More than just art, I find museums to store fantastic collections of memories. They’re life sized photo albums of our travels. It is always a great joy to find beautiful representations of places we’ve been, or to revisit a fantastic work we originally saw in a different city. It’s a bit like reliving the old and discovering the new all at the same time.
Shannon’s post from this morning reminded me of the terrific Monet we saw in Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Art Museum, which to me was more than just a painting. My first glimpse of Nympheas brought instant recognition and a flood of memories. I knew from the size and the shape of the canvas that this work was intended to hang in Paris’s awesome musée de l’Orangerie; a place we visited in 2007. The Orangerie has a world renowned collection of impressionist art, the centerpiece of which displays eight large-format Monets along the walls of two oval rooms. Pittsburgh’s Nympheas belongs to that series.
Standing in front of that painting I was several places at once. In Pittsburgh I appreciated a Monet. In Paris I photographed my wife who, in retrospect, would have chosen a different blouse for the occasion. In Giverny, I walked through Monet’s gardens and admired the water lilies that where the inspiration for these masterpieces. All of these experiences, past and present, embodied in one work of art. Is it any wonder we so enjoy museums?