The Smithsonian's Archives of American Art presents an exhibition on the many ways artists experience museums. The exhibition opened Jan. 14 at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery in the Smithsonian's Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture and will remain on view through May 16.
A day at a museum might involve a whirlwind tour through a maze of galleries or hours spent looking at a single work of art. The experience is as varied as the museum visitor. The sight of a Renaissance masterpiece, the sounds echoing off vaulted ceilings or a carefully orchestrated exhibition can trigger imaginations, foster ideas or spur memories, often at the same time.
Artists may gain inspiration and a sense of community from museums. Some travel long distances, meticulously plotting a tour of museums along their route. Others make repeat visits to their local museums. Some artists even work as guards in museums all day and then head home to focus on their own work. "A Day at the Museum" offers a selection of documents on display, including letters, sketchbooks, diaries, photographs and oral-history recordings revealing the role of museums in the everyday lives of American artists.
The public is invited to share stories and memories of a day at the museum through social media. The exhibition Web page features contributions using the hashtag #DayAtTheMuseum.
The Archives of American Art is the world's pre-eminent resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America.