My trip to the museum

[Turner Slave Ship]
Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) by J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851)

I went to the Boston Museum of
Fine Arts
on Saturday.

I was going to write a deep essay, but it would take too much
time, so here are some random observations:

  • The flow of the European painting galleries is currently
    very confusing. You walk out of the 14th century chapel into
    19th century French art. There used to be a fairly logical
    progression from Medieval to almost-twentieth-century art, but
    if there’s any logic to it now, I couldn’t find it.
  • There was a similar problem downstairs in the Art of the
    Americas gallery — we were in the American Revolution, and then
    all of a sudden we were in Peru, and then we were in early
    nineteenth-century Boston. If there were rooms about other
    places in South America, I never found them.
  • I did manage to find the Turner Slave
    Ship
    . I don’t think I’ve ever been in the presence of any
    work of art that’s so immediately affecting. I have seen the
    Mona Lisa and the Pieta, but this is
    just hanging there on the wall and you can walk right up to it.
    It is listed in the brochure as one of the 12 greatest hits, but
    otherwise it’s treated just like any other picture.
  • The Rembrandt etchings were interesting, but to really see
    them, you’d need better light and a magnifying glass.
  • The other current exhibition I enjoyed was the Loïs
    Mailou Jones
    one. My favorite of her works was a painting
    called My Mother’s Hats — her mother was a
    successful milliner.
  • The most memorable new-to-me work I saw was a Japanese print
    of a daemon who committed suicide after flunking the civil
    service exam. It’s in red.
  • You shouldn’t even try to see everything in one afternoon —
    we should have left and hung out in the pub across the street
    about an hour before we did.

My sister, who bought the tickets, got an email request to fill
out a particularly annoying survey about her experience. For
instance, they asked what the purpose of the visit was, and “To
see the art” wasn’t one of the choices:

Which of the following statements best describes your reason for 
visiting the MFA? *This question is required. 

* I went to see a specific exhibit and/or learn about a specific 
  topic

* I went to have a new experience and just follow whatever sparked
  my curiosity and interest

* I came to spend time with friends and/or family and help them have
  a meaningful experience at the MFA

* I went to attend a specific program, lecture, course, concert,
  class, and/or film

* I like to seek out interesting things to do and the MFA is
  considered an important institution in Boston

* I went to relax in a peaceful setting and contemplate the art 
  and/or myself

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