I’m a member of two of the greatest museums in the world, on two different continents. The Louvre was just a little far last week (sadly), so when faced with only a three-hour workday on Friday, I knew there was only one place I wanted to spend my afternoon. I’ve sung and will always sing the praises of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but in case you need a refresher: I love this museum. I grew up coming here almost every Sunday with my dad, and Jamal and I even had our engagement photos taken here. Museums are my happy place. They are quiet, grand, filled with all my favorite artists, and you’re encouraged to linger, to sit, to stare, to think, to soak it all in. I went to the Louvre once a week in Paris, and I can’t tell you how good that was for my soul. I was overdue for a visit to my hometown favorite.
While I knew I would inevitably end up in my favorite wing (European Art, 1850-1900) to see my boyfriends Claude, Vincent, Edgar, Pierre-Auguste, I was happy to catch the Paul Strand exhibit the museum currently has on. Nearly all of the 250 prints on view came from the museum’s archive of close to 4,000. It was an exhaustive look at Strand’s body of work, with images from Ghana, Egypt, France, Italy, coastal Maine, and of course, New York. I ran into my friend Katie, who works at the museum (lucky duck!), while I was meandering through the gallery. It was a sweet surprise to see her.
Also a delight was seeing Diana back in her spot at the top of the Great Hall stairs. The giant sculpture had been removed to be reguilded last year ago and was only recently returned, sparkling with new bright gold leaf. And once inside my favorite wing, I discovered a previously unknown-to-me van Gogh still life, of dark daisies. Would you have ever guessed that was a van Gogh? He painted it in 1885, only five years before his death. It’s moody and a little muddy for a painting of flowers, and more precise and small than his other works, which is an interesting contrast to the oversized, colorful sunflowers usually associated with him. Still, you can spot his trademark wide slabs of paint in the green shadows along the table. I love it.