I spent five hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art today. Wow. I didn't even get to see everything I wanted to see, so I need to pop back in tomorrow for a bit. I've never been able to see a great deal of what's in there because I never get to go alone and see it all at my own pace. I've been there many, many times, but always with other people, most whom don't want to spend an hour in the arms and armor section. Clearly these people do not know what is good for them.
The day started in true Krysta style. I had a bag of plantain chips in my bag as a snack for later, and a glass Snapple bottle that I use for water. The security guards at the front doors told me that I would have to finish my food outside and I could not bring glass into the museum. Not even if I planned to dump my bag into the bag check. I didn't want to eat my food then, or throw away my water bottle, so I put the food in the front pocket, which no one ever checks (a good thing, considering I usually have my knife in there), and then tried my luck with another security guard. Some people are just hard asses, and I was not about to throw away my food just because one security guard told me to. I picked one that was right in front of the bag check and he let me in without any problems, but told me to check my bag. Logic? What?
In my five hours there I began to have a dilemma. First of all, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to keep works of art all crammed together in a museum. Its hard to appreciate each work as unique when it's right next to another amazing and equally distracting piece of art. I also don't think it reaches as many people of different backgrounds as it should. How many blue collar New Yorkers ever go to the Met? Does a political painting mean the same thing when taken out of its home country? I think maybe part of seeing the work is seeing the place it was painted in and for. Art in context, what a crazy idea!
Don't get me wrong, I love being able to see so many of my favorite pieces of art in one place. I just wonder if the work would have a different affect on me if i was to see it elsewhere. I love seeing Calder and Koons sculptures as I walk around the city. They were made to be put there, so it works somehow. It's an amazing thing to turn a corner and discover a work of art you did not know was there. I think art has changed since museums became such a big deal. I wonder if pop art would have been the same without museums.
My other major issue with museums is the display of burial art. I am quite certain that the people in ancient cultures who spent their lives preparing for death never wanted their urn, sarcophagus, mummy, commissioned art whatever on display in a New York museum. I'm not really comfortable with the idea of someone's remains being made into art without their permission. I struggle with this though, because I understand the need for preservation. If everything was kept buried, some ass would eventually dig it up and exploit it in some way. I also think it's creepy how much value people put into a dead body. The idea that Alexander the Great may have actually had his body entombed in honey to preserve it, is just crazy to me. Nevertheless, I think it is important to honor the wishes of the dead, and I don't think the art world is super concerned with that.
All of the above being said, I had a wonderful and dizzying day of art. I got kicked out of the museum for closing right as I was walking into the Goya room. Curses! Save the best for last, and end up staying past closing time. Goya, I would go to Spain for you, so I guess I can just come back tomorrow. Save Spain for another day. Not sure I'd be able to hitchhike over the ocean anyway.