The Mourners at the Met

Mourner-with-drawn-hood-reading-a-bookI needed to take a break from my paper (with its final version due this Monday), so I decided to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  my favorite museum that happens to be right here in New York.

What a surprise when I stumbled across one of the best (small) exhibits I have ever encountered, The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy. This exhibit is the first time these sculptures have been separated from the tomb in Burgundy they have been mourning for hundreds of years. Arranged in 2 rows, they walk and mourn in silence, doing what people have done for thousands of years–remember those who have come before. They are carved in amazing detail, only 16 inches tall, and arranged in the Medieval sculpture hall in a solemn and thought-provoking manner that stopped me in my tracks.

I love Medieval art. I love France. What a find to invite me to be as introspective as these fellows are.

In our own ways, and in mine in particular, I find myself reflecting on my past, much as these statues do. I constantly replay images from the past, thinking, from different perspectives, about how to live the present and prepare for a better future while being informed by what has gone on before. It is not that often that I get overwhelmed with an entire art display, though this one, as if walking toward the doorway through which I entered, greeted me as if personally and solemnly.

Do I mourn? Will others mourn me? I wonder to what extent anything of mine will even be remembered after I finish my journey?

While this can immediately be seen as a lament, I will instead take this as an invitation to make the remainder of my life memorable. I want to leave the world a better place, be part of something greater than myself.

What better response to have to works of art, than to want to take positive action?

What do you want people to remember about you?

Stepping Back in Time at the Cloisters

I visited the Cloisters Museum this past weekend. This is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and holds a large portion of the Medieval collection. Set in the middle of a picturesque park at the top of Manhattan, I find myself spirited away when I visit there going back in time to an idealized society and way of life that is often more romantic than reality-based.

Between druidic instincts in the surrounding park and a religious sensibility that somehow transcends its own historical rigidity, I feel the familiarity and comfort there more that comes with time and peace.

This trip, I brought my camera and intended to take photos of things I have never seen there before. Having been in every room more times than I can count, I often notice when works of art are moved, and where they previously were located. Yet, I saw some things that were still new for me. I uploaded my pictures to The Cloisters set in Flickr, and these are a few of my favorites:

I love Medieval art and culture, yet am very happy I did not live in that time; it was much harsher than it appears in our museums!

Now that I have created a new tagline for my blog, what did I learn (or rather, what meaning did I make from this trip)? Well, many of the items in this museum were used and functional items (though primarily for the wealthy and religious of the day). How those items then entered into our visage as something to be revered and learned form makes me wonder what in our current day will last, of anything? This discussion is even being discussed, in a related way, in the current SCoPE workshop Building a Virtual Museum on the History of Educational Technology.