Always Read The Words

Museums are bomb as hell. They are, after libraries, the best public building that exists. It is my firm belief that no city is truly world class until they have at least three good museums. Museums are places where you can learn, get exercise, look at art, and be seen doing “smart” things. They are a great place for dates, school trips and to take out of towners. There is literally no other place on earth that fits that description. There is one part of the museum experience, specifically the art museum experience, that is way underrated, the words.

If you’re going to an art museum and not reading all the words on all the plaques next to the paintings you are doing it wrong. And this applies to everybody, except the people who wrote the words, or professional art historians. So, everyone reading this.

When most people go to art museums they like to look at the art. This is great. You should look at the art in an art museum. But you should also do the reading. A lot of people think that they can get by on just how the art makes them feel. This is bullshit. While art certainly can make you feel a certain way and can increase or decrease your enjoyment of a painting, it should not be the only thing that you take away from the experience. Knowing where/when a painting was made is just as important as what it looks like. Some places, like the Art Institute of Chicago, don’t provide much more than a year, Painting name, artist, and materials. But even this is enough to completely expand a person’s view of a painting.

While it sounds nerdy, knowing the difference between what a pre-Raphaelite artist and an Impressionist painter were trying to do with their art form will make huge a difference in how you look at art. Reading the words will help you understand. There’s no reason to go and do hours of Wikipedia research. Just read the words on the signs. That’s what they are there for.


No go and impress bae with your knowledge of how Dutch Renaissance painters used light vs how their Italian counterparts employed perspective.