This month’s topic in the Blogger Stammtisch is museums. But you see, I am not much of a museum person.
When you read about what is going on in a city, often you end up with a list of museums. I usually skip this section in the guidebook. If this is the only thing on offer, I look for cafes and squares to watch people instead. I find spending a half a day in a museum to not really be on my list of fun things to do.
Ok, well mostly not..
There are a few types of museums I do actually enjoy. I like the kind of museums you would take a 12 year old to and expect him to enjoy it.
- I like natural history museums. Seeing dinosaur skeletons and bugs preserved in goo
- I like science museums with experiments you can play with. Building bridges of metal fillings with magnets or rolling balls down inclines.
Just not so into art museums..
And while I have been to a number of art museums that I did quite enjoy, they all begin to blend together for me. I definitely like art and artists a lot, but often the massive museum format is overwhelming.So while I can certainly list some of the museums I have been to in the world, I remember so very few pieces of art from them.
The art museums I do like come from the specific exhibits not the museum as a whole. I went to a Toulouse La Trec exhibit in Vienna a number of years ago. That was fantastic. An hour is my limit to looking at such stuff though. I have been to Salvador Dali exhibits a few times and like his work as well. But again focused exhibits not a wide open “best of..” museum of art.
Travel as a 12 Year Old
So back to the travel as a 12 year old thing. I try to travel with the open and curious mind of a kid. This often means I end up with a similar sense of humor while traveling, but that is ok. And despite that child mental state I like a lot of grown up things too. I am fascinated by history, but I want to see buildings and scenes of history not tiny fragments of a bronze knife next to a scientific catalog description of it.
If a museum can make the subject more interactive and “alive” for me, I am happier in it. In 12 year old form, if there is too much reading involved I get bored. I love to read, but often the plaques and description panels are written for accuracy, not to awaken the interest of the reader.
It’s about shared passions
If a museum can make history or science come alive in my mind, then I am totally up for it. If an art museum can connect me with a period of history I like in an inspirational way, then I am into it too. I am totally into Art Nouveau so seeing art that evokes the time period excites me and matches to my passions. And actually all the better if it is a menu or a calendar.
The comic center in Brussels was similar to this as well. Comics are cool and it was presented in a way that drew me in a way that the high ceilings of one of the world famous art museums does not.
So I guess the museum thing is about passions and interests. Museums are put together (hopefully) by people that have a passion for the subject and want to share it. If I don’t share that passion to that extent, then I am not going to be into that museum. And really I have a passion for a more visceral history than archeological remains can evoke. I need a museum that fits those passions and causes my imagination to swirl. Most museums just don’t do that for me.
Museums that have left an impression
Pergamon, Berlin : They have an entire temple from Turkey rebuilt in a room. It feels like walking in history. Similar sense to walking around ruins, where that sense of “being in a museum” drops away. Several other areas have large reconstructions of architecture that I liked, though I could have done with skipping the archaeology “fragments under glass” style things.
Deutsches Museum, Munich : THE technical museum in Germany. Natural history sections with animals and skeletons as well as several levels of airplanes and rockets. It felt much closer to interactive although you can’t touch anything.
Mucha Museum, Prague : It is small, but I really like Mucha as an artist so it intrigued me to hear about his life and see the evolution of his art.
Museum of Modern Art, New York : Ok, the first few floors were quite interesting. The vivid colors and random splotches of “modern art”. There was even a stainless steel bunny that looked like a balloon. Then the upper levels made me go “this is what passes as art?”. Half a toilet bolted to the wall? And the little corner with the fire door that was buzzing that we really couldn’t decide if it was art or a problem.
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco : This is the science museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. My aunt used to take me every time I visited her in the city and it was wonderful. All sciencey and interesting. This was a time when I really WAS 12 years old and it must have just stuck.
So do you like museums? What kinds?
Also check out the other Blogger Stammtisch participants for their thoughts on museums.