Libraries, Museums, and the Ocean
The fabulous Nicole ( who was my college roommate by the way) wrote a post over on her blog about how art museums are one of her sacred spaces. As a curator, this makes my heart endlessly happy.
And of course, I couldn’t agree with her more. Going to an art museum, sculpture garden, or gallery brings me so much happy and sense of calm. Even as much as I love history, I tend to not find the same sense of peace in a history museum or site as I do in an art museum, mostly because it’s hard to put my work mind aside and really appreciate the place for what it is. Instead I’m there critiquing labels, looking how things are constructed or what a exhibit panel is made from, etc. But at art museums- in particular modern and contemporary art- I’m just transfixed in such a different way that I hardly ever make comments on labels that are falling apart or have no contextual information.
The quiet of many art museums sometimes does it for me- but that’s not entirely the case either since some of my most memorable or enjoyable art experiences have been in noisy spaces where children were laughing or saying to someone what they say in the giant Jackson Pollock painting ( ps everyone should listen to little kids’ reactions to art, it just makes you chuckle and smile). There is something about an art museum that is an escape for me. My most life changing moment of clarity came when surrounded by art. It has a power to calm and soothe like no other.
A similar place of comfort and happiness to me are libraries ( and book stores, particularly used book stores). Books provide endless hours of comfort and entertainment to me. My earliest memories are of going to the library with my mom. Since I have imposed a no new book buying rule on my personal budget, the library has become an almost weekly errand destination for me. I know most of the librarians and love that I have a place in my town that I can walk to and get practically any book I want. There the quiet is what brings me in and the possibilities of what I can learn and read bring me an excitement that I can’t even quite articulate.
I never realized how comforting being near to the ocean was until I wasn’t within a few minutes drive to the ocean when at college in New Hampshire. I’m by no means a beach bum, I don’t sail, or even swim all that often, but there is something about being close by to the ocean that brings me an intense feeling of home. Even when visiting my aunt on the other coast, being near to the water and taking that first deep breath of sea air is like coming home. It grounds me in a way I had not realized before- I think it would be impossible for me to live in Kansas ( sorry MidWesterners!) Maybe it’s being born a Pisces or just living by the ocean and working in the Ocean State, but the smell of salt water and the sight of endless water makes me feel better about life.
There are, of course, many other places in my life where I feel content and at ease with myself- at my parents’ house, in my sunroom, etc. – but the library, the art museum, and the ocean are three that I go back to time and time again when I need to quiet the static of the world and focus on me.
The ocean is a scared space. You don’t notice how much you see it/experience it until you consider moving somewhere that isn’t even close to the ocean. I don’t even like swimming in the ocean! But I couldn’t be without it.
I love this. I’ve never actually been to an art museum. (I know, I know! The shame!) But the city I live in has one, and I’ve been wanting to go take a look at it. As far as libraries, the main library in my county isn’t very personable. The one I grew up going to was so much more… I don’t know. So much more something. My high school friend, Shannon, and I used to actually drive there and get books for fun during summers. It was one of our favorite hang-out places. I have yet to go to the library in the town I just moved to, but I requested some books to pick up from there yesterday, so I can’t wait to go see the place for the first time when my books are ready. And the ocean, yes, the ocean is one of my favorite places. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I’ll get to see the beach before the end of the year, but hopefully I’ll be able to go next year.