Janna Adelstein, ’15
I’m sure everyone has been to a museum, whether the visit was voluntary, you were forced to go on a school trip, or you were taken by parents. As children, we are not necessarily predisposed to enjoy museums. What child would want to walk around endless big rooms with random splotches of paint on the walls? For years, I dreaded going to museums, telling myself that everything there was boring and there was nothing there that I could possibly enjoy. Even though I grew up in New York, a city brimming with world-renowned museums, I never stepped inside their doors except for mandatory school trips. Even after I went to art camp, for which I had to visit many museums, I still was unable to develop an affinity for them. Starting around the beginning of last year, however, I began to go to art museums for fun. Now I love to take friends with me and museum hopping is something I do for fun. Here are some of the reasons why I changed my tune, and why you might as well.
For starters, museums are great for inspiration. Most visual artists probably know that, but museum can inspire anyone, whether or not you even enjoy art. If you just soak up the art, (or the science, if you choose to go to a science museum), you may be able to find inspiration to write a poem, or to open your eyes to a new way of thinking.
Museums are also good news for the budget-conscious student, as most are completely free! If you bring your BHSEC student I.D, you can get in to just about any museum free of charge, and what’s better for a teenager than an activity you can do without paying anything? Even at a few museums such as the Met, where donations are mandatory, the fees are “suggested,” and you can fulfill your obligation by paying only a couple of cents if you don’t mind a dirty look from the ticket seller.
Some museums also manage to break the mold and become more subversive and intriguing. The Museum of Bad Art, in Deham, Massachusetts, for example, exclusively carries art that is “too bad to be ignored”. The UFO museum and research center in Roswell, New Mexico has pieces from the alleged UFO landing from 1947, and other extraterrestrial artifacts. Even here, in Manhattan, there is the Museum of Sex on 27th St. and 5th, bringing together exhibitions and exhibitionism.
Museums also make learning fun! It’s true—all the cool kids are saying it! Here at BHSEC, teachers drown us in homework so we can “learn,” but sometimes the best way to learn is to walk around a museum and learn about history from paintings. You can learn about fashion, or war, or culture, just from looking at a painting in a museum. In a science museum, you can learn about science, not through tedious memorization of terms and facts, but by watching cool movies about the Big Bang, or looking at dinosaur skeletons. In a history museum, you can do the same thing, and even those who aren’t history buffs can find something to enjoy. In an art museum, you can learn about art history and new painting techniques, or you can just sit and stare at beautiful paintings.
Many museums also offer great internship opportunities. At BHSEC, many students intern at the American Museum of Natural History, and there are high school internship opportunities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Whitney, and even MoMA offers a couple of classes for high school students. Internships at these museums are sure to be not only fun and educational, but will also contribute to your college transcript.
I hope that you will be inspired to check a couple museums. In fact, the New Museum, located just a couple blocks away from the 2nd avenue stop on the F train, is a great place to start. Have fun, and learn!