A few weeks ago, while in Boston, a friend gave me a free ticket to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Now I’m not a regular museum goer. I support the arts, but my lip service is enough. I rarely want to pay admissions (one time I paid $25 at the Virginia Historical Society to spend 20 minutes staring at Downton Abbey costumes), and once I’m there, I feel low class compared to the seemingly more informed art viewers who pause, lean in toward each other, hand on jaw, other hand indicating a brush stroke, and whisper.
I see a picture of a girl walking a dog, read the placard (“Oil on canvas”), and I’m done.
The one thing I can get really into is architecture. I love wandering museums. I remember visiting the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. and imagining if I was rich enough to own the building as my own personal mansion. How great it would be to have a room just full of columns! I don’t know what we’d do in it, but I’d have so many good Instagrams and my Christmas parties would be lit.
I spent the better part of an hour exploring the museum. Given my predisposition outlined above, I only actually showed up to the museum because I discovered the museum normally cost $26 to enter—and I had a free ticket. I never pass up a deal, even if I don’t want the deal. Plus, there was a Matisse exhibition. I can’t name a single Matisse piece, but I know he’s famous, so this would be a perfect opportunity to pretend to be cultured.
The museum was large, gorgeous, and had lots of sunlight. I wondered what type of down payment they would require—though they didn’t have my preferred colonnade room. After drifting the halls enough that I felt I was going in circles, I still hadn’t found Matisse. (I had Google imaged his work because I don’t think I would have recognized a Matisse painting without context.) I did find a Monet exhibit, and that was exciting only because I recognized his last name. And I found some duck exhibit downstairs, which was cute.
I approached the front desk and asked where the Matisse exhibit was. The older woman stared at me.
“It’s downstairs,” she finally said.
“Oh, by the ducks?” Because that was downstairs.
“No, not by the ducks.”
“Go down those stairs.”
I went. Dear gosh, the exhibit was packed. Someone ran into me as I read about a vase that Matisse painted in a lot of his paintings. Sometimes the vase had flowers, sometimes it had paint brushes, and sometimes it was opaque (!!!). They had the actual vase on hand, too.
This reminded me of the Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch exhibit that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts hosted a while ago. That exhibit contained a series of photos of a coffee can. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting the first ten times, but by around picture 80, a coffee can is a coffee can is a coffee can. And where is the coffee now that you mention it?
Maybe I should have paid for the audio tour, but my patience seeped away like a cracked vase (I worked a while on that simile). I stared at all these people whispering and pausing and admiring, and I just could not. I decided to leave. I had gotten my $26 worth.
Now how do I find my way out of this museum?
I began texting my friend as I wandered about, seeking the exit—and not just the exit displayed on the red fire signs. I wanted to leave from the side of the building I entered on. Oh, I had been in this room before. I think I went this way.
“I’m lost in the museum,” I texted my friend. “I’m trying to leave. All it is is the same damn vase painted again and again, but the stroke is different this time.”
And this is when I lost all class. I walked into bench. That is, I walked into a bench.
The bench was the color of the floor. I hit it from the side. My shins buckled. I fell on top of it. Everyone in the gallery turned. I would have turned, but I was on top of the bench.
I pulled myself up. This was when it got crazy: I was bleeding. Now I’ve been meaning to detail this saga for this blog for some time, but I have fallen multiple times while running over the years, and I have very thin-skinned knees. That is to say, the skin fell right off my knee. And I also had cuts in my shins from walking into the bench at such a brisk speed.
Winded, embarrassed, I fled the gallery. I found the exit. I also saw the front desk. I considered the scenario where I asked them for a Band Aid.
“What happened?” they would say.
“I walked into a bench in the museum,” I would have to explain. And I just don’t think that’s a very thorough, explanatory explanation. Even though that is all that happened.
I limped into the sun. Blood had begun to trickle down my leg. Yes, I was bleeding that bad.
“How does this happen?” I asked the heavens. How do I go to a museum on a Sunday afternoon and come out with skinned knees?
Because this was Boston, there’s a college on every corner. On Google Maps, I found a recreation center and hobbled to it. At the front desk, I managed to snag a bandage and some Neosporin. When they asked what happened, I said I fell on the sidewalk.
But now you, the reader, knows: Watch your step at the museum. Or just don’t go.