I ended up going to the Renwick Gallery on a cold, rainy Saturday morning. It had been recommended to me that if I went on a weekend, I should go at opening hours. That definitely was a good idea considering as my friends and I approached, there was a short line outside in the rain around 10:20 a.m.
Most trips to museums or galleries I have taken have been with my family. My mom was a very scrapbooking-savvy person, so we were constantly posing for pictures at every square inch of a museum. My dad has now taken on that role, although he doesn’t do much with the pictures afterward, and my step-mom usually will agree to take pictures until the thousandth time. Therefore, I was a bit surprised when I went with my two friends, who very much experienced the art rather than taking many, if any, pictures.
We moved quickly. Mainly, in each room, I would capture a photo and then, we would stand on the outskirts on the room and make a few comments about the pieces such as how long it must have taken. I never pushed to get a certain spot for a picture except for one group photo. I just captured the art as I observed it, so my photography did not affect my visit at all.. There were quite a few people, but it wasn’t the most crowded gallery I’ve ever been in. Of course, most people were scrambling to obtain their photograph or own bit of proof that they were at Renwick that morning. To me, it was not as obnoxious except in the room with Gabriel Dawe’s “Plexus A1” where a gallery worker had to keep telling adults to back up.
My favorite artwork was probably Tara Donovan’s “Untitled” stacks of notecards. I loved the idea that something as simple as index cards could be transformed into something amazingly beautiful. Additionally, as others have said before me, Jennifer Angus’s “In the Midnight Garden” was a standout piece with the intricate placement of the bugs as well as the bugs’ blood spread evenly throughout the room. Unfortunately, there was some kind of event going on in the room with Janet Echelman’s “1.8,” so I did not get to look at how people reacted to what seems to be a mesmerizing piece of art. In other areas, I would be crammed up against strangers but it wasn’t because they were photographing; there was just a lot of people for the space.
In my opinion, as long as people are not running into me or others while taking a picture, I’m fine with everyone experiencing the museum in their own way, although I do agree that looking at the actual piece in person can give the viewer an understanding of the art that cannot be done through photographs. To me, there is nothing wrong with documenting a trip to the museum, as long as you take some time to comprehend what you are looking at. I think that no matter what it’s nearly impossible not to contemplate the concepts of these pieces in Renwick because they are so striking. Some people are the kind of people that need to preserve memories, while others just live in the moment, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if while someone is taking pictures, he or she should definitely be aware of his or her surroundings and not disrupt other people or the artwork.
I’m not surprised that the study Maura Judkis references found that people that take pictures do not connect with the art as much, but in the same way, I do not feel it is necessary to restrict those who wish to take photos. However, as Matt had said, selfies probably do limit the person’s connection with the art due to the obsession to include oneself in the exhibit. At that point, the photographer’s goals are obviously more about documenting themselves than the artwork.
My research project revolves around front page newspapers, so the kind of design is quite different. Nonetheless, Renwick reminds me that every little placement resulted from decisions made about how to put together a piece. Anything can be made into art, and that was what was so amazing about “Wonder.”