“You Have To Be There”

Above is a screen shot of the Kara Walker exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art near our home. The site allows a “walk through” of the exhibit. At least it maintains that it does. The upper left corner shows the full room and the larger picture one view of it. The large white spots on the floor are places to stand or place your cursor or something. I never could figure out what I was doing as I scrolled around on the page. I looked too long at the ceiling and managed to get motion sickness trying to move from one print to the next.

I am grateful that museums are trying very hard to create “museum tours” at home. Sadly most of the technology reminds me of the very early days of video games. Do you remember the game Pong installed in some movie theater lobbies years ago? In essence for 25 cents you could hit a white spot back and forth on a screen. Pretty exciting at the time, but no match for the elaborate games now available. I imagine that the museums may improve their “virtual” experiences too some day.

But just as ping pong is much more fun than Pong, so going to an actual museum is a deeper experience than any “virtual” imitation could ever be. The space itself, the smell, the feel of the floor under your feet, the ability to peek into the next room, the chance to move in a pattern you choose, the bench to rest on and stare for minutes at one painting. Most importantly you can see the actual scale of the work of art in comparison to your own body.

I will be back in the actual New Britain museum as soon as I can. And I can guarantee I won’t spend any time staring at the ceiling or getting motion sick.

11 thoughts on ““You Have To Be There”

  1. I never had much experience with video games, but I have played Pong, so I can relate to that. It doesn’t take long (relatively speaking) for dramatic improvements.


  2. recently I looked at an online exhibit that was like a “book” – the pages turned at your click and it was clear enough to read about the artist/work and then move to the next one. But it didn’t “feel right” – I wanted to see them up close – the size of the art and in some of this exhibit the shape and size of the objects…


  3. I love art and I also cannot wait until the museums are open again. I will remember standing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Chihuly Museum in St. Petersburg, or MoMA always finding something that took my breath away. I recently watched a show on Hulu to raise money for those out of work on Broadway. At the end of each number it was so sad no hear the quiet instead of the raucous return of applause so symbolic of live theater.


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