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    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City contains the third largest collection of paintings and sculptures in the world - the second largest being at the London Gallery of Art, and the single largest being at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg - or so I’m told.  The best times to visit the MET is when they’re open late on Fridays and Saturdays, for there are fewer people than compared to normal visiting hours.  You can pay any amount you wish for your admissions fee, which is part of a broader testament to how far we can come culturally as a species, for some of humanity’s finest artistic achievements are harbored in museums open to the public all across the world (it didn’t have to be this way, and such was not the case in many hubs of civilization throughout history, yet it remains to be seen if humans can maintain this culturally enriching egalitarian trend insofar as the material arts go), granted there are countless private collections own by wealthy families or individuals whom are constantly acquiring through auction pieces of art that may never be showcased in a public setting.  I believe that the best way to appreciate one’s museum experience is to visit alone (sometimes you can get very all too often wrongly thought it a good idea to visit a museum with one or more friends, but when lucky and find a partner who sees eye to eye with you on art, and you can go with them and still have a fulfilling experience, but this is an extremely rare occurrence, at least in my experience), for I have we got there I felt bad that they were not enjoying the same pieces of art as I, and felt guilty for wanting to spend a longer amount of time viewing a particular painting or lingering in a particular wing.  On top of this, when you go with friends who are disinclined to appreciate the same art as you or whom have dissimilar artistic interests, then you may spend a good deal of time talking to each other, often about things that have nothing to do with the pieces of art at hand and before you, and thus everyone walks away not having observed or appreciated the painting or sculpture at all. (I have also found this principle of going solitaire to be true while hiking and backpacking– I’d rather go outdoors alone than with someone who isn’t interested in the natural world or whom is frustrated by the length of a trip or a spontaneous detour to investigate or scrutinize something that may or may not end up to be interesting – it’s easier to just go it alone and thereby alleviate any potential difference of impulsivity or curiosity which may lead to opposition or resentment between the disagreeing parties.)  How one knows if they like an art piece can be determined easily.  Art is subjective, so what you like is up to you.   Just as you can determine whether or not you like a female’s ass by asking yourself, “would I want her to sit on my face,” you can determine if you like a painting by asking yourself, “would I want that to be hanging on my wall.”  Like writing, paintings and sculptures are special because they transmit the thoughts of a person who may or may not be alive or close to the observer.  You can stand before the artistic expressions and ideas of someone who has been deadly for over three thousand years, or who is thousands of miles away, and in this way they can be communicating something to you.  Furthermore, writing, paintings, and sculptures are ways for people to envision and explain concepts that could never happen in real life due to physical limitations or other restrictions of reality.  For instance, on paper I can depict the explosion of the Earth, something that the majority humans will never live to see if it happens at all.  There are paintings in the MET which are over one-thousand years-old, and I love to think about the time periods that the painters lived in when they created such magnificent works of art – especially Hieronymus Bosch – my favorite painter, who died over five-hundred years ago and painted some of the most bizarre, curious, and peaceful compositions imaginable.  Much of his artwork is hosted in museum collections throughout western Europe, because he was of Dutch/Netherlandish origin and descent.  A notable difference between visiting museums in the United States versus those in Europe is that in European museums generally prohibit photography of paintings or sculptures, whereas in the United States museums seem not to care if you take photographs of the artwork so long as you do not use the flash function on your camera, which unleashes deteriorative photons. So, in the museums operated by the ungrateful and stingy Eurotrash elitists, you must often purchase the postcards of the museum paintings at the gift store if you want to walk away with a convenient photograph of a painting you like.  Ultimately, this is not a bad thing for not only are you supporting the museum, but you can keep the physical postcard to appreciate down the road, or you can mail it to someone (and in any case, it’s unlikely that you would have actually printed out the photograph of the painting had you been allowed to take one in the first place).   Following this logic, a good strategy for seeing the paintings you want to see in European museums is to go to the gift store first and look at the postcards of the paintings housed in the museum before you enter the museum proper.  This way you can identify which pieces of art you want to see before you leave. 

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