Lost Among Europeans

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On museums

This weekend I went to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) to see their exhibition of Edward Hopper. I don’t usually go to museums, but I like Hopper, and I thought I would give the SAM a fair shot. Fortunately, it was a small exhibition, and I was done quickly. I wandered around, and found some beautiful pieces. All in all, I was out in under 45 minutes, which, if you ask me, is the right amount of time for museums. Any longer, and my knees start to hurt. Museums are cruel, as are churches. I can walk five hours with a heavy backpack, I can run for an hour and a half, I can play two full games of basketball back to back, but I cannot stand still, or amble around a room at snail’s pace, for more than 40 minutes.

Aside from the physical discomfort, I view museums as a wasted space. When in museums, the art gets so banal for me, that I start admiring the architecture, the high ceilings, the well-kept parquet, the pastel colored walls. I imagine having a billiards table there, or a basketball court, or an astronomical observatory, or a ballroom. So many possibilities, and they get wasted in favor of having people shuffling around, trying to sound knowledgeable.

Not that I’m anti-art, far from it. I just prefer to experience it in a book, curled up in a comfortable sofa. I suppose I am a philistine.