As we travel and explore the world around us, we invariably wander into museums here and there. As time passes, we collect an indeterminable tally of standard-museum-visits that eventually fade from memory. Yet, that may not be the case for a select few. I believe that some museums stick with us for life.
Take a moment to reflect and remember…
Does a particular museum hold a special place in your heart, even if years have passed since you roamed its halls? Has a historical exhibit permanently impacted your perspective on a subject, issue or event? Have you ever been blown away by the displays within a science hall? Has a particular work or collection of art ever struck a chord within you, eliciting unforgettable emotions? Or, as can happen on the rarest and most wonderful of occasions, has a museum seduced you with everything its got – concept and content, structure and architecture, design and delivery?
In my almost 30 years of life, I have fallen in love with a number of museums around the world, and I deeply treasure my time spent with three art museums in particular: The Frick Collection in New York City, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Recently, I paid a visit to the d’Orsay while in Paris and fell in love with this former acquaintance of mine all over again. This is my story.
Upon walking into the Musée d’Orsay, Cupid’s arrow struck me immediately. I stood at the top of the main staircase, frozen in wonder at the marvelous sight before me. A former train station that barely survived demolition, the elegant grand gallery sprawled out underneath a cavernous dome studded by a coffered ceiling of steel flourishes. Soft light filtered through frosted glass and then settled on the fluid, yet immovable, figures stationed in the central hallway below. Pulled in by the magnetism of the d’Orsay, I took one cautious step down the stairs and then let it sweep me away into artistic oblivion.
As I savored the exhibition of classical statues and painted canvases, unexpected images halted my wandering steps abruptly – the hypnotizing stare of a young girl in a portrait, the graceful curves of a woman in marble, the vibrant flower petals miraculously bursting forth from a framed still life. I stood transfixed by their beauty and gazed upon masterpieces that evoked wonder and joy within me.
When I reached the Impressionists Gallery on the uppermost floor, the works of artists such as Monet, Degas, and Renoir reaffirmed my deep fondness for their distinctive style. I stepped up close to admire the detail of their work, the dash of a brush, thick streaks of paint. Then, I moved away to witness how the lighting and coloring – the periwinkle blues and vibrant teals, splashes of yellow and touches of soft pink – all blurred together in a swirl of movement. The lively scenes of ballerinas, waterfronts and cityscapes, fields and flowers each whispered romantic sweet nothings to my heart and brought a smile to my lips. The collection lifted my spirits, and I felt as refreshed as a daisy under the warm sun of spring.
Upon reentering the central atrium, one glance at the grandiose timepiece mounted above the staircase exposed my extreme infatuation for the Musée d’Orsay. Hours had passed, and yet I couldn’t bear to leave! My heart had been stirred with emotion, and I was high on the love of art. Inside the walls of this Parisian landmark, it seemed to me as if 1,000 plays had been set in motion, and I wanted more of those performances.
So, I walked through the entire museum for a second time.
On that day, the Musée d’Orsay wooed my heart with every facet of its being, and I readily melted into its amorous embrace. Eventually, I knew it was time to say Adieu to my lovely companion, as reality pulled me from my pleasant daydream. After one final, wistful look around the main hall, I stepped out into the streets of Paris and promised to remember this darling museum forever.
Bonjour! Are you a romantic like me? Has your heart ever been wooed by a museum? (Or do you think that’s a silly notion?) Have you been to the d’Orsay in Paris? Are you interested in art museums or do you prefer other kinds of exhibitions? Please, share your museum story in the comment section below!