Sitting in the subterranean cafeteria of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a snowy day two weeks ago, I found myself pondering the phenomenon of the museum. The Met is one of my favorite places in the world. I love wandering through the halls, my mental map of the museum having long since obviated any need for a physical or virtual one. I could probably guesstimate how many hours I’ve spent therein over two decades as a New Yorker. But rather than do any numerical prestidigitation I’ll just say “a lot.” And I thought also about how the museums of the city are one of the best things about it, how they’ve enriched my life immeasurably and how they collectively constitute a primary reason I put up with the inconveniences and annoyances of life here.
But that got me thinking, how many of the museums in the city do I really visit? I have my favorites, like the Frick, the Cloisters, and the Neue. And there are the obvious blockbusters, like MoMA and the Guggenheim. And gems like the Noguchi in Queens. The more I thought about it the more I guessed that there were “a lot” of museums in New York that I’ve never been to. And, having left my job for a hopefully finite career sabbatical, I have some time on my hands these days. Wouldn’t it make a grand adventure to visit every single museum in the five boroughs, and keep a journal of where I’ve been and what I have thought of them. Who knows what amazing experiences would lie in store?
Sitting at the Met, I quickly scribbled some notes outlining the most immediately obvious things I’d need to embark on my Museum Project. I’d need a list, from which to put together a project plan. I had no idea how many museums I was in for, and how much time it would require. I also needed some rules. What constituted a visit? What happened if I went and it was closed? Would a “walk-by” count? That sort of thing.
And thus was a plan born… there are a few background posts if you’re coming to this late. Check the links in the right column. And then read on as I intrepidly set forth.