We went to Philadelphia for a two day work thing that had the first day unexpectedly cancelled, so we found ourselves with an unexpected free day in Philly.
Living in DC spoils an art lover. Most of the city’s best museums (which are some of the finest in the world, I would argue) are free. You get used to not paying for access to great art. Which does bring up some interesting issues: by making it seem like creative works should be free, are we devaluing the labor of artists (as has already happened online, particularly with writing and journalism); or are we making the arts more available to underserved communities? Just to put my own thoughts into this, I would point to the model of the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, which is free to residents of the county wherein it resides (Wayne County, if you’re interested). While that wouldn’t apply to museums like the National Gallery of Art nor the Smithsonian, since they are treasures for the entire country, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thinking about various models.
But my point was that it has made me cheap and I couldn’t help but notice that the Rodin Museum had only a ten dollar suggested donation (per adult), whereas most other museums were charging twenty. Also, a large selection of Rodins was not something I could readily see in DC, whereas a large selection of (for example) Impressionists is something I can see back home.
It’s not a large museum, but it’s in classy, Art Noveau looking building and filled with interesting pieces and has a beautiful garden with some larger pieces – though it was raining cats and dogs all day long, so we weren’t in the best form to appreciate, for example, a large bronze of the Gates of Hell.
A little later, we trod through the rain to the Joseph Fox Bookshop. I knew nothing about it, except that the Yelp reviews sounded promising.
It’s a very small bookstore, but it makes up for that by being exceptionally well-curated and giving a lot of space to smaller presses to publish (drum roll, please)… good books.
For example, the NYRB and Pushkin Press were amazingly well-represented (those are two presses that you can buy almost any book they publish and be confident that it will be awesome).
Naturally, I bought something. In my case, a recently re-published in book form long essay by Marcel Proust: Chardin and Rembrandt.