Wonder at The Renwick

I woke up early this morning and went straight to the Renwick Gallery to try to get there when it opened. I arrived right at 10am and was very satisfied to being the first person through the doors. I personally cannot stand crowded museums or really any crowded place in general. The vast crowds of screaming toddlers and pushy groups of tourists attract most of my attention rather the displays themselves. This has always led me to prefer museums like the National Gallery of Art and caused me to avoid the Museum of Natural History like the plague.

For about 30 minutes, I felt like the only person in the entire museum, allowing me to go through every exhibit and experience the museum without distractions. I didn’t take any pictures the first time through and did notes start until I had walked through all of the exhibit rooms. I took this approach to try to experience the exhibits before taking my phone out and transferring my focus to taking pictures. I think this led to actually better photography and much more interesting photos than if I just walked through the doors and immediately started taking pictures. I did feel though the photos I took were in no way unique from the other hundreds of thousands of photos taken in this museum. I tried to take photos capturing multiple exhibits by shooting through doors and hallways, but I’m sure the approach is not unique

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As time passed, the crowds began to grow and the museum almost had a sort of chaotic feeling. The way the art dominates the rooms leads to small walkways that do not mix well with large groups of people. As I walked around one last time, I watched one mother completely engaged in her iPhone as she tried to take a picture of Maya Lin’s glass marbles. As she was taking the picture her child who was ab out 2 years old crawled under the low security rope and tried to pick up one of the marbles. The security guard almost had an aneurysm, and the yelling brought the mother back into reality and she quickly snatched up her child. Despite this engulfment in a virtual world instead of enjoying an experience having photos, in my opinion, leads to a better recollection of the experience. There is value in memory and photos are a great tool to capture an experience. I have never been in a museum like the Renwick and plan on returning sometime in the near future.


Jack Fagan


2 thoughts on “Wonder at The Renwick”

  1. One of my very favorite pics I’ve seen–how you got both the detailed closeup and the long-range perspective of that tree thing both in focus in one shot. Nice.

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