Monday, December 20, 2010

Which is Worse: Museum Foot or Housemaid’s Knee?

L.G.C. Smith

I love museums. Any and all museums, except maybe The Three Stooges Museum, which I’ve only heard about from my husband, who adores it and the Stooges. I have never loved the Stooges. Enough said. But any other museum – I probably love it.

Me in a museum in Avignon

I’m sure it comes as a whopping surprise to folks that, as with other things I love, such as road trips, maps, and jam-making, an excess of methodical, relentless perseverance is my preferred modus operandi when visiting museums. None of this half an hour at a time crap for me. Sorry, Juliet. That’s for you people with social lives. I’m basically a recluse --and no, I don’t have major OCD issues. Really. If I go to a museum, odds are I spent a fair bit of time and effort getting there, so I mean to make the most of it.

There is the added advantage that once in a museum, you rarely have to talk to anyone.

There are, however, a few drawbacks to my approach to museums. They are:

1. Other people think you are insane. Other people traveling with you are rarely willing to inter themselves in any museum, no matter how great, for upwards of eight hours at a time. Wieners. My husband’s most admirable trait: he can spend longer in a museum than I can. Which leads to…

2. ...Don’t try to take romantic trips any place there are museums. We spent a week in Florence for our honeymoon. I only remember the museums andthe gelato. And…

3. ...Museum Foot. This is what happens when you shuffle through vast museums sucking in everything paying no attention to how you are moving. Drag. Ooohhh. Stop. Admire. Think. Glance back. Glance forward. Ooohhh. Drag. Wow. Stop. Admire. Think. Cry. Whatever. Repeat for four to five hours. Find cafeteria. Caffeinate. Put protein in. Back to work. Drag. Ooohhh. Stop. Drag. Ooohh. Stop. Repeat until they kick you out. By the end of the day, your feet feel like you’ve run a marathon, then had your toes trod on by a mammoth. In fact, you’ve never moved faster than a sloth all day. Walking the same distance would be a breeze by comparison because you would use your muscles the way they are designed to be used. Clearly, we did not evolve to appreciate the Uffizi Gallery in two days. Even when young.

Me with fellow Museum Foot sufferers at the Rodin Museum

That’s it for the drawbacks.

Some of the most rewarding museums are the smaller ones, those local places that sent all their good stuff to the state capital or a big national museum. Possibly they never had any good stuff to begin with, so they collected what they could and slapped up a museum sign. One of my favorites is the Adams Museum in the town where I was born, Deadwood, South Dakota. (Seriously.) They had some decent stuff, even back when I was a kid, some good Wild West photos, lots of examples of barbed wire, and a load of creepy taxidermy. We went once a year when we visited my grandparents in the Black Hills.

The best exhibit, bar none, was the miniature diorama of a nudist community constructed out of popsicle sticks. I am not kidding, people. Someone local must have made it and donated it. I’m not sure the point was to make a nudist colony, or if that was just a by-product of the limitations of the construction materials. For years on end, my cousins, sibs and I would gawk, point and collapse in silent laughter as we studied the yards and yards of rolling green grass and stick people going about their business in the buff, all inside big lighted cases. Somebody in Deadwood had a sense of humor back in the seventies. God bless ‘em.

The Adams Museum has been renovated at least a few times since then, and the diorama in the basement was gone the last time I was there. Thankfully, the world is full of museums exhibiting similar testaments to questionable taste and generous estimations of intrinsic value. Thank heavens we don’t all have to make it into The Met.

My brother, stricken with an acute case of Museum Foot at Versailles

Finally, the answer to the question in the title is that Museum Foot is always better because it means you spent the day in a museum rather than on your knees scrubbing something.


Sophie Littlefield said...

what a wonderful post, lgc...and oh, I MUST travel with you - lots of places, but in particular places with museums. I would bring a book and a notebook so that when i got bored you could still take your time enjoying everything, and I would score us good seats in the cafe until you were ready to join me. That first photo is one of my favorite ever of you. :)

Sophie Littlefield said...

and p.s. the nudist colony diorama? funniest thing every. really? really?

L.G.C. Smith said...

Really. :)

Mysti said...

I think you'd like the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Venice (SoCal):

My head gets full after about two hours -- but I have that luxury living in San Francisco. What will I do when I finally get to the Louvre?

L.G.C. Smith said...

Mysti, I would LOVE the MJT. Thanks for the tip!

When you finally get to the Louvre, you'll get Museum Foot, of course, and your head might explode. In order to maximize the museum potential of Paris, which is astounding, go in the winter, stay at least two weeks, and get one of those passes that gets you in free for x number of days and which bypasses standing in the ticket lines. (Do they still have those?) Then you spend two hours in the Louvre, go do something else, then return for another two hours for as many days as it takes to reach satiety.

Unknown said...

I heart the Rodin museum...and I'll take Museum foot over the knee ANYtime. :)

Love the pic of you in Avignon. I'm still jealous of that trip

Rachael Herron said...

Museum Foot! Nudist popsicle sticks! I'm dying. And what great pics of you IN the museums. Love this.

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