how to view art

washington post

Below are 5 steps the Washington Post‘s Phillip Kennicott wants you to take along in your satchel as you head out to museums today.

1. Take time.

The raging debate today about whether to allow the taking of pictures inside the museum usually hinges on whether the act of photographing is intrusive or disruptive to other visitors; more important, the act is fundamentally disruptive to the photographer’s experience of art, which is always fleeting. So leave all your devices behind. And never, ever make plans for what to do later in a museum; if you overhear people making plans for supper, drinks or when to relieve the baby sitter, give them a sharp, baleful look.

First of all, Phillip — is this debate really raging? I mean, I’m all for leaving ridiculously-oversized cameras that flash at home, but I don’t know you expect my friends to know where I am if I don’t geotag a Gauguin with a “Ugh. Hashtag hate!” caption.

2. Seek silence

Always avoid noise, because noise isn’t just distracting, it makes us hate other people.

Yes. Just always, yes.

3. Study up

One of the most deceptive promises made by our stewards of culture over the past half century is: You don’t need to know anything to enjoy art…So study up. Even 10 minutes on Wikipedia can help orient you and fundamentally transform the experience.

Or me. You’re welcome.

4. Engage memory

Always try to remember the name of and at least one work by an artist whom you didn’t know before walking into the museum.

This is actually easier when you bring your smartphone, Phillip.

5. Accept contradiction

Some practical advice: If you feel better about yourself when you leave a museum, you’re probably doing it all wrong.

Unless you break all of these rules…which I plan to do.

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