Today, we went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It’s very different from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, of course. It’s not a regional but a national museum. We went specifically to see the new wing, which looks like this:
And like this from the second landing of the stairway you see in the first picture, which takes you up through the different periods of American art:
The first floor is seventeenth- and eighteenth-century American art, the second floor is nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American art, and the third floor is modern art to the 1970s. I explored all of the floors, but of course the second was my favorite. It began with an entire room devoted to John Singer Sargent, about whom more later:
And then if you turned right, there was a collection of Aesthetic art that took my breath away, with items like the following:
I’m sorry about the blurriness. Of course I could not use a flash, so the photographs are not of the quality I would have liked. Photographs taken inside museums never are. But aren’t these exactly the sorts of things you would expect to see in Mother Night’s house?
While I was exploring the second floor, Kendrick and Ophelia, who are less enamored of nineteenth- and late twentieth-century art than I am, decided to do some of the children’s activities in a room filled with model ships. And then they went up to the third floor, because they are confirmed modernists. (Ophelia says her favorite artist is Mark Rothko, because he only uses a few colors, and then Jackson Pollock, because he drips. She loves that he’s nicknamed Jack the Dripper.)
By that point, I had gone down to the café in the courtyard, to order a cheese plate and a cappuccino. Kendrick and Ophelia arrived in time to share the cheese plate, and to order fancy cookies and the most elegant banana split I have ever had, a sort of gourmet version, which we shared as well. It reminded me so much of when I was a teenager and I would go spend the day at the National Galleries of Art. I would always eat at the café, ordering a cheese plate and a Perrier. It made me feel so adult!
Then we all went up to the third floor again so they could show me what they had found, and Ophelia could take me to her favorite paintings.
I’m going to write more about the things I saw at the museum, but I wanted to write down this description of the museum itself, so that what I write later will make sense. I did make a resolution, sitting there in the café, realizing that there were things I wanted to jot down and that I did not have paper or a pen. From now on, I’m never going to be without those items. I will always carry a pen and paper with me. Because typing ideas into my Blackberry is profoundly unsatisfying.
So you see, this post is about being a writer after all. Always carry a pen and paper!
I miss the MFA quite a lot, and the new wing looks pretty impressive. I am an ardent admirer of Sargent’s work, and I would always scoot over to the Gardner after a day at the MFA and try to see El Jaleo.
I wrote a lot at the museum. Sitting with a Singer or a Monet or in one of the early rooms, or going to one of the theme rooms (usually the imported interior of an English house). Then I wrote on legal pads that I would shove into my courier bag. Now I use blank books that my bookstore carries (and that I get at cost). I prefer jotting ideas down on paper. As Harriet the Spy says: “I will always carry a notebook.”
I believe a wee moleskin journal would be perfect for your needs.
John, it really is beautiful, and worth a visit to the MFA. And the Gardener is a lot of fun too, although I haven’t been there in a while. Yes, a small notebook. Will go look for one . . .