Visiting a museum is a fascinating but challenging endeavor. Rich in emotions and impressions, a visit to a museum requires the basic knowledge of art. Visitors must be able to place themselves within the museum’s emotional and physical context. Reasons why people visit museums are numerous. Falk and Dierking (1992) are confident that the prevailing majority of visitors come to museums for leisure. Therefore, before a visit to a museum takes place, individuals must ensure that the anticipated context matches their desires and preferences and meets their financial and time expectations (Falk & Dierking, 1992).
On August 23, 2011, I came to the Delaware Art Museum, located in Wilmington, Delaware. That was the first time I ever attended the Delaware Art Museum. The museum looked smaller than the one I had visited in Spain. It impressed me with its compactness, creating an atmosphere of physical and emotional density. The day I visited the museum, all three levels and fifteen galleries were open for visitors. A few other visitors and a group of young children were wandering through the museum’s corridors.
On the second level of the Delaware Art Museum I suddenly felt joy and anticipation. As I approached George Tooker’s White Wall (1964-65), the sense of anticipation gradually increased. Tooker’s picture became a true revelation to me. A graphic representation of anxiety and isolation, Tooker’s painting was like a piece of whiteness against the dark reality of life. White Wall looks confusing and leaves enough space for interpretation and analysis. It is a kind of rebellion against racism and the fear of everything non-white (Garver, 1992). A brief commentary under the painting claimed that the work had been created during the Civil Rights Movement. Tooker used his artistic talent to depict one of his college friends, who was so afraid of blacks that hid behind the white wall (Garver, 1992).
White Wall is a reflection of the young man’s fear of race – fear, which does not help but entraps and cuts the person from the rest of the world. I made a step outside and suddenly saw the Labyrinth, made of seven tons of Delaware River Rock. The path from entrance to the center of the Labyrinth is 1,515 feet long. With the diameter of 80 feet and the circumference of 253 feet, the Labyrinth is probably the most unique and impressive creation in the Delaware Art Museum.
Its design reflects the features and patterns of medieval manuscripts, with 12 concentric circles, 11 circuits, 28 U-turns representing the lunar cycle, and six right-angle turns. The Labyrinth comprises four quadrants symbolizing four seasons. Inside the Labyrinth, individuals must turn 13 times to reach the center, which is almost the same as living through 13 full moons during one year. As I look back into my museum experiences, I realize how impressive and fascinating a visit to a museum can be. Museums are perfect places for recreation and socialization, as well as personal development and intellectual growth.
Artworks provide excellent food for thought which, nonetheless, is not readily available for everyone. Visiting a museum is not as simple as it seems. Museums do not reveal their secrets to the unprepared. Visitors must apply considerable efforts to understand the hidden meanings.
Otherwise, most works of art will remain under the veil of secrecy and confusion. Like the Labyrinth, all pieces of work in the Delaware Art Museum welcome contemplation and thinking. The Labyrinth itself and the rest of the Delaware Art Museum exemplify a perfect place of peace and meditation (Anonymous, 2010). Regardless of the period in which different works of art were created, they serve a gateway into the hidden meanings of our culture.
Visiting a museum is equally fascinating and challenging. The Delaware Art Museum is a unique place, with numerous works of art created at different points of human development. George Tooker’s White Wall is a reflection of individual moods during the civil rights era. By contrast, the Labyrinth is a complex representation of medieval symbols.
Whatever the purpose, visiting a museum is always a pleasure. The Delaware Art Museum serves a gateway into the hidden meanings of our culture.
Anonymous. (2010). Delaware Art Museum’s labyrinth a place of meditation, peace. Halfspoon. Retrieved fromhttp://halfspoon-com.
blogspot.com/2010/09/delaware-art-museum-labyrinth-place-of.html Falk, J.
H. & Dierking, L.D. (1992).
The museum experience. Howells House. Garver, T.H. (1992). George Tooker. Pomegranate.