Let me acknowledge up front that this is *definitely* a first world problem. But, going to museums (at Philip's suggestion, mostly) had become so much of a mental relief for me, pre-COVID. The whole experience, walking in, the expansive space, often high ceilings, the whispered (or sometimes not whispered!) discussions. Discovering something new and compelling or radical you never knew about before.
Feeling incredibly grateful Philip has a membership to the Met so we could stop in for a few minutes in the middle of our walk. From the time I was able to get in free to MoMA in 1993 on my lunch hour because the company I worked for was a member, I have valued the museum pop-in. SO GREAT. You can just wander around casually without the pressure of making the cash you spent on admission "worth it".
I've certainly seen some wonderful exhibits, just recently, at the Met "Making Marvels", the etchings, the daguerreotypes, the moon photos, "Play it Loud", Camp, so many more. At the Guggenheim, Robert Mapplethorpe. At MoMA, any and all architecture or design exhibits. The Jim Henson exhibit and the 2001: A Space Odyssey exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image. Anything the Museum of the City of New York has to offer. And I was so looking forward to going to the Bill Graham exhibit at The New-York Historical Society.
But for me, the museums themselves are also an attraction. The buildings. The architecture. The social aspect. At the Met, drinks and a bit to eat at the Great Hall Balcony Bar, or on the roof if the season is right, or coffee in the Petrie Court Cafe. Walking through the glassware exhibit near the floor-to-ceiling windows above the American Wing Cafe. The swirl and beauty of the Guggenheim. Every time we pass it on our walk I feel a pang of loss. A wonderful dinner at Untitled at the Whitney. Walking through Fort Tryon Park on the way from the subway to the Cloisters. Then having a beer at a local pub nearby. Even when I went to the Louvre, as stunning as the exhibits were (including seeing the Mona Lisa!), what I remember most were the *rooms*. Each room you would walk in and gasp at how beautiful it was, especially if you looked up at the ceilings. I feel the same way about the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, such a gorgeous structure. Thank goodness Patience and Fortitude are still out front for us.
For some reason, most of all my mind keeps going back to having a drink at Flora Bar at the Met Breuer. Listening to the architecture audio tour one of the times I visited the museum was sublime. (Hear it here.)
I realize things may not get back to exactly 'normal', but I dearly hope I can experience those beautiful rooms again.