The best friend and I decided to hang out several days ago, on Vesak day, since neither of us were involved in religious festivities and we were both close to pulling all our hairs from our heads out of boredom. Since we were both running low on cash, we hardly had anywhere to go that wouldn’t require us to splurge, and we ended up lunching at a cheap udon place (which wasn’t too bad after all) and museum hopping. Not that we did much “hopping” since we ended up visiting only the Pinacothèque de Paris – we didn’t have much time to wander about because we had to get home before dinner.
Though the museum opened only the day before we decided to drop by, it was eerily quiet. Then again, most museums in Singapore are eerily quiet since the arts isn’t that big a thing here, unfortunately.
There were three separate galleries in the museum, each with art and historical displays of different themes. Strangely enough, we spent quite a significant portion of our time there in the first gallery, which not only had the least exhibits, but was also free to enter for all visitors.
The first gallery consisted of a small collection of neolithic to relatively modern artefacts from the Southeast Asian territory, chronologically arranged to follow the narrative and development of Austronesian migration as well as the progress of its derivative civilisations.
It felt rather odd seeing such artefacts up close in person given that I’ve spent several months reading up on these cultures in preparation for my Oxford interview, and that should I get end up studying archaeology and anthropology at UCL in a few months, I’ll get to be able to see and examine more of such. That is, if I get the money to go to UCL. There’s just something so surreal about seeing artefacts that have survived through tens of thousands of years, knowing that someone made this statue, sculpture, painting, artefact long before you ever existed, and that its creator – and perhaps even the civilisation it represents – is long gone, but this thing still stands before you. I understand that was a really inelegant way of explaining that queer sense of awe I had whilst standing before these displays, but it is simply that the feeling’s so overwhelming that I can’t seem to put it down in words. The closest I can get is perhaps this quote from Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch:
“When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a glancing sun-struck instance that existed now and forever”
Or maybe this:
“And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch. For if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time — so too has love. Insofar as it is immortal (and it is) I have a small, bright, immutable part in that immortality. It exists; and it keeps on existing.”
The second gallery houses a small collection of art from private collectors around the world (which otherwise means these works aren’t often featured in museums unless they’re loaned for specific displays.)
There weren’t as many paintings as I’d like to have seen, but I suppose it is difficult to coax art owners to loan pieces from their personal collections. (And I might just have been too spoiled by that one trip to the Musee D’Orsay.)
The final gallery – an exhibition on Cleopetra – took us the longest to get through, since it consisted of over a hundred artefacts on the queen of Egypt herself, as well as the Roman and Ptolemaic Egyptian civilisations surrounding her.
Cleopatra, if I’m not mistaken
I can’t remember who this was
Hades and Ceberus
Jewellery and adornments
An Egyptian scroll I can’t decipher
Costumes from various productions of Cleopatra’s story
Death of Cleopatra
A more stylised take on the death of cleopatra
Another Cleopatra portrait
It was absolutely lovely getting to dawdle about a museum for the first time in months, though it’s obviously nothing compared to when the best friend and I roved around the Louvre for an entire day (but barely got to see half of what the museum had to offer). Two years on from our trip to Paris and we continue to reminisce about the wild times we had there, but alas I’m contented with the little faux-Parisian escapade we had today.