Lessons from an Art Museum


Clockwise from top left: Dream of Spring, William-Adolphe Bouguereau; Dolly and Rach, John Wesley Hardrick; Bouquet in a Vase, Pierre Auguste Renoir; The Swing, Claude Audran III and Nicole Lancret

One of my favorite things to do is stroll through an art museum. My husband and I recently returned to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, near our home. While there, I thought about these lovely life lessons we can learn from an afternoon at an art museum~

Seek Beauty. An artist’s eye sees beauty everywhere. We don’t need to draw, paint, or sculpt to view the world like an artist. Contemplate the beauty of a flower, a skyscraper, or the human face. Before you bite into an apple, be amazed by its shape, texture, and color. The more we look for beauty, the more we see it.

Discover What You Love. My husband and I have learned we like Impressionism. On our last trip to the museum, he said, “It seems like I’m drawn to paintings of landscapes and you like ones with people in them.” I had never thought about it, but my outdoorsy guy was right. I like knowing that my favorite artist is Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his is Claude Monet. Who is yours?

Appreciate Differing Views. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may walk right past the gallery of abstract art, while another person lingers there for an hour. The sculpture hall may bring tears to your eyes, while your spouse admires the stained glass. Like taste in music, movies, and food, opinions on art are thankfully diverse.

Get Creative. While a visit to the museum might not inspire us to pick up a paintbrush, it can get our creative juices flowing. Write a poem, bake a cake, build a table, plant a garden, play an instrument, fix an engine, or knit a scarf. We were made to create. The word recreation reminds us of this.

Expand Your Knowledge. We should aspire to be life-long learners. A museum teaches us about art and artists, history and culture, geography and science, and perhaps most importantly, about ourselves and the people who join us.

Life Is Short. Most of the artwork in museums was created by people who are no longer living. It is a gentle reminder that in the grand scheme of things, our time on Earth is but a blip, leading us to think about how we are living and what legacy we will leave behind.

We Have So Much In Common. It’s easy to believe that we are incredibly different than people who lived a thousand years ago or 10,000 miles away. We may even think we are very different than the stranger standing next to us. The collections in an art museum show that people across time and space have sought beauty, meaning, happiness, and love.

Reframe Your Perspective. A museum is a great place to clear your head and gain a fresh attitude. Many great works of art remind us that personal and societal challenges are a part of life’s journey and can be overcome with courage and determination.

Be Grateful. I’m thankful to live in a society that values art. How astonishing it is that we can stand inches away from a perfectly-preserved painting of The Madonna and Child created in Italy in the late 1400s. I am grateful for the archivists, curators, and other museum workers and volunteers who make that possible.

Our Life is Our Masterpiece.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “We are not metaphorically, but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character.” Our very existence is a miraculous creation, and we are called to be the artist of our own life.

“Make every day your masterpiece.” ~ Coach John Wooden

Think On These Things ~ Alicia


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