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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane

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There are many good reasons to visit an art museum. Impressing a date. Vying for a slot in the cultural elite. Some people actually go because they appreciate art. If you're a novice art fan, this is how it's done:

1. Your virgin museum visit should take place while you're out of town. That way, your displays of ignorance will be witnessed only by strangers.

2. When you're a safe distance from home, ask a concierge, cabby, or vagrant to suggest a show. It doesn't matter whom you ask. At any given time, the entire population of any given city is racing to see some highly hyped, limited-engagement exhibit which is over tomorrow. This is the show everyone will recommend.

3. Arrive at the museum blissfully unaware that the show's been sold out for months. Do so by car. In order to save time, drop your spouse off to buy tickets. Spend an hour touring the parking lot. Worry about what your mate will do to you when and if you ever see her again.

4. Coax your car into a quasi-legal spot. Sprint towards a distant building which presumably houses art. Remind yourself, once again, to join a gym.

5. Encounter an unruly mob of art aficionados awaiting admission. Hear rumors that the exhibit is sold out. Ascertain rumors are true. Curse out museum. Curse out vagrant. Wonder how you'll ever locate diminutive spouse in horde of lanky art lovers. Wonder whether finding her is such a good idea.

6. Encounter a couple arguing about whether to leave. One mate insists this is no way to see art. (You're inclined to agree.) The other gripes about the wasted admission cost. Save their marriage by purchasing tickets.

7. Wend your way through throngs in quest of spouse. Miraculously find her commiserating with sisterhood of women who lost mates to parking lot abyss. Proudly display tickets just as spouse proudly displays hers.

8. Talk about selling extra tickets. Argue that you should have checked with each other before buying tickets. Talk about selling all four tickets and abandoning art for a mall.

9. Notice that one pair of tickets is for one o'clock show and the other isn't good until four. Decide that since it's nearly one now, you'll worry about unloading second set later.

10. Find out the museum is two hours behind schedule; you won't make it beyond lobby before three. Ask yourselves, yet again, why exactly you came.

11. Wait on line. Learn it's the wrong line. Fight way onto another line which will presumably get you into exhibit you no longer want to see.

12. Wait another half-hour in sweltering firetrap. Ask spouse to save your place on line while you contend with the coat-check. Dispose of jackets. Ask guard what kind of lunatic runs the museum.

13. Reclaim spot in front of spouse. Ignore belligerent patrons, badgering you to go to the end of the line.

14. Gain entry into crammed room that ostensibly holds priceless works of art. Strain neck in vain attempt to view paintings. Get a random glimpse of what may or may not be an Impressionistic work. Watch height-impaired spouse try to crawl her way to the front. Rescue her from enraged mob.

15. Overhear artsy noises about the exhibit. Comments like "Pointillism is a lot like connect the dots." After an hour of this, gratefully spy an exit sign -- the only mounted object in plain view.

16. Consider using the museum restrooms until you see the lines. Embark on parking lot trek, praying your car hasn't been ticketed or towed.

When you return home, you'll want to impress family and friends with your new found erudition. So don't leave the museum without lots of literature. Then be sure to study the brochures and reviews intently ... so you can describe every painting you failed to see.

© 1995 Madeleine Begun Kane. All Rights Reserved.

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