Sunday, April 8, 2012

Panic in the Museum

Not too long ago, I visited an Art museum in Baltimore. Now, some of you may be thinking that is really cool and some of you are on the opposite spectrum. I found it to be highly stressful and were it not for some good food and the awesomeness of Mrs. Mynd, I might have run screaming from the place.

Let me first say that art isn't bad. I don't dislike art for arts sake. It is the art "experience" that I take issue with.

To begin, I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, home of the world's attic, I mean the Smithsonian, monstrosity of all museumhood. This meant lots of school field trips to the Nations Mall and countless projects where we were herded from room to room.

This was back when the economy was good, terrorism wasn't a threat, and bus rides were cheap.

Our solace was the gift shop and the cafeteria. If we were lucky our parents had given us money to spend on something entirely useless and likely having nothing to do with the museum we visited. We also got to dine on exotic cuisine in the cafeteria or at a minimum take the brown bag lunch with a soda wrapped in tin foil. (for better reception?) This was almost as good as getting to buy the chocolate mousse in the cafeteria. Granted, I was a boy and pretty much anything beat the "school experience" so field trips were good.

Field trips to art museums kind of ruined the experience as an adult. Going into the Smithsonian now seems like a madcap race to see it all at a breakneck pace without any real understanding. What if I just want to stand in front of the Hope fuzzin Diamond all day!?

My next problem with museums is that they are unintentionally boring. There is a lot of stuff that isn't moving.

For those of us with ADHD, we need a little movement. Something that says, "come look at me" without everything saying that because, well, that is just chaos in the brain. If there is music, it is always "pleasant" and "non-intrusive" and for many it causes some unintentional déjà-vu elevator moments. Stop doing that to me.

They should have a "Rock the Art" days where you get some AC/DC, some Bon Jovi, maybe some Nickelback ("Look at this Photograph...") I don't need a "Night at the Museum" experience where the exhibits come to life, really, I don't. Perhaps a captioning contest where you get to think up captions for some bizarre junk, I mean art. I'm sure that is just me being snarky.

The last issue that I take with Museums is the worst one of all. Those of you with linear thought processes might want to grab your favorite blankie, I'll wait...
Got it?

For those of us with linear thinking processes, museum layouts can be very stressful. Why can't they start in one place and give you a path to follow to see all the displays? I don't need rooms that interconnect! I need order! What if I missed something? (Goosefraba, Goosefraba...) We linear thinkers want a checklist of each item to mentally or better still, physically check off the list. There's nothing worse than getting to the "end" and sitting down for a coffee and someone says or asks "did you see the Rodin...breathtaking wasn't it?"
EEK! Did I see that? I was in such a hurry. Was that in a room I didn't see?
What is the museum etiquette on this? Will the artist, inventor, or curator be upset if we don't pause as long in front of their pet project? We could be spending time in front of the wrong thing! I have to think this feeling is akin to something I write that I think is pretty clever only to have my readership largely leave it uncommented upon.


As an aside, if you are ever in Baltimore, the Aquarium is expensive, but worth it. I could set up an office in the room where you watch the Sting Rays from behind the glass. Give me some of the new age music, dim lighting, and majestic underwater butterflies. If they could make the chairs more comfortable and get rid of the smell of feet, I'd be set! Heck give me some wifi and I'm setting up an office.


55 comments:

  1. The museum and art gallery here are free and always turns a good crowd. The good news is that the museum is linear, the art gallery isn't.

    The museum has some very cool exhibits, such as a live bee hive behind glass that opens up to the outside. So you can walk up to it an look into a bee hive without being harassed by bees.

    They also have a cloud chamber set up so that you can watch alpha radiation

    Very cool. All free. All the time.

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  2. It's like you're reading my mind, man.

    Love:  "world's attic". 

    I must say, the Smithsonian could use some neon.  Not quite "display window red district", although that might work, too.  Scantily clad women posing provocatively with the gun that shot Lincoln?  Imagine the possibilities with the incredibly phallic Washington Monument...

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  3. There is some cool stuff to see for sure at the smithsonian, as they include the Air and Space where you can see a stealth fighter and a space shuttle.

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  4. It's what I do :)

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  5. I've been loving going to museums recently.  It is funny how much more interesting so many things become when you get older.

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  6. Yeah, seems like I take the kids now and I want to stop at certain things that they don't like...

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  7. Bill Bryson described the Smithsonian as formerly a wonderland of discovery, but now a drably organized display center.

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  8. That is an apt description...

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  9. Ok I like musems a lot more the writing half a comment then realising the caps are on and have to go back and start again yes I was looking at the telly while typing so didn't realise straight off that the caps where on and no you didn't need to know that but hell this is me and I share this type of dribble. Back to musems some are interesting some are not I remember as a child going throught the war musem that was cool why because I like war stuff now that doesn't mean I like war I am somewhat normal and do not like seeing people die as the result of war but old tanks,trucks and guns are interesting.........now when it comes to art some of the things that are called art are to me just junk honestly I do not understand how some pieces of junk can be called art but then I am a bit of an old fashion woman..........

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  10. Love. Love. Love this rambling and would even with all caps!

    I visited the US Marine Corps museum and it was amazing.

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  11. I like museums a lot, but I like divergent thinking more so I could get on board with where you were going with this. And I think you made your point. I especially enjoyed the real, solid explanations for what about these wonders could drive you to such an opinion. Interesting voice throughout. This could have taken a different, more confrontational tact and you held back. I appreciated that and it gave your points more weight in my mind. And I LOVE the National Aquarium too! Erin

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  12. Although I love museums, I completely agree with the frustration of the layout. I guess it's to allow people to freely choose the order in which they observe the displays, but I'm one of those people who likes direction and structure!

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  13. I went to the Met in NYC, spent hours there, came out and realized, I'd MISSED OUT ON A WHOLE WING which I didn't know existed. Because you'll need a GPS to navigate that place. 

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  14. Visiting the US is on one of my bucket list

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  15. Thanks, it is a fine line between snarky an whiney.

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  16. I knew I wasn't the only one! :)

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  17. I sometimes get the little audio tour, if I want to hit it all. Often they aren't up to date, tho.

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  18. Find some locals who can tell you what to see and what to avoid. Thanks for stopping by...

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  19. Museums are so amazing, but so hard to navigate! I get this. 

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  20. I love museums for the most part. Though, like you I think the layout is stress inducing in the giant ones. Because many of them are so expensive I feel I have to see everything. But I don't know what the hell I'm looking at, and the audio tour is too constricting, not to mention it costs extra. And then you look at a canvas that is blue, and you think, damn, I could do that, how did it end up in a museum? To each his own. Seriously, though, for a second, I do love them, and they are worth their weight in gold which is usually what it takes to get in.

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  21. i love a good museum, but hated going to them with my kids. It is hard to get a 7 year old to understand why this painting of a ship is special and how it influence neo-classical blah blah blah.

    They just want ice cream.

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  22. I LOVE your idea of museums having "Rock The Art" days - lol! I'm telling you, they could triple the amount of people they usually have visit - and my husband might actually go! Very funny post, I think I'd prefer an aquarium to museum as well. They really do need a more organized floor plan to see everything - good point there too!

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  23. YES! About the linear layout!! I cannot stand to go somewhere that has those interconnecting rooms. How the heck am I supposed to view everything in the order that it needs to be view in?!? I mean, really!!!

    This made me nostalgic for school field trips. ::sigh:: Work should have field trips. It would give us something to look forward to and an excuse to eat exotic foods that are not from our cafeteria vending machines. 

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  24. Yeah, you lost me at "neo" when it wasn't followed by "from the Matrix."
    Lol.

    WG

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  25. Thanks or the kind words

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  26. Fortunately (unfortunately) the Smithsonian museums are largely free. The national mall is also awesome for some frisbee, so you got that going on...

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  27. Yeah! Awesome idea, work field trips...though they could be called business trips, but nobody ever wrapped my soda in foil on one of those! Great comment!

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  28. Thanks, I've always thought an infusion of some more upbeat tunes would make it more like Ferris Buehler...

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  29. Tara_pohlkottepressApril 10, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    i like museums, but having a "rock the art" day would make me love them. great thought!!

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  30. Even the less than amazing ones have some amazing. I don't usually like a lot of art, like the stuff you hang on the walls. I do like sculpture whether it is thought evoking or laugh evoking. Going to see sculpture with warped friends affords the ability to mock or emulate the sculptures and take pictures of the attempts!
    Thanks for stopping by...

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  31. Hahaha I wish museums were more orderly/linear too! I want to make sure i don't miss anything!

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  32. Oh I cannot even tell you how much I agree with you. I get distracted easily and art just does not hold my attention for long. I say that with hesitancy, I'm always waiting for lightening to strike down upon me if I admit I'm not a fan. Ha!

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  33. I can't get past the soda in tin foil comment. Why did they do that? Does tin foil keep stuff cold? 

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  34. Thanks, now if the curators were just readers...

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  35. I think we could make a mint mapping out museums...clearly

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  36. I completely agree. Earlier I commented that I'm not a big fan of paintings, but I like sculpture. I would go with fun people to see either. I haven't been struck so far...

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  37. I guess so. I rarely got soda and this was pre-juice box, so I didn't care. But the tin foil always made me wonder...

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  38. Museums bore me stupid, I'm interested for the first minute or two. I've never thought of them as needing to be linear but it would help (actually I try not to think of them much at all) Just goes to show that museums are the same in the US as they are in Oz. 'Rock the art' now that would make them so much more interesting

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  39. inspiration2dreamApril 11, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Apologies for commenting twice (that's me below) - I've been frustrated by not being able to comment from my primary blog but I think now that I've signed up for Disqus from your blog that this may work. Fingers crossed and apologies for using you :-)

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  40. I know exactly what you mean about the rooms.  I hate when I have to decide which way to go first.  How am I supposed to know the proper order if they don't tell me!! 

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  41. Thanks for voting for more Rock the Art...

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  42. Give me little footprints on the floor. OOH, how about special footprints that you can only see with special glasses on... then it wouldn't disturb those who have no such issues!

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  43. I love aquariums! I swear I could spend hours sitting cross legged on the floor just watching things swim past me. I'm totally child-like inside an aquarium.

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  44. Hahaha!  I too am a linear thinker and that makes me so anxious to see that I may be missing a room.  Oh, I chill thinking about it.

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  45. I had a reef tank for a while, it was awesome.

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  46. Don't get anxious over my anxiety, I have enough for both of us!

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  47. i love the idea of a "rock the art" day - that might give me some inspiration to visit more museums! and i get lost in my closet, so the smithsonian - i'm screwed.

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  48.  I have to think this feeling is akin to something I write that I think is pretty clever only to have my readership largely leave it uncommented upon. Oh boy ... I know this pain! And I agree with you on museums! Hate the places. I like to enter and conquer ... not browse!

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  49. Really need to capitalize on this....

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  50. I'm so glad you liked the aquarium! I share your stress at museums that aren't linear. I want to see everything, so I end up staying a long time and doubling back a few times. That's why I tend to like smaller exhibits.

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  51. Indeed. With smaller exhibits, though you get to see all of it, there is often less to be excited about.

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  52. I used to share your anxiety about seeing everything, then one day, I decided, "Screw that." I mean, a lot of museums are free, but even if I paid for it, if I enjoyed seeing whatever I got to see, that's a win. If you want to spend the whole day staring at the Hope Diamond, go for it, and don't feel a bit guilty. PS - when you're done, you'll probably be thrilled with those interconnected rooms - you can get out a lot faster that way. :-)

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  53. Yeah, I'm sure I have a bit of CDO (like OCD only the letters are in the right order)

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