Paris is full of museums; most of which I have not yet seen. When I originally arrived here I decided that I would not seek them out on my own. I planned that I would explore them all with my many potential visitors. I have had many visitors through the years (please keep coming – I love having you!), but all has not gone according to plan. Mostly they do their museum-ing during the weekdays while I am working. This makes all sorts of sense, but means that I am woefully ignorant, when it comes to art, in one of the cultural capitals of the western world.
Lucky for me, Paris provides a deal that not even I can pass up. On the first Sunday of each month, the public museums are free. Not that I would ever shirk paying 10€ for admittance to the Louvre, but this just removes one more excuse and provides a convenient schedule for museum hopping around the city. Add to that the company of a new colleague (friend) who is always game to see more of her new home, and we have a standing monthly date. To note: selecting a museum to see on first Sundays is a challenge to itself. The entire city seems to turn out and some of the most popular highlights (Musée d’Orsay, for example) are bursting at the seams with visitors. A bit too much for this not-so-secret claustrophobe.
As our adventure on the first Sunday of April (several weeks ago by now I know, I don’t want to hear it) we chose the Centre Georges Pompidou. We were joined by friends, old and new, kicking off the afternoon with the best falafel in Paris and then a coffee at the sleek museum café before taking in the all that France’s national museum of modern art had to offer.
I need to stop to clarify that, prior to this visit, I would have sworn up, down and sideways that I ‘don’t do’ modern art. The medieval historian in me can look at endless rows of Byzantine icons, but urinals hanging in museums? No dice. I have to say that this visit completely opened my eyes (literally). A big blue square can be incredibly compelling. So blue that it hurt, yet I could not look away. Good on you, Pompidou. I did learn that the pieces I had negatively associated with ‘modern’ art belonged almost entirely to the Dada movement. I now understand the concept (seeing greater meaning in the modern, ordinary world), but still am not so enthralled with the products. I’ll just stay away from that wing in the future – to each their own.
The photos above are all from the permanent collections (and the artistry that is the skyline of Paris itself), which were incredible in their scope (temporal and media) and quantity. What really blew my mind was the special exhibition, “My Way” by Jean-Michel Othoniel. In collaboration with the glass blowers of Murano, Italy, Othoniel sculpts and scars glass in magnificent colors and chains. As someone who admittedly does not ‘get’ a lot of fine art, I am not going to take anything away with my clumsy descriptions. Suffice it to say that the entire exhibit took my breath away; here are just a few examples:
The exhibit is ongoing through 23 May. I would highly recommend it, if you can. First Sunday or not.