Docents at the Indiana University Art Museum follow-up on their comradeship and work as educators by publishing a literary magazine. The Docents’ Lunching Society Writes! includes opinions, experiences, images, poetry, and “thoughtful trivia.” This poem, which appeared in that magazine, was submitted to The Docent Educator by its author.
The museum’s a nice place to visit, n’est-çe pas,
For classical sculpture or doo-dads Dada,
For paintings and gew-gaws and etchings and such,
For things made by Frenchmen and some made by Dutch.
There’s stuff that is Roman and stuff that’s Chinese,
Stuff that will anger and stuff that will please;
There’s stuff that is forthright and stuff that will baffle.
(You wonder if some wasn’t won in a raffle.)
We’re challenged by shapes and by hue saturation;
Some things that we see give us grave consternation.
“I understand this piece, but why’s that in here”
And look at that lady with no clothes – oh dear!”
We’re lured in by thousands to trudge through the halls
And stare at the things hanging there on the walls,
Things up on pedestals, things in glass cases.
Oh, what’s the allure of Matisse and Greek vases.
Of African masks and of celadon glazes?
We look till we’re dizzy; our knees buckle under.
Will our feet hold us up through the last room, we wonder.
So why do we come to this palace of art?
Just what is the wisdom its objects impart?
The answer’s a myst’ry, at least so to me,
But it matters not anyway, don’t you agree?
What matter the reasons (I’m sure there’s a lot)
It’s a cool place to hang out on days that are hot.
It’s a place where there’s pleasure, a place you can learn,
A place you can go when there’s no place to turn.
It’s a temple, a haven, psychiatrist’s office,
A place where you see the humanity of us.
So whether we’re youthful or whether we’re old,
Whether we’re paupers or rolling in gold.
Whether we’re Einsteins or persons less brainy,
Whether we’re somber or so-so or zany. The museum’s a nice place to visit, n’est-çe pas,
For classical sculpture or doo-dads Dada.
Paul E. Lane, docent, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana
Lane, Paul E. “It Works for Me…Sharing successful techniques, thoughts, and ideas…,” The Docent Educator 10.2 (Winter 2000-01): 20.