Every so often, it is amazing to stay inside. Like today. Today in Egypt, there are expected to be Islamist demonstrations, which the military will most definitely crush. So most people are staying in to stay out of the mess. At our house, that means eating from an overloaded refrigerator of Thanksgiving leftovers, checking the news, breathing slower and lounging in gratitude and good love.
In-ness can definitely allow for self-care, space for thinking, and refreshment. Ahh..
Out-ness, on the other hand, can allow for engagement and motivation.
I prefer art that is outside the “institution.” Public sculpture, social practice art, graffiti and street art, postmodern dance in prisons, classical ballet at a political demonstration, theatre in a refugee camp, music in a Hospice center, parades and block parties.
I am a big advocate of out-ness in general. Going out, experiencing life outside your comfort zone, coming out as your true self, going out of your way to help, education outside the classroom, bringing yourself and your work out in the world.
But just like the “staying in” we are doing today in Cairo, every so often it is good to go inside in general; go inside a museum in particular. Close a door behind you and look deep at something. Pull that exhibition inside yourself to understand things in a new way. To be so invested in something that you don’t think about taking a selfie, or aren’t even allowed to take a picture.
I asked a group of people who I think are badass human beings (aka friends) to tell me their favorite museums in the world. Along with my selections, here is a list of their must-see museums, some indoor and some outdoor. The notes are from various voices.
1. Science Museum in London. Most votes. Hands down. I saw the Turing exhibit last year and loved it.
2. Budapest Momento Park The biggest monuments from the Communist / Cold War period.
3. Museum on the SEAM a socio-political contemporary art museum on the green line dividing Jerusalem.
4. Getty Center in Los Angeles. The content, the architecture, the views – all beyond inspiring.
5. Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan. Their mission is “creating experiences that help each visitor find personal meaning in art.” They have one of the Top 6 collections in the U.S. and a Frida Kahlo exhibition opening in the Spring.
6. Egyptian Museum because a visitor is not provided a museum guide brochure, or map, or docents, or air conditioning, or clean benches, or educational events. You have to do the pre-work and research to know what amazing things you are looking at.
7. National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, especially in October.
8. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy
9. Dachau Concentration Camp because I went there was I was bald, there was a bitter wind, and it was one of the most visceral museum-going experiences of my life. While the content is specific to a certain place and time, it brought intense thoughts about the words “never again” and the genocides in Bosnia, Rawanda, Cambodia, Armenia and Sudan. Also, I would add my friend’s choice, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum…I left there physically exhausted, mentally drained, and absolutely heartbroken. I learn something new every time I visit!
10. Since I haven’t traveled too far, I’d have to say my favorite is Grand Rapids Public Museum. Informative, but keeps it somewhat simple for the kids to understand too. Staff is well informed, so asking questions isn’t an issue either. Their slogan is “Be curious.”
11. History Museum of Mobile in Alabama, because it was so surreal. There was even a model slave ship with shackles saying “Try these on.” The experience gave me more questions than information. Race in America. Inspiring, in a very turned-around kind of way.
12. MoMA The Museum of Modern Art in New York
13. Museum of the 1944 Uprising in Warsaw, Poland
14. Newseum in DC
15. Musée du Louvre because I was alone and overtaken by the enormity of human artistic contribution.
16. The Museum of the Occupation 1940-1991, in Riga, Latvia.
17. Muzeul National Cotroceni because it was my first time coming to a deeper understanding of communism, authoritarianism, and the complexities of people power and design.
18. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
19. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in DC. People and their stories, brought to an essence through a complicated set of artistic choices.
20. 5Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burning Aerosol Art Center
What are your favorites?