Friday At the Museum

Diana, Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Paul Strand

Still Life with a Bouquet of Daisies, Vincent Van Gogh


Path on the Island of Saint Martin, Vétheuil, Claude Monet

The Large bathers, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Philadelphia Museum of Art

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.

10 thoughts on “Friday At the Museum

  1. It never fails to amaze me that they let us take pictures in museums. I always feel so guilty! And you’re right, you’d never guess that was a Van Gogh until closer inspection. Nice to get your nose up in there.

  2. this reminds me that i am long, long, long overdue for a trip to the museum. and as i was reading this i just realized that this is one of the things i can do while the kids are in school!! (i think a trip once or twice a year is still enough for them or maybe it’s enough for me with them).

    love paul strand. he was one of the first photographers i was in awe of as a kid. that was the kind of photographer i wanted to be when i grew up. i absolutely loved that kind of americana, everyday life, real people photography. i still do.

  3. i love your appreciation for art and i admire your knowledge/familiarity with it. my mother is an artist and i inherited a bit of that passion, but i wish she would’ve shared it with me more when i was a child – there was a twinge of envy as i read about you and your dad visiting museums together – i wish my mom i had used the common interest to build a better bond with me, but at least i had it with my dad and our shared love for running. that’s why it warms my heart to read that you had such a profound relationship with your dad and that those memories you had with him stay so fondly with you. xo

  4. We know that wing like the back of our hands, so…..the Van Gogh is a new hanging. Diana is as beautiful as ever.
    We are so fortunate to have a museum of that caliber right in our backyard. Let’s not discuss the carbuncle, the Barnes.

  5. Quand J’habite à Madrid, j’allée souvent au Prado, à l’époque c’était gratuit pour les espagnols, quel chance!! Je pouvait aller quand je voulais, parfois je passé 2 heures et des autre fois 10 minutes ! C’est ça le vraie luxe ! J’avais le même sentiment que toi, un sentiment de paix et quiétude, j’aimée observé les tableaux et aussi le gens. J’avais le même sentiment que Holly à Tiffany’s : rien de mauvais peut te arriver dans endroit pareil ;)xo

  6. Oh Diana, she looks beautiful. I am planning a trip to Paris sometime very very very soon and I am going to have to get ALL the travel tips from you

  7. Ce musée semble avoir de très belles collections , je suis impressionnée. Aller au musée c’est la chance de s’ évader, de rêver, d’admirer, de contempler, de profiter d’oeuvres incroyables et c’est un endroit ressourçant .

  8. That tiny muted Van Gogh is one of my favorites, maybe because it’s so unexpected.
    It was so good to see you the other day! I swear if I had any pull I would get you a job in a heartbeat.

Comments are closed.