Saturday, August 14, 2010

Consuming art: Museums and Muses

A sidewalk artist in Florence, inspired by Michelangelo's Delphic Sibyl 

I just returned from almost three weeks in the south of France and Italy, kicked off by a stopover in New York City. Aside from friends, family and food (chocolate pizza and coffee gelato most memorably) - my focus was to feast on art - as much art as possible within limited time constraints.

Since my first trip to France and Italy as a little girl, I began consuming art like an elemental form of sustenance - and source of inspiration. This summer of art consumption began with visits to a Picasso retrospective at the Met and a fabulous Matisse exhibit at MOMA in New York City, followed by Gauguin et Les Nabis at the Musee Lodeve and visits to la Musee Picasso in Antibes, the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia in Florence, and the Sistine Chapel in Rome. If not for a misinformed concierge, we would have visited the Villa Borghese Museum too. I wanted to see much more, but at some point I realized I still haven't processed everything I did get to see.

It helped to take notes for follow-up reference. Maybe it's backwards, but now I'm reading the official guide to the Uffizi. It was in the introduction to this wonderful book I came across a gem of knowledge that felt like an epiphany. Officially opened in 1765, the Uffizi was one of the first museums in Europe to conform to the modern concept of a museum as a systematically organized exhibition space for public viewing. According to the guide:

"It is worth remembering that it was created in a city which had long since been the first to revisit the disused term museum, which for the ancient Greeks signified a space dedicated to the Muses."

I'm always fascinated by the etymology of words, and I love the notion that museum stems from muses. For me, discovering this reinforces the idea of art as a source of inspiration. More on art, travel and inspiration coming up. In the meantime, please let me know your thoughts.


Julie Musil said...

Words cannot express how seriously jealous I am about your trip! That is awesome. Plus, I had no idea that museum stemmed from muse!

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Thanks, Julie! The good news is - the trip was very inspiring. The not so good news - I'm way behind on my writing and painting projects. Did you mention roller coasters lately?

Suzy Engelman Block said...

MUSE! of course!
How yummy a thought!
Can't wait to hear more about your adventure...

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Thanks, Sooz! I know, right? Can't wait to catch up with you too.