is a stone ranch on about three acres.  Here’s the view from the kitchen dining area:  

Why would anyone want so much grass to mow? The lawn service consisted of my father, my siblings and me, driving a tractor.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty  

For something totally different,  see the Alexander McQueen costume exhibit.  Don’t expect renditions of Kate Middleton’s gracious,  lacey wedding gown.  More theater than function,  I felt I was walking through a haunted  house, uncertain what would appear around the corner.  Unique and popular; expect to wait in line. It’s on until July 31.

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4 Responses to Met Musings

  1. Sharon Gill says:

    Ah, yes … with a degree in art history, I get it. But much prefer taking in the museums in “little bites” now – savoring the little gems I studied at Wellesley, crying over “The Last Supper” when I saw it in person, being totally surprised that Georgia O’Keefe’s pieces were so small in size, losing myself in a Serra ….


  2. lisa Lai Ye says:

    Lisa, I have a heart for architetual buildings — the musuem building posted is just so charming !! I have once encouraged Kevin to go to architetuall fields with photography as minor … your post reminded me of all those happy hours I had walking through museums after museums and galleris after galleries when I was working for Hefner Galleries in New York 20 years ago… great memories !!
    keep writing …


  3. G~d willing I’ll get to the assignment soon, but this reminds me of some key spiritual insights.

    Dr. Hawkins talks about becoming aware of the Witness, the part of our experience that just observes what’s going on, no matter what it is. It’s not the one that reacts emotionally, it just notices the emotions. It’s not the Thinker, it just notices the thoughts. Anyway, a suggested exercise for becoming more aware of the Witness, is to look out a car window as a passenger, and focus not on what you’re seeing, but on the frame of the window and the stream of images flying past. By focusing on the space of watching, instead of the particular content, we get a taste of focusing on the Witness of our experience, instead of the experience itself. This can be helpful because when we detach a little from the emotions and thoughts of our everyday lives, it can give us a different, often calmer and wiser perspective. This technique can also be very effective for pain relief: to simply notice and observe the physical sensations and let them flow by, rather than fixating on them and getting caught up in our mental and emotional stories…


    • Great comment. Don’t worry about the assignment. I can see how you can use this technique as a therapist. I was saying to someone the other day that all education should be art and drama and then build in everything else around it.


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