Friday, July 3, 2015


For some unknown reason, something or other about resting the day before July 4th, we didn't have class today. Not that I'm complaining, but it didn't feel like a normal Friday. None of these days really feel normal anymore. 

Instead of eating at our beloved dining hall, we took the Metro to see our old friend, Nice Matin, for breakfast, waiting ever faithfully by the Lucerne hotel, another old friend. As always, Nice Matin did not disappoint. The chicken apple sausage exploded with flavor in my mouth, and the french toast was sweet and crispy in all the right places. Even for all the praise I shoved at the cafeteria in the past week, the food paled in comparison to breakfast.

Somehow, in my slightly loopier early morning state, I was under the impression that we were going to the Natural History Museum. In the flurry of organization, I had mixed up our schedule and my mental calendar looked a little blurry. So, imagine my surprise when we turned up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum I had looked the most forward to visiting. (Sorry MOMA and Natural History Museum, just being real here.) Even before actually stepping foot inside, the museum looked magnificent. (That didn't change when we walked inside either.) I felt special getting in for free as a Columbia student, until I was informed that there was no actual set price for tickets, just a suggested paying amount. If that was true, I thought, how did the museum make any money? But after seeing plenty of people sticking to the suggested paying amount like honest people with a bit of integrity, I was impressed and questioned the subject no further. As it turns out, people were more than willing to pay money to see all the breathtaking art the "Met" had to offer.  

Amongst the three crazy-packed floors we had the options of visiting, there was only so much we could cover in the ten hours we had there. There was also a roof-top garden on the fifth floor that we had hoped to visit but didn't get the chance to. Now, I do realize that that all sounds way too intense and unreasonable, but taking bathroom and food breaks into account, as well as the sheer amount of items to see in each exhibit, ten hours wasn't very much. 

Disclaimer: I won't be able to explain everything that I saw and felt perfectly (and I won't pretend to be able to) because there's just some things that are unable to be put comfortably into words. Also, I saw a lot of stuff and  therefore forgot a lot of stuff. But I'll do my best. I took so many pictures that I'm not able to fit in because the Blogger formatting is extremely restrictive and it makes the blog look weird. My camera also ran out of battery in the middle of the modern art exhibit which was extremely disappointing, so I apologize for any lack of pictures in that respect and the multitude of pictures in others. 

Our first stop was the large collection of classical paintings on the first floor. And as the first stop in the museum, there were quite a few expectations that I expected to be met in the first few minutes. I wanted to see beauty. I wanted to see wonder. I wanted to wonder.
Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin.
And you bet your bottom dollar I did, right out of the gate too. All the paintings were so exquisite and tasteful, mostly made up of portraits, figures, and landscapes. I have another strange affinity for portraits of interesting looking people. There's so much to be seen in a stranger's features and expression that isn't necessarily noticed in a scene with multiple people. I like to look at them and think "Wow they must have been a character."

After the classical paintings we took a look at its complement: modern art. I feel as though, for modern art, the paintings and pieces are so much harder to look at and understand in a different way. Often times, they lack the same immediate aesthetic beauty that a typical classical painting would have and aren't things you would normally hang in your living room as decor. Take for example, Jackson Pollock or Marcel Duchamp. Some might say "My kid can do that."  or "What's the point? It's just random blotches or items put together." but it's not. I've realized that it's hard to accept that you don't understand some of the artist's more esoteric choices because it makes you feel less intelligent, like missing out on the punchline of a joke. (Well, that's my own personal take.) But it's an interesting thing being speechless, almost like a challenge, a puzzle that you have to keep turning over and over in your head, one that you might not even get the chance to solve. There is not always one solution either which can be frustratingly difficult to some and gloriously open-ended to others. I don't know where I am in the spectrum anymore, to be honest. It doesn't matter; the art was mesmerizing.
Paint detail.

The Greek and Roman statue section was beautiful as well, elegant beyond belief with the stark white marble accentuated by clean lines and meticulous attention to the human form. The most interesting component of this section was when I found out that the Greeks had originally painted the statues they created gaudy, bright colors like red and yellow. The reason why we don't see the statues like this is because thepaint didn't last over the centuries and wore away, leaving only the beautiful white marble we automatically associate Greek statues these days. This brought up so many new ideas to me. For so long, I had attributed the simplicity in their statues to their keenness on what beauty was and the importance of form. But this wasn't actually their intention, or at least not one they had anticipated. After a quick Google search, I found what studies reveal to be what the statues would have looked like back in the times they were created; quite frankly, it was quite odd and clownish, so very different from everything I had ever known. But still, the inevitability of time wore the paint away to reveal something that not even the Greeks recognized as beautiful. I mean, how often does that happen? We all feel as though time wears everything away. People get old. Empires fall apart. And yet, the discovery of an idea that a seemingly inadvertent and unorthodox thing like time could create something we regard as timeless is riveting.
Moving on from the statues, we looked at older American furniture - think Pride in Prejudice. I had never seriously considered room design and basic furniture items but after seeing the intricacies of some of the inlaid wood walls I encountered and the stunning upholstery on the couches and chairs surrounding the equally stunning tables changed my mind.

 A silent reflection.
After a quick and much-needed break at the in-museum cafe for tea and cake, we soldiered on to look at the Egyptian and Medieval armor exhibits. Their Egyptian exhibit was known most famously for inhabiting the Temple of Dendur, acquired by the U.S. in 1965 as a gift from Egypt. But as remarkable as the temple was, I found myself lingering the longest in the trinket and jewelry rooms. Many of them were artifacts found in the recovered pyramids and tombs. As a jewelry-maker myself, able to spend hours in a bead store like that *snaps*, it was amazing to see the ornate handmade jewelry of the Egyptians. In the armor exhibit, similar to the American furniture, I had never thought artillery to be considered art, until I saw the carved wood and metal details on some of these babies. While many of the guns, swords, and knives were created for more ceremonious and aesthetically-driven purposes in the first place as opposed to everyday use or even battle use, it still managed to broaden my horizons on what I had expected three-dimensional art to be.
Dinner was served at Serafina, a cute pizza place a little walk from the Met that felt fancier than any pizza place I've ever been in. The Margherita pizza I split with Alyanna was appetizing but the dessert was the best part of the meal. We each got a different dessert to share since we couldn't decide which one to get as individuals and had quite a few winners - the chocolate mousse and raspberry tart being my particular favorites. And with full stomachs, full laughs, and full minds, we left in a cab (that turned out to be broken) to Columbia.

All I have to say is that starting the day on a high note and ending it on a high note was all I could have ever asked for. You won't find any disappointment here.

1 comment:

  1. Sharing all those desserts was an adventure in itself! I love to try new things and I'm enjoying my likeminded cohort! More adventures await us!