Art Museums Can Change Your Perspective

by Ivy Hendy

Like worked paint brushes, paintings vary; but being open to new ways of seeing isn’t always easy

Electrically plugged in, the museums’ websites have…created…electronic sparks.”

The changing world of art is changing once again.  In ways that weren’t expected, the wonderful museums of the world have had to present their acquisitions through electronic venues while their buildings have been shut down or visitor numbers restricted.  Electrically plugged in, the museums’ websites have charged up and created the equivalent of electronic sparks.

“…A web visit to the…art museums….” 

For me, a web visit to the world of art museums has uncovered art pieces that in the past I would have casually glanced at and then passed by.  My resistance was more to the unfamiliarity of the art work, than the quality of the piece. 

“My…mind was…comparing unfamiliar works of art to the old masters.”

Unfair? Yes. But even more arbitrary was that somewhere hidden from my conscious mind was a tendency to compare unfamiliar works of art to the old masters.  Outwardly, my excuses for walking by an unknown piece ranged from tired feet, to hunger, to “no time to stop.”  My unsaid secret was that I was refusing to keep an open mind.  These obstacles kept me from actually looking at many museum pieces. 

“The works pop up on the home screen.”

But these personal barriers are not nearly as convincing, even to me, when sitting at home looking at a museum’s website. It gets personal very fast. The works pop up on the home screen.  With feet propped up and a bag of Fritos by my side, I was having to think up a new batch of creative excuses to persuade myself to avoid a look. Though at first I tried, there really isn’t an easy way to stay aloof from digitally presented art works. 

I was stuck (with looking at) the museum’s vast collection.

I was stuck with opening up to the museum’s vast collection. This turned out to be a good thing! The computer images did something for me that I was not inclined to do for myself. I began to give each art piece a more careful look. 

“…And here is the rest of the story.”

Paying more digital attention to the artworks I had previously passed by in the brick-and-mortar museums has now become a personal game.  And here is ‘the rest of the story.’ Opening up my mind a crack has allowed admittance to other things. I feel I see through a different lens now; I look more closely at subjects and bric-a-brac, people and territories that I might have circumvented in the past.

There isn’t just the newly discovered art in which to take pleasure, but many more things in the world to be pleased about.

The art that electronically propelled itself onto my screen forced me to face some of my private, one-sided viewpoints. These were hidden prejudices, not easily discovered, even by me. Now there are more colors in my pallet, more ways to view the world than from a non-blinking, straight-line of sight.

I’m appreciative for the art museums and the vigilant way that they work to communicate with the world. In my case, they’ve helped my mind expand. Now, I’m happy to say that there isn’t just the newly discovered art in which to take pleasure, but many more added things in the world to be pleased about.  

The Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento’s premier museum
Crocker Art Museum | Crocker Art Museum

Ivy Hendy is a writer with several
published books