First Stop: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I’ve become inspired to explore all the museums and cultural institutions of NYC after reading an article about a well-established designer who was on sabbatical for a year in Bali. Every seven years, he took a year off to recharge his batteries rather than leaving it all for retirement. Fortunate as I am, those luxuries are a bit beyond my reach, but I was inspired. Instead of fleeing to a remote destination, I decided to embrace the vast culture right next door in New York City. My goal was to see museum or cultural institution once a month to energize my outlook and channel inspiration. As a graphic designer for these incredible institutions, it made perfect sense!
It started on a crisp spring morning. First stop? The Metropolitan Museum of Art. With my 10 year old son Kyle in tow, we headed into Manhattan. It was his first visit and I hadn’t been there since college. We had no set plan, just a very handy map that Kyle decided to navigate (impressive!). As a designer, I can appreciate the details in print materials; the map was thoughtfully detailed, easy to decipher and fit in his pocket. Anyway, we ended up spending four hours meandering through the first floor with a quick trip upstairs to see the huge painting of Washington.
While exploring a museum of this magnitude with a 10 year old is a bit more challenging than with friends, it’s quite rewarding; you see things through their eyes. Soon after our first floor expedition Kyle was hungry. The café in the new American wing featured an appealing menu with “traditional American favorites, soups, salads, and sandwiches.” We dined on pumpkin soup, cold salmon and beets over greens, and rice pudding for dessert in the sculpture- and stained glass–filled Charles Engelhard Court. Even the beautiful café tied into the museum. Very savvy marketing.
After lunch, we explored the Arms and Armor section, which was Kyle’s favorite. While strolling, college art history classes came flooding back as we passed Greek and Roman statues, and being able to share them with Kyle was great. We sat together in the calm and peaceful galleries then headed over to Kyle’s least favorite section, the modern art paintings. He couldn’t quite grasp why Mondrian or Picasso were such a big deal, but he did single out a noteworthy Georgia O’Keefe with a skull in it. Bingo! She happens to be one of my favorite artists, so we called it a day and left on a high note. As we were leaving, I picked up some of The Met’s family brochures for future visits and to check out other designers’ work.
It was great to slow down and enjoy my son without interruption with a little culture thrown in for good measure. But was I recharged from one visit? As I stood before a Tiffany window and reflected on the craftsmanship and beauty of it all I would exclaim a resounding, “Yes!” Inspiration was found in a haunting painting entitled Still by Jenny Saville, a British painter who is my age. I left the Met wanting to push myself and further excel at my craft. The trip also made me realize how much I think about marketing, even when I’m not designing. It’s always around.
I think this cultural experiment of mine is going to be very interesting. I’m curious to see how much I grow from it. Until next time…