Elizabeth LeBlanc


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What has been your most exciting, most pivotal, most life-changing "museum moment"?

How has a museum changed your life? Did you discover a new idea, fall in love with a work of art/artist, or have another kind of memorable experience from the act of visiting a museum?

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    May 16 2011: My first kiss happened on a field trip to a museum. I have been hooked on museums ever since!
    • May 19 2011: So if you did not get kissed,on a field trip,museums would mean what?
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        May 19 2011: Hi Herbert! I'm pretty sure it wasn't you! My first kiss happened next to the hand made antique cradles.
        It was sweet and memorable but if he had tried to get me to lay on a bed- he might have ended up with a black eye!
        But to answer your question seriously, I think museums have helped me to find an outlet for my love of learning. However, there are so many that I still need to see and I will love discovering things on the new Google museum finder.
        • May 19 2011: Do you have to be 30+ to enjoy museums ?
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        May 19 2011: Dear Paul Martin,

        (You have the same name of the Canadian Prime Minister from the past who kept Canada out of the recent financial crisis so I am predisposed to see wonderul qualities in you!)

        However, do I detect ageism in that question or do you feel that you just cannot relate to museums?
        • May 19 2011: When I was younger a book left behind at the London Transport Museum was returned by a curator with a compliments slip that said "You are never alone with a book".
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        May 20 2011: So you have experienced that museum curators can be very wise and kind to you. Did that help you want to go back or just cement that books were a better way for you to learn?
        • May 20 2011: Never go back, never explain, never apologise, never say never - Teacher's motto
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        May 22 2011: Never explain is a teacher's motto? You need a new teacher!

        Go back and try a great museum and see if it gives you a new perspective.
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          May 22 2011: Hi Debra....we can squeeze the real experience from a museum if we are capable of a synthesis of all the enviroment,....: the pieces exposed, the light, the sounds, the smell, the steps, the time, everything is so important, and work just if we can give ourselves a significant moment suspend in our lives. I've visited so many museums, and here in my city we have 16 museums and more than 50 art galleries. The museum experience is not an isolated act or ocassion, we have to connect with the city and our lives in order to get a very richfull experience. But all depends from the way to see the world around us.
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          May 22 2011: Debra one more thing....here in Mexico we have more than 300,000 archeologycal sites. Open to the visitors there are just 180. Our heritage from the colonial period is inmense and full of astonishings things from the xvi, xvii, xviii, xix siecles. Our country is a whole museum and I have to live more than seven lives to see and feel my beloved Mexico.
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      May 22 2011: Debra you trascended the experience of just "see"....you feel.
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    May 22 2011: For me museums are unique places, they're the Muses home. When I found that I could stop and see one or two pieces instead of running around all the place trying to see it all I found real comprehension of the space, the history and the profound meaning of the museum.

    Museums sometimes are related with the concept of 'boring' because is also related to the concept of 'educational experience'. Is the same with school. Kids are always told that they have to go to school or museums to learn something specific, and that would mean to hear boring explanations and see things that they don't connect with their daily lives.

    Museums are fantastic places to link knowledge, is where kids (or anyone for that matter) can see that history is not a tale, and that studying and seeing old things relate with them directly because those things were the things that formed the ones they use now. But we have to be very careful explaining anyone who visites a museum about the experience, the subtil experience, the things that lay below a little card with a paragraph or the recorded explanation of the museums guide.
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    May 19 2011: Some lovely memoires here..enjoyed them all museum, galleries, studios have been my favorite haunts all my life and I have had many "love affairs" and deep connections to many different works over my life..the Vermeers in the Frick.and the Frick itself are like dear old friends. Last year, in Santa Fe for Easter with freinds, I had an unexcpected collision with a work called Colibri by Terrell James ( http://www.gpgallery.com/works/search/254t.) A huge abtract in unexpecetd bright turquoises and greens..I couldn't leave it's presence and just stayed with it the whole time my frieids and I were in the gallery.It has stayed with me ever since..influenced my own painting and I often return to my image of it. Terrell said Colibri means Humming Bird and that it was inspired by a stay in a tropical jungle. When she told me that I realized that her image was iconic..actually captured and played back to me her experience of the jungle. I must have recognized it and felt it beacuse I adore tropical places. It was a first for me to have that kind of unexpected emotional encounter with a painting.I hadn't seen this conversation before today and interestingly I just started a similar one inspired by Thomas's Seed Cathedral and his designs in general wher I hope to collect stories of unexpected emotional encounters with buldings and built structures.http://www.ted.com/conversations/2987/have_you_ever_had_an_unexpecte_1.html
  • May 19 2011: Well,I grew up 9 blocks from MOMA,I was with my girlfriend Ethel,we were in love,and we were both 10 years old.It was 1956,a freezing Wednesday afternoon.So to be alone,and warm we walked to the MOMA.In those days the place was empty.You could hear the guards footsteps so they were not a problem.We went to the awninged bed of Louis the IV,or V,Red silk,and hopped on,BANG......no matress,it was 'wood'.Anyway we lied down and kissed,our first kiss.Then we looked at each other,,"Thats it"??? we did not think it was such a big deal,so we went to look at the art work,and the knights in armor................Nothing to do?I'd walk to MOMA,4 times a week for years.Age 12 to16,every day,I lived there,knew the place like the back of my hand.You could blindfold me,top of the staircase,say Dali,the Crusifiction,and I would lead you right to it.First floor same thing.I felt like it MOMA was mine.THEN,more and more people started coming.Hundreds of them,it was horrible.By 1966,the place was a zoo,to crowed,I'd go to the Gugenheim,or Natural history,or one of the others.Then I went to The Arts Students League,to paint every day.After classes,you could paint in the MOMA,had to go to the office first,you could not copy to scale,I would just pick some figures and make up my own.Some you could not even sit by.I lived 4 blocks from the Gugenheim,1966,my second apartment,I would go to them every day,you meet some interesting people there,it was part of my life.The Rembrant room,the impressionists rooms,the moving 12 foot high,gold wire star.The rooms with the furniture,and beds,like they originally were in 1500's New Amsterdam,and in France a 1600'sblue silk walled bedroom.,2nd floor,back left.The Knights,swords,spears,and that ali baba sword with the golf ball emerald on the hilt,1st floor back right.The mummy,the Egyptian room down stairs,always felt strange vibes in there.100th street,& 5th Ave,Museum of the City of New York,is a real good one.Now I live on MAUI,and now I miss them.
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      May 19 2011: love this little memoire herbert..very nostalgic..I miss those days too when MOMA, The Frick, the Guggenheim, even the Met could be a private getaway..don't really enjoy going any more..impossible to have that same very intimate connection with particular works and with galleries and favorite spaces unless you have elite member priveleges.
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        May 22 2011: Yes, I totally miss the days when museums were empty. Of course, it's good for them to have the income/ticket sales, but the experience of going to an art museum is much different now than when I was in art school in the 70s or even when I went to London, Paris and Rome in the mid-80s.

        In the 70s my hangout was the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. I used to love to go there and sit with the Renoirs. I'd go every Saturday. But we also did art school field trips there with our painting and photography classes.
  • May 18 2011: I love museums, some of my most favorite ones are the Barnes Foundation, Isabelle Stuart Gardner, Louvre, Dorsay and one of the most amazing exhibits I have seen is the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum, it made me cry it was so powerful
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      May 22 2011: The d'Orsay is my favorite museum of all time. I love wandering around there.

      I think that Frida Kahlo exhibition was the same one that was shown at SFMOMA a few years back? I really liked it too!
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    May 16 2011: Yes! Of all places it was at SFMOMA. About five years ago they had a retrospective of work by Eva Hesse. I had never seen any of her work before, and barely remember her being mentioned in art school ... After getting through about 3/4 of the SFMOMA exhibition I sat down on a viewing bench and cried. I had never connected with another artist's work like I did with hers. Some of my work is very similar to hers (although using different materials and not toxic in the making of it) and I could see a real, tangible connection between her work and mine, both in a visual sense and in meaning. It was quite overwhelming.

    About twenty seven years earlier, my art school friend Keith Haring had come over to tell me about an exhibition of Pierre Alechinsky's he had just seen the day before. He was so animated and full of emotion about that show. It took me two and half decades to have that similar experience and really understand what he went through.

    Experiences like that are once in a life time, amazing events. I've never gotten over it.
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      May 19 2011: great story Kim..and love your freind Keith's work..truly authentic and original..must have been fun to know him.
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        May 22 2011: Thanks Lindsay :)

        It was fun to know him - although I knew him in Pittsburgh before he got famous and only saw him twice after he moved to New York - once when I visited his studio in NYC and another time when he was visiting the SF Bay Area. He was a great kid and full of creative energy. Pittsburgh was a bit of an incubator for him, as it was for me, but it couldn't hold him (nor I, come to think of it :).