Writing

The Healing Silence of Art Museums

When I set out to write about my admittedly tumultuous feelings towards my dad, I knew it would be emotional.

I didn’t realize how drained I would feel after. That I would understand what people mean when they describe feeling like a towel that’s been wrung out.

It’s because of that, that I didn’t post a single thing last week. Which is fine. My readership at this point is still intimate enough that I don’t feel the pressure to continuously turn out content for the sake of content.

I was kind to myself. I took bubble baths, read books I knew I would enjoy, wrapped up in blankets. Most of all, I rested, and sought out places of healing.

The art museum in my area stands on top of a hill, a short distance from our zoo. During summer, the flurry of activity around the zoo belies what you’ll find in the art museum; enthusiastic children and families forgo the galleries in favor of elephants and sea lions, despite the two being so close to each other.

This is a blessing, because even on its busy days the museum is quiet, cool—thanks to a vigilant AC system—and peaceful.

Patrons to the museum naturally speak in hushed tones, the squeak of shoes on hardwood one of the only sounds. You can, should you wish it, ponder the brushstrokes of Impressionism the same day you observe the carvings of African tribes.

I shy away from the abstract and the modern, but give them a perfunctory walk-through to be polite.

My personal favorites are the Van Goghs, the portraits in buttery oils, the Degas reproduction of his Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, the Greek statues. It’s in these areas, where the gallery rooms are large and open and silent, that I can stand in front of these pieces and feel my heart calm to a steady and mellow song within my chest.

It heals me. The way writing does. The way drawing does.

My life is made up of seeking the things that slow my heart and make it race, all at once.

4 Comments

  • Andy

    I love museums for much the same reasons. I like the kindness and respect people offer each other in their basic acts of leaving each other alone.

  • Damian

    I try to walk through modern art and be polite as well, but modern art is really stupid. There is a paint yellow painting that looks like a giant post it note at the Philadelphia Art Museum. It took great restraint for me to not pick up a sharpie and write a grocery list on it.

    I’m drawn to Impressionism as well. Van Gogh is great. Philly has a lot of Monet that I loved. I also spent a lot of time in the the 1700-1800’s furniture, when a piece of furniture was an art piece and just stood in awe in the period rooms. Of everything, that was my happy place there.

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