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Do You Have a Favorite Museum?

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 10, 2021 01:52

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I'm a big believer in museums in general, for their entertainment, educational and inspirational value. I hope that everyone has at least one favorite museum.

Do you have a favorite museum? 

Is there at least one museum that you have a fondness for, that you know will give you enjoyment, offer you an education, and inspire you? I hope you do.

In general, I'm a big believer in museums. They can entertain, instruct, be a catalyst for your own interests and creativity. Visiting museums can be uplifting or sobering experiences. The exhibits can make you smile or cry, perhaps both. 

Please don't be one of those people who dislikes museums as a whole: there has to be a museum of art, or history, or technology or sports or whatever niche topic, that captures your attention. 

I realize that many museums have troubling origins or pasts. Museums have often glossed over the more horrifying, controversial aspects of humanity. Or they misrepresented (knowingly or not) historical knowledge. Or they have championed certain people or things at the expense of others. 

Some people think that museums only reflect the past, but in many ways they reflect society ever-evolving. 

I thought about this because this week my husband, younger daughter and I visited my all-time favorite museum, the Brooklyn Museum. We saw a few new exhibitions and also strolled through a few familiar exhibitions that have been revamped, with intriguing results.

I've been visiting the Brooklyn Museum since I was a young child, particularly because I've lived my whole life in Brooklyn. The museum has a remarkable collection of art, design and artifacts (as well as a world-renowned set of galleries focused on ancient Egypt). The main focus has been on American arts and crafts, as well as Brooklyn and New York. There is a historic house that was dissembled and then reassembled in the museum. There are rooms from other historic sites as well. Those entranced me as a little kid.

For more than twenty years, the Brooklyn Museum has held nearly monthly "First Saturday" events, which are free to all and feature several hours of special (and usually themed) performances, gallery talks and activities. We've gone so many times to see art, listen to live music, watch dances, and more. I've also gone to the museum many other times, and attended special events (film festivals, dance programs, etc.) We went to a few blockbuster-type exhibitions here too: "David Bowie Is" and "Studio 54: Night Magic" are two. 

The Museum is next door to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, my other favorite destination in Brooklyn, and is down the block from the Central Library branch of Brooklyn. It's also just several minutes away from Prospect Park, the premier public park of the borough.

The Museum has also seen its share of protests and controversy over the years. Most museums do. Museums are not just dainty, stuffy institutions. They have to grapple with their pasts. Visitors do too.

This essay is not just about me 'n my museum; it's about you. Ponder the essay's title. Think about your relationship with museums. Let it ever evolve. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 10, 2021 01:52

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