Building a Life List of Art Museums

A lot of people like to make lists, usually of things they need to do so they can cross them off one by one and feel a sense of accomplishment. I prefer to make lists of things that I have done or experienced so I can add to them as I go along. After writing yesterday’s post about visiting two art museums in Connecticut, I began to think about all the museums I have been to in a wide variety of places, with exhibits ranging from medieval tapestries to cutting-edge contemporary “installations.”  I thought, “Why not make a list?” and, once the idea was in my head, the names just came tumbling in to join it until I started writing them down.

Anchorage Museum

Way beyond the Hudson River School in Anchorage

To date, the list includes 32 museums in the United States and four other countries.  I recall many of them fondly and have visited several many times, particularly those in Boston and New York City.  As with all collectors, I also remember the Ones that Got Away: The High Museum in Atlanta, the Getty in Los Angeles, and the Heard Museum in Phoenix. I’m sure I missed many others, mostly for lack of time, but those two stick in my mind.  . If you visited a museum with me and it’s not on the list, please remind me of where and when.

On my bucket list are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  I went to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. as a child but a lot of paint has flowed under the bridge since then and we’re going to return in December.  We’ll be in Bethesda, MD for the book party celebrating the publication of Magical: An Anthology of Fantasy, Fairy Tales, and Other Magical Fiction for Adults, which contains my short story, “Elf Hill.” It will be easy to zip down to the city and spend a happy afternoon in the nation’s art museum.

Art and Architecture

One of the enjoyable side benefits of visiting an art museum is that you often can experience its architecture at the same time. That means you can actually walk inside a work of art and appreciate how well it works functionally as well as decoratively.  And let’s not forget emotionally.  There’s a huge difference between the emotions I experienced in Moshe Safdie’s building for the Montreal Museum of Art and Phillip Johnson’s boxy Neuberger Art Museum.

Moshe Safdie, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Museum

Moshe Safdie’s building for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The first, with its light-filled rooms and long shallow staircases like cascades of stone, made me feel bright and optimistic while the second enclosed me in dark cubes and made me feel claustrophobic.

I’m looking forward to experiencing Frank Gehry’s fantasy in Bilbao someday.  In the meantime, I can more easily visit the newly expanded, reconfigured and refurbished Clark Art Institute here in Massachusetts and enjoy the new buildings designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

The architectural piece is one I can appreciate much more now that I am a docent for Boston By Foot. As the organization has an architectural foundation, the training for new docents focuses heavily on architectural styles and history. That has given me a much greater appreciation for the buildings I see. Although I once worked at an architectural engineering firm in New York City, their business centered around large commercial buildings and infrastructure like dams and bridges. It didn’t give me the kind of background I received from @BostonByFoot.

So here it is:  my Life List of Museums i alphabetical order by state.