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April 09, 2012


Huh. I've hated "audio-visual aids" since I was a kid and it was supposed to engage our attention because it was like TV or someting. And the last thing I want to do at a museum is stand there and watch some video presentation. Who can concentrate on that with so much real stuff around to check out?

Similarly, it's annoying when someone online expects me to watch a YouTube vid to get info. That's more time-consuming, and seems positively retro compared to the written word.

Yup, A/V and "interactive" garbage need to go. Some of the most enjoyable museums I've visited were just oddball collections of weird old junk in a nice historic building (e.g. the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine)

How good are NY museums as spots to pick up attractive women?

Being neither tourist nor Indian, I guess I fall into SWPL. Of course, outside of NY, I would fall into tourist.
I love museums. They're kind of therapeutic for me, somehow. I also hate audio-visual aids and never use them; I think they're for the modern "ADD" viewer who need to have everything spoon-fed.
Also, the prole tourists that frequent museums are the gentler type who have some appreciation for culture. I know way too many people who can't stand being in a museum more than 20 minutes. Ghetto and low-prole people don't grasp the point of museums, discard them as boring, and thus won't give them the time of day.

Generally this is a good guide about how to see museums.

A word about the "suggested donation". The donation is suggested BECAUSE the museum takes tax dollars, one of the requirements for the government support is that admission is free. However, the government support is not nearly enough to support museum without charging admission, so the suggested donation is how they get around it. I'm not sure why the Met for example takes the government money, its gotten to the point where they may be better off with just a straight charge and donations from wealthy people (donations to museums are excellent tax write-offs).

But yes, they really do need the $25. In many places in Europe, the government supports the museums sufficiently so that that admission really is free. This is not done in the U.S. because it is elitist, not many people use museums. OTOH, the museums are available for use (and free in Europe) if people want. And governments also subsidize professional sports teams.

If you live in New York, the Met yearly membership is good value and a good alternative to the "Indian" approach HS outlines above. The place is huge and you will want to visit multiple times. For MOMA, I agree that modern art, except for some pre-WW2 stuff has not aged well so YMMV. But if you are a tourist you probably want to get to MOMA once. DIfferent museums require different approaches. For the Frick, for example, I recommend going one time, but spending the whole day there, and using the audio tour, which takes hours since they talk about almost every other painting. Its small enough to see everything in a day, or even a couple of hours if you do it rapidly, and the collection doesn't change much, but everything there is high enough quality that you want to see everything.

I completely agree with the growing use of audio-visual presentations, and you see this increasingly in modern art. With the availability of You Tube, it means that even if you ignore the quality issue, current art is just not worth seeking out, its mostly basically videos now that you can just as easily download. I have no idea how these things are physically supposed to last as objects. But for museums, one good use of video I came across yesterday was at the South Street Seaport Museum (yes, there is a museum in the mall there), where they show an eight minute film of JFK airport once you reach the fifth floor, on a big screen. Other than using a big screen, the movie shows something that they can't show on site, and does a good job and putting the rest of the collection in context. If museums use video, they should also be advised to stay away from herding people into auditoriums and to try to incorporate them more into the rest of the collections.

I'd like to visit the Museum of Sex, but I'd probably get far too depressed upon seeing how .... something has changed :(

"You never see any ghetto-looking people in a museum. "

There blacks in museums- in fact usually a good third of the exhibits are intended to reenforce their victimhood. I believe Monticello has a whole tour focusing on slaves.

The group you dont see a lot of is hispanics. They really dont seem big on learning.

Great post! In Los Angeles, the Getty is free, except for parking, but it's one of the few places in LA where it is easy to go by bus. It is a nice museum, but more for the gardens than for the art.

Lacma is free after 5, not worth paying 20 bucks. A lot of it of it is modern art crap.

If you don't want to feel cheap, a good option is becoming a member, it may be worth it if you go often enough.

Obviously, nothing in LA compares to the Metropolitan or to the European museums. You find more masterpieces in a small museum in Italy.

Besides being places to relax and escape from NAMs and violence, museums, specially art museums, can also be good places to meet interesting women, some are receptive to conversation about art, but you have to know what you are talking about. I met a couple of women like that; nothing happened afterwards but it was fun.

Anyway, I like museums, specially Art museums. Science and Natural History museums are less interesting. I like African masks, though. It is interesting that you never see blacks at African art exhibitions, just SWPLs.


The DC museums are excellent and the ones associated with Smithsonian are free. The Spy museum is pretty cool, though non-free.

You do see a good number of blacks in DC museums, but they are the middle-class type or on school trips.

Political correctness (or maybe just lack of a good director) really messed up the Museum of Native American History. Its really just badly organized, nothing is separated by geography or time. You don't learn much, though they have some cool stuff and the food court in the building is pretty good. For instance, they have huge display of arrowheads, but there is not much explanation of what comes from where or when.

The Frick is pay what you want on Sundays between 11AM and 1PM.

MOMA for me is an arthouse movie theater and a stylish yet cheap for midtown, Italian restaurant attached to a museum. I'm talking about the excellent cafeteria on the second floor run by Danny Meyer's group, not the Modern. As for the museum itself, it has a very IKEA feeling that flattens out all the great art they have. All the young SWPL tourists, couples and families walking around add to MOMA's IKEA-fication.

After the Metropolitan, my favorite museum on the East Coast is the Yale Center for British Art. Combine that with lunch at Modern Pizza in New Haven and you have a perfect day.

Of course, there was the Barnes Foundation at Merion, PA, which has the greatest collection of French impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world, and is now unfortunately going to be at the Phildalphia Museum of Art. The story of how that came to be is very long and sad.

I'm Indian, and I've paid full price always.

[HS: I know an Indian like you. His credit card is always maxed out, and he spends a lot of money on expensive meals and vacations with his beautiful non-Indian girlfriend.]

"Of course, there was the Barnes Foundation at Merion, PA, which has the greatest collection of French impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world, and is now unfortunately going to be at the Phildalphia Museum of Art."

The Barnes was awesome, the somewhat silly movie aside.

The place is located in an actual neighborhood sidestreet and there is very limited parking. You could never get in bus loads of German tourists. And there is no cafeteria for monetizing all the foot traffic.

It worked great for its actual purpose of an art school letting students get right up to the paintings. Glad I got to see it before the looting. My brain was literally full after the first two rooms.

Have you ever heard the story of the Matisse painting that hung upside down at MOMA for a long period of time before someone noticed? I bet that happens more than you'd expect with modern art in museums. In Indianapolis, we have a great western art museum that is almost blissfully free of modern art. At the regular Indianapolis Museum of Art, all the modern art is up on the fourth floor and is easy to avoid. IMA has a great J.M.W Turner collection and only has space to exhibit a quarter of it at a time and I've often thought it would be nice if they got rid of most of the modern art and used the extra space for Turner.

I'm Indian too, and I've always had an impetus to over-compensate for the purported cheapness of most Indians. I tip 20% even when the service is crappy, and am feel a sense of shame asking for the price of an item not on the menu or asking what discounts are available in a store, for example. This is irrational but it's about me being a non-cheap, courteous Indian. Indians in the tech sector are pretty cheap. Indians in finance (who earn more and socialize more with Americans) tend to be much more similar to Americans of their socio-economic class.

[HS: Jews used to be cheap, but now they are spendthrifts just like other white Americans. I'm sure that the new generation of Indians will become assimilated like that.]

How about making it your quest to visit all 700+ museums in Connecticut?

"who are as often proles from the Midwest as they are sophisticated Europeans"

Most of the Europeans I've worked with (as the only non-European in my workplace) pretty much are midwestern proles who happen to speak two languages out of necessity. Apart from that, one of the biggest differences is the Europeans are a lot more into guns.

Now I've heard that if you pay less than the "suggested" admission at the Met you'll get an attitude from the ticket person.

Back in 1990 the Wadsworth Athaneum in Hartford had a big exhibit of photos by the controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. I went there one Saturday with this girl I was dating at the time. The exhibit was packed, but eerily silent as the patrons looked at the photos with quiet reverence.

We then came to a photo which depicted a man aiming a long stream of urine into another man's gaping mouth. So much for the hushed atmosphere - I burst out in laughter. The looks I got from the other patrons, not to mention my date, were not pleasant.

Bunch of typos in my previous post:

1. Good point on NOT paying attention.
2. All of THEM total frauds.

I like going to museums, but how often can you look at even a great painting? Mencken said painting is the lowest of the arts and I have to agree as much as I would like to own a great painting.

Putting aside the value of a painting would you rather own a great painting of your choice or listen to your favorite classical music composer/composers the rest of your life? If you could only choose 1, I would choose music.

I would choose music over living in the Louvre, Vatican or whatever your favorite museum is. Or having a new masterpiece delivered to my house every week.

I've been to many top museums in the world, but I don't get the same exhilaration as I get from music.

The Picasso Museum in Paris was the worst. I know it didn't have his best paintings there.

What would you rather have in your house a Van Gogh Sunflowers or Guernica? Maybe the political statement is more important to some.

But twain, the paintings were more immediately accessible than the music until the invention of recording technology. Otherwise, I don't disagree with you.


"as much as I would like to own a great painting"

Today, anyone can have great painting for ~$200.
Giclee printing can produce copies functionally indistinguishable from originals (unless function is status). http://www.picturesalon.com/index.html

Lots of sites sell quality digital photographs of common classic paintings for peanuts. Tons are available in Internet for free. Also, many museums allow photography without flash - someone who knows what he is doing, can make a proper digital copy when the lighting is right.

So if you would like to own great painting but it absolutely must be original, it really only means that you want to be rich and let everyone know about it. Else, it's all within reach of a person of modest means.

"I like going to museums, but how often can you look at even a great painting? Mencken said painting is the lowest of the arts and I have to agree as much as I would like to own a great painting."

Dude, this is a fascinating comment.

My fantasies have involved being left alone somewhere, with access to food/water/shelter (without having to pay or work for them) with an "extra" thrown in, but the extra could be a beautiful woman, a beautiful natural setting, great music, great paintings, or great music, and maybe there is another equivalent but I could never chose which one. I have no idea what this means of if this is a sane desirel

I took my teenage kids to the Guggenheim last year. They had an exhibit of a Japanese minimalist artist whose main production was paintings of a single brush stroke. It was a little too minimal for me. However, they also had a small exhibit of Kandinsky paintings that were lively and quite beautiful. I think Russian art between the turn of 20th century and Stalin's reign was the last great flowering of visual arts. I really like the 1920's Constructivist movement. It is sad to realize that a lot of those artists died miserably in the Gulag.

I'm an Indian female, first generation, and my credit card is NOT maxed out. I'm not irresponsible.

And like the other Indian person in this thread, I also try to tip generously.

I'm also conscious of not being a cheap when it comes to other people, especially service industry people.

The National Museum of the American Indian in DC has been described as a trade show for American Indians.

To put some of the idea discussed above, at the NMAI, there was a video (too much like Youtube) of a 20-something female demonstrating something about her tribe. She complained about how her tribe was losing its culture (political correctness). Of course, in the video, the woman was wearing a GAP hoodie. The irony was totally lose on the woman.

There are many free museums in the U.S., one just has to learn to find them.

"But twain, the paintings were more immediately accessible than the music until the invention of recording technology. Otherwise, I don't disagree with you."

True, there were probably pieces by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven that were played once and heard by a 100 people.

But How many people saw a Rembrandt or other master. Many painting were done for private people. The paintings in churches were seen by many more people of course.

How many people even saw the Sistine Chapel. Most of the Romans never saw it I'll bet during the 1600's.

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