Touring the Met with Museum Hack

A few Saturdays ago, I took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for something a little different than my usual wander-and-ponder. I was invited to take a VIP tour by Museum Hack, a company that operates tours at major museums in several American cities and prides itself on offering non-traditional, subversive, and even snarky looks at the art and the institutions. Brett and I decided to take part in a Saturday evening adventure, and we both came away with a few new thoughts about a museum we’ve been to many times before.

 

 

Metropolitan Museum

 

 

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Why I Don’t Wear Makeup

My round of trips recently got me to thinking about why I don’t wear makeup. As in, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve put anything other than chapstick on my face in the last year on one hand. When I went to pack my suitcase for England, it didn’t even occur to me to put any makeup in until a friend floated that I might want some in the event I went out to really nice restaurants in London. So I threw in a mascara (still in the packaging), some powder, and lip gloss. Everything came back unused because I was happy with my Burt’s Bees chapstick. Crazy, right?

 

Hiking in the Lake District with my friend Elli

Hiking in the Lake District with my friend Elli

 

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Five Things I’m Loving This Friday

Today I woke up feeling a little jumbled. It’s Friday and I have no class to attend or internship hours to fulfill, but I do have a national ethics exam for law students to take tomorrow morning at 8am! It’s sort of strange feeling like I have a jump-start to the weekend when I have to take a test on Saturday, but I decided to follow my usual rules for the day before a big test, which means taking it easy and not thinking about it too much. At this point, there’s not much I can do – if I don’t know something already, I’m not going to learn it by tomorrow, so it’s best to relax and refocus. To take my mind off of it, I decided to share a few things I’m loving this week with all of you, and think about them instead!

 

Cloudsurfers

Cloudsurfers

 

1. My Cloudsurfer sneakers. I’ve been wearing these since August now, and they’re better than any running shoe I’ve tried before. I’ve worn them on my weekly long runs and to race the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and NYC Half Marathon. I think I’ve logged 400 miles on my first pair, and 100 miles on the second pair (which I bought at the Expo in Disney, and broke in after that weekend). So far, they’ve held up very well, and with my tendency to aggravate old knee and hip injuries, they offer a nice flexible cushion without being too clunky.

 

 

 

 

A delicious base for a brunch dish

A delicious base for a brunch dish

 

2. Garden Lites Spinach Souffle. I’ve been a fan of these gluten-free, nut-free veggie souffles for awhile now. They’re a little expensive for the size of the dish (most are 7-8 ounces and they retail for $3.79-$4.79 in the grocery stores closest to me) so I can’t eat them too often, but I love trying out new ways to use them in meals.

 

 

 

Brunch bowl with a spinach souffle base

Brunch bowl with a spinach souffle base

 

 

I just made myself a hearty brunch bowl with a spinach souffle, two scrambled eggs, frozen veggies, Al Fresco spinach and garlic chicken sausage, and goat cheese. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy to behold this beauty

Happy to behold this beauty

 

3. The return of one of my favorite paintings, The Lighthouse at Two Lights, to the walls of the Modern wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Edward Hopper is one of my favorite artists, and of all his works the studies he did of the New England coast capture my mind and heart the most. This painting was in storage for awhile (I wandered into the Met the birthday before my last one to catch a glimpse and it was no longer there, which took a lot of birthday ice cream to make up for!) but it’s being displayed once again, at least until the Met moves the modern art to its new home in the old Whitney building. I dropped by this week after school!

 

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Marveling at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is majestic. It is one of the most famous and foot-trafficked museums in the world, and it commands a position of respect among art connoisseurs, scholars, visitors from around the globe, and the New Yorkers who pop in every day (and who might just be the hardest to please of all those!) The Met is a place that can be many different things to each individual who strides up its steps, dashes through its doors, and lingers in its halls. Some come because it is an encyclopedic collection of art history, and they thirst for knowledge. Others come to take in the beauty of the works within. As for me? My Met is a place of reflection.

 

Moonlight, Wood Island Light, Winslow Homer 1894)

Moonlight, Wood Island Light, Winslow Homer (1894)

I’ve always loved art. Several members of my family have more than an amateur interest in art, and my parents made sure that my brother and I would value it by filling our home with objects of visual art. They would take us along to galleries during vacations on Cape Cod and in Maine, and march us through museums in Europe. When I was very young, good behavior on those gallery trips was rewarded with ice cream (in Rome, the tactics were the same, except that the treat was gelato). Somewhere along the way, it was as if a spark ignited in my mind, and instead of being taken to museums and galleries, I was getting to go. It was a privilege.

 

Growing up in the orbit of New York City, the Met was the marquee museum. I cannot say that the Met is my favorite museum of all those I’ve visited, because I cannot say that of any museum. I love the Frick Collection for its intimacy and the fact that my artistic taste aligns so closely with that of its founders and curators. For a historian intrigued by people who collect, the Barnes in Philadelphia is an overflowing fountain. Seeing Starry Night at the Musee d’Orsay or Wivenhoe Park at the National Gallery in London are magical experiences. But what I can say about the Met is that somewhere in its vast environs, there is a place for each individual who passes through to come and reflect. No matter how many eyes have lain on any given work, if you choose to make it your work, your place to come and look and listen, it becomes a part of you, and you a part of it.

 

As I wander the halls of the Met as a young adult, all sorts of memories come to mind of childhood and the first time I saw each work that I love. I walk quietly upstairs and into the galleries of nineteenth-century European paintings, and lose myself in the works by Monet, Sisley, and Cezanne. And I remember that no matter how difficult life has seemed, taking a step back, really looking at a painting, drinking in the details and willing myself to wholly engage in examination – that’s what has brought me clarity and perspective.

 

Alpine Pool, John Singer Sargent (1907)

Alpine Pool, John Singer Sargent (1907)

I’ve said that running outdoors is what allows me to mentally detach, and that is true. But before I started running, art was the only thing that brought me such peace. Now, I am blessed to draw on both sources of comfort. There is nothing quite like being out in the fresh air, the only sounds coming from nature and the pounding of my feet on the trail. But the feeling of stillness that washes over me when I am alone in the Horowitz Galleries in the American Wing, standing before my favorite Winslow Homer or John Singer Sargent, is divine in its own right.

 

 

I am fortunate to have this place to come where I can take stock of my life and reflect on what it has brought me thus far. I am even luckier to be part of the Apollo Circle, a group of young members of the museum treated to special curatorial talks and social events after-hours, because it has brought me not only knowledge but the ability to stand in the Petrie Court and gaze upon the stained glass and lampposts with few other souls around to break the silence. But the Met is open to all who wish to enter, and though nothing can replace the experience of visiting in person, it has become even more accessible online. I only hope that more people gain the opportunity to experience what I have.

 

Ive celebrated three birthdays isince 21 on the Met rooftop and had countless other fun times within its walls

I’ve celebrated three birthdays (each since 21) on the Met rooftop and had countless other fun times within its walls

 

 

To those who think that art is nice, but not really a priority, or think it’s frivolous to cherish and protect when there are so many problems in this world, I would say that art is a part of our human civilization that makes it worth preserving. We are all put on this earth for a reason, and who is to say that the creation of beauty is not that reason? Art is at the pinnacle of what the human race has been able to accomplish, just like technology and math and medicine. Ignore it, and we lose a part of our history and our selves. Embrace and admire it, and we may just find the answers we are looking for.

 

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This is my Thinking out Loud Thursday with Running With Spoons. What do you think about the place of art in our society? Do you have a favorite work of art or museum?

 

 

 

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