Emily Brians: New York City Museum Study

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to New York City to explore several art museums and exhibits. While I was there, my goal was to learn from the work of artists from around the world, with a special emphasis on women artists, as well as further my understanding of American culture. I was able to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Color Factory.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was a massive collection of works from different cultures, spread out over 60,000 square feet. This museum was awe inspiring. The entrance was massive, with grand arches and high ceilings. There were large columns throughout the building, which were just as beautiful as some of the art collected there. I took three days to walk through every room, taking time to consider the pieces I was experiencing as I went. I was able to see works by Van Gogh, Degas, and many more.

After three days walking through the Met, the Museum of Natural History was a welcome change. The architecture was equally beautiful and impressively massive, although not quite as sprawling as the Met. The Museum of Natural History contained an impressive collection of fossils and statues, along with biology, astronomy, and anthropology exhibits. The curation method employed in this museum was especially interesting to me, as they utilized replicas throughout their collection. This allowed the museum to educate the public about various cultures and histories while also allowing them to keep their invaluable artifacts.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was also a unique experience. The museum was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and it was a piece of art in and of itself. The layout was easily navigated and consisted of clean, white architecture spiraling in a single open space. While we were there, there was an exhibition on display which was curated by artists, entitled Artistic License. This exhibition was thoroughly enjoyable and educational, as each section of the museum was prefaced by a short essay drawing attention to what the curator wanted viewers to gain from the collection. The essays were engaging and brought up interesting points on the purpose of art and the place of women and people of color in the artistic community.

The Brooklyn Museum contained a substantial collection of interesting works of art and historical artifacts as well. This museum was especially interesting for the floor containing the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. I first learned of this exhibition through a Women in Art History class at the University of Central Arkansas. Learning about a particular work, entitled the Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, piqued my interest as a feminist and woman artist. Seeing this massive work in person was an indescribable experience. Exploring the rest of the Feminist Art collection helped to further my understanding of the history of the struggle of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. This collection contained many powerful works of art that I was extremely thankful to experience in person.

Towards end of my trip I discovered a contemporary museum called the Color Factory. This museum was an interactive exhibit designed to encourage the viewer to explore their connection to color and other people through hands on activities that engaged all of the senses. This museum was an entirely unique experience, and very powerfully demonstrated how people of all ages and from all walks of life can enjoy art. People attending the exhibit were extremely varied, consisting of a diverse collection of ages, ethnicities, and communities. However, everyone seemed to be having a great time. Most people seemed to let loose and play with the different exhibits and enjoying snacks and treats throughout the museum. At the end of almost two weeks of studying traditional art in serious museums, the Color Factory was a reminder of the diverse applicability of art and how directly it can impact someone’s life.

Throughout my stay in New York City I also attended different cultural events, such as a viewing party for the democratic primary debates, a Broadway show, the LGBTQ+ pride parade, Battery Park, Washington Square Park, the Charging Bull Statue, viewing the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and more. These events allowed me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn about culture in large cities, as well as the American culture overall. Seeing the diverse crowds walking around the city every day was a unique experience which helped me understand another way of life and the melting pot that truly creates America.