Monday, March 15, 2010

Good Morning, Museum

Whether you are a morning person or not, you just need to know: one of the most serene and invigorating experiences in the world (10x better than a caffeine shot) is the act of walking around in a museum before it opens (or, to a lesser extent, after it closes). Truly. Even though I've repeated this action again and again in different museums, I still feel a unique power in just those few seconds of museum "dawn." It soothes my rumpled morning soul like no other. :)

I don't know what it is. A quiet moment of satisfaction as you walk through the oversized doors and look up and around, with nary a soul (except the security guards) in sight. I guess you could say this experience relates to the virtue of savoring each moment, and/or the value of living in the present. You'd be right. In the mornings there are rarely any fantastic changes to greet me, except that the floors have been neatly swept, the stray chairs have been gathered in (thank you, dutiful night custodians!), and all the bright lights that normally crown the displays cases, artworks, and architectural settings with a golden halo are switched off (they lie in wait for the flick of the switchboard by the lead custodian, which was me at the BYU MoA, circa 2006-2007. I did always enjoy turning on the lights...)
In short, museums looks roughly the same in the morning. But as we all know, museums are a special place, and thus their mornings have special powers. They even have the ability to reinstill my commitment to my career at times (which is really useful right now... leisure hours are at an all-time low thanks to my busy schedule. My apologies to those who don't hear back from me as quickly as possible, and my sincere thanks to multiple family members who keep building me up and helping me along this crazy semester!). Many times I have savored my morning moment of stillness, and felt my inner Cinderella well up and say, "This is why I'm here. My gosh this is gorgeous." And all is well.

My museums are organizations kept up by (hopefully) the best intentions of many people's hearts and pocketbooks. They are beloved, highly visible, and sometimes sensational institutions visited by publics coming from far and wide with a really wide range of reasons for making the pilgrimage. Museums house surprising, creative, and intriguing collections of curios and valuables, and they rotate these objects under the public's gaze through the means of various well-selected (aka "curated") exhibitions. I've loved these big, beautiful spaces since I was little, when my dad would take me to the exclusive grand openings of libraries, museums, mansions, casinos, and the like (Viva Las Vegas!) and I would "feel the power." (Totally unrelated note: I heart Emperor's New Groove).

However, the moment is really quickly forgotten, even by me (And I mean quickly- give or take two minutes). After I reach the museum and bask in its morning glow, there are classrooms to set up, tour details to recall, training sessions to attend, colleagues to chat with, blah blah blah... and of course, the inevitable onslaught of the day's visitors: bring on the crying babies! And the shrieking and sprinting children, and the harried-looking adults, and the uncertain yet excited tweens moving around in little herds, snapping future facebook profile photos in front of the most picturesque pieces of the museums. These are glorious places during the day, too, in their own way.

Today I escaped my afternoon lesson with the memory of my morning reverie still in tact for once, and thus I decided to record it for posterity here.

This link takes you to a nifty little 360 degree tour of my current haven, the National Building Museum. In this "tour" all the lights are on, so you can't get quite the same morning view, but you can still definitely get a sense of the emptiness, the clear light, and the beauty of the space... and hopefully a sense of why I go on such random fancy tangents about it, too. If you were to come visit me out here, ps, I would shower you with all of the interesting historical information printed below the tour window. And I would deliver it in my best, most entertaining and mysterious teacher/tour guide/docent voice. We would have a great time. :)

And with that, I bid you good afternoon. Wherever you are.


Ann said...

Whew! I got dizzy! haha...but seriously, that is a beautiful building. I'm glad you get to have these mornings of joyful solitude drinking in whatever artworks are there to be admired and studied. Lucky!

Have a great week with the kiddies!

Ann-MOM said...

I can't believe you linked us to the "feel the power" moment in Emperor's New Groove. I'm still smiling! I heart it too. :)

Jayci said...

Oh I'm feelin' it. :P I love mornings alone in big buildings, so it must be EVEN BETTER in a huge, spacious, gloriously adorned museum!! Maybe I'll get to come visit you. How fun would that be?!

Judy Anne said...

What a wonderful space of beauty and grandeur. Thanks for sharing a piece of your world.