Writing isn’t always easy. Sometimes, you can get stuck in a serious writing slump. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s okay to get stuck every once in awhile, so long as you know how to get yourself out with a good dose of inspiration. One of my favorite places to get inspired is art museums. They’re the perfect places to pull inspiration from- they have rooms and rooms filled to the brim with decades of history and culture. It seems almost impossible not to get inspired by that!
Museums can feel overwhelming sometimes, especially if they have works from a variety of time periods, styles, etc. Also, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to spend a lot of time studying each piece and writing down ideas in your journal. So, I’m going to share with you my preferred method for efficient and effective museum trips.
Before going to a museum, there are a few things you should remember to bring with you. For one, you’ll need a journal. It’s pretty obvious, but still very important to mention. You should also bring something to write with. Additionally, I would suggest packing a bottle of water and a small snack, such as a granola bar, because let’s face it- museum cafes are expensive. It’s also never a bad idea to bring a jacket or sweater because museums always seem to be super chilly. Lastly, I would recommend bringing some hand sanitizer. This may just be my inner germaphobe coming out, but the thought of touching dirty railings and elevator buttons without having some hand sanitizer handy (pun intended,) makes me slightly queasy. To carry your stuff around, remember to bring a small bag. My personal favorite bag to bring on my museum adventures is my trusty lil’ Kanken bag (pictured below,) but you can bring whatever bag you want. Just a fair warning: Using this backpack can and will make your friends call you “the mom friend” when half of their stuff ends up in your bag by the end of the day. But hey, nothing wrong with that.
Now onto the exciting stuff- actually arriving at the museum. The first thing I do when I get there (you can even do this before you go if you’re up for a bit of research) is to choose a couple of rooms I really want to see, such as a new exhibit, and go to those first, making sure to dedicate a large amount of time to them. Then, if I have more time to spare, I’ll head over to styles/periods that interest me, or ones that I haven’t seen before. This way, I’m able to prioritize and strategically go about my museum day. If you want to go with a more “spontaneous” method though, I’m also a big advocate for wandering around museums without a plan. You never know what you could end up finding!
I’ll generally spend a few minutes studying the pieces that “speak” to me, taking time to read the title and description. It’s important to note that it’s okay to skip over some of them. If a piece doesn’t inspire you, move on to the next one! From there, I’ll find a place to sit and write while I study the work. Feel free to write whatever comes to your mind- it doesn’t have to make sense, be super profound, or be accurate to the time period of the art. Try not to censor yourself either! If you catch yourself saying, “That sounds stupid,” write it anyways! You never know what could end up being helpful when trying to write a larger piece later. Your journal is for your eyes only, so write whatever pops into your head! Generally speaking, my remarks end up being some form of a social commentary, but I also like to write interesting things I see in works if I think I may want to reference them in my writing later. These are all strategies that help me conquer a museum, and I hope they help generate as much material for you as they tend to do for me.
If you want to read more about the value of art museums to writers, be sure to check out my awesome friends Vivian and Lola for their museum blog posts here and here (and then check out all the rest of their stuff because their blogs are kind of addicting.)
Vivian and I channeling our inner art critic to analyze one of our favorite, most thought provoking paintings, Largillière’s “Portrait Of A Woman” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Featuring my trusty backpack. Not pictured: the maps, chocolate milk, and various other things that my friends ended up stuffing in it. Yay for mom friends!)