Goodbye, Phila. #8 – The Art Museum
This is my last Philadelphia post, and I saved it for last because for some reason saying goodbye to the Art Museum was one of the saddest things that I have done in these past weeks. It was also the very last place we visited before we ran out of time, and it was just a little emotional for me.
It was a dreary day when we visited, which only enhanced one of the the features of the museum that has always captured my imagination – its mystery. Of course, can one wander and wander through rooms and mazes and keep finding incredible masterpieces around every turn.
But even more than that, each bit of furniture, each old stone gate uprooted and reinstalled, each sword carefully preserved, each painting tells a story of someone’s life and, more often than not, a collective life.
I can’t pause beneath the cathedral gates in the Medieval gallery without wondering how many souls passed underneath them as they went about their everyday lives, never dreaming where those gates would end up. I see the empress’ bed in the Oriental room and can almost see her lying down to go to sleep in the evening. I look at the ridged paint strokes on the Impressionist’s canvases and I wonder what Monet was wearing as his brush touched the palette. And when I stare at that viking sword in the Armor gallery – quite possibly my favorite item in the whole museum – I can hardly breathe to think of what a weapon of mass destruction that was in its time, and whose blood once coated its blade?
And the sheer volume of masterpieces – the multitudes of patterns and styles and colors and mediums. Standing before the collective creativity of generations never fails to humble me and make me feel small.
And then there’s the architecture of the building itself. The Grand Hall doesn’t speak grandeur so much as it declares the gravity of all the works, stories, and treasures kept within the building’s walls.
And when you step outside, and see all of Philadelphia laid at your feet, it’s impossible to help feeling small in contemplation of history behind you and the future before you.
I soaked up every bit of mystery, drama, and wonder that I could in this short visit to the museum. I don’t know when I’ll be back. But it will all still be waiting, growing older and older, as I grow older along with it.