i have been wanting to do this post for years (not an exaggeration!). every time i came across one of these pictures of people appreciating art, as it were, i would bookmark it and put the idea into my memory bank – but eventually i had close to 10,000 favourites on flickr and i never actually mucked up the courage to look through them to compile it.

then Mallory actually did it over at Gems (*shakes fist* damn you Mallory for being so clever!) and so i was reminded that (a) Mallory is awesome and (b) i need to get off my ass.

one of my favourite things about travelling is visiting museums of any kind, but mostly art museums of course. i will never forget walking through the national portrait gallery in London for the first time, alone, with just my iPod to keep me company. i spent hours looking through everything and it was just the best. and that’s yet another reason why i’m so excited about going to NYC in October. think of all the museums that will be at our proverbial fingertips!

i’ll kick it off with a photo i took in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris almost three years ago now (!) please click on the photos to go to their originals – the photographers are listed below each one. i will make an effort to keep adding to this post as i discover more.

– by me

– by hannah & landon metz

– by Nicholas Van Orton

– by Chuck Burgess

– by Sam Coldy

– by Valeria Lazareva

– by fannyelizabeth

– by Hendrik van Leeuwen

– by Nick DeWolf Photo Archive

– by LollyKnit

– by Joshua Foster

Life archives

– Elliott Erwitt, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1995.

– Alécio de Andrade

– by me


  1. My first thought was Thomas Struth as well. His photos were really inspiring to me.

  2. love all these photos of people just enjoying their day at the museum. i love the one of the girls just lying there with friends and not giving a damn. people are so formal nowadays.

  3. Love the one of the Rothko. I used to love sitting in the Tate Modern for ages gazes at them. But now with kids, they don’t tend to linger as long as I would like at certain pics and it’s hard to look at the paintings when I’m keeping an eye on them! It’s fun to see what they think of everything, but different…

  4. Art is everything for me. I’ve burst in tears in front of “Le radeau de la Méduse” at Le Louvres, I was 15 I think. That was my first big experiment of “art emotion”. in Paris, we have a lot of museums and different exhibitions during the year, one was about a german man who collect different paintings, sculptures, photographs about death, but not in a gloomy way at all. It’s called “vanités” in french, but I don’t know the english word : this is for reminding how life is short and precious, basically. This exhibition changed my life, I think of it almost every week. Forgive my pityful english ha ha !

    See U !

  5. Pingback: Miss Moss : Art Appreciation | PurplePearlEyes

  6. wow, I LOVE these as a series! Sometimes it just as interesting to watch people view and react to art as it is to look at the paintings themselves…heading over to blogloving so I can look foward to more of your posts :)

    -Emma from littlemotley.blogspot.com (my own very very new blog if you get a moment to peek)

  7. I LOVE this post. It reminds me of my visit to the Louvre and Pompidou last year. I am so sorry that I never made it to Musee de ‘lOrangerie …but I guess it gives me a reason to go back :-)

  8. lovely idea for a post! these photos really capture that amazing feeling of being drawn into another world when one finds a painting that is captivating and inspiring.. that photo of the couple hand-in-hand is just gorgeous.

  9. I love watching and photographing people in museums! Since nowadays in most museums you can get postcards and albums with better quality reproductions of art, I usually bring my camera to the museum with the intention to photograph people watching art rather than art itself:)
    You can see some of my people-watching-art photos on my flikr if you want to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/karolinajtr/

  10. Oh that last picture is great. Now I want to go take pictures of people at museums!

  11. This is a great post. I love the Life photo. There are a few artists that paint similar scenes and they’re quite popular. Great idea!

    Jennifer Beaudet

  12. Lovely post. When I was young, I lived in NYC. As an art student, I spent countless hours in museums there. Ah, those were the days…. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to travel back there several times. My first time back I spent an entire day at the Met. Bliss. I made the mistake of going with a cranky relative to MOMA, so that was a too-short visit, but what I saw was amazing. My last NYC visit, I went to a Picasso show at the Guggenheim–amazing. I checked out the Museum of Art & Design–small, but fun. I was able to see it in an afternoon. I thought I could do the same at the Pierpont Morgan Library, but forced myself to leave (for a dinner date) after 5 hours there. For my next visit (depending when it is & what exhibits are up), I hope to visit MOMA, the Whitney and possibly the American Folk Art Museum. I’ve gotten quite blathery, but am enthusiastic about art & you mentioned your upcoming visit.

  13. Oh, what a wonderful post! I just wrote about the Joy of just looking (at Art). I might have to tip people off to this one, though!

  14. great post! it looks as if the painting stared at the viewers! I have a few shots of such kind from my own exhibition and I must tell you I love them. I feel like I´m the witness of invisible magic between two worlds, real and unreal..


  16. Pingback: Travelogue: Florence | Our Second City

Write A Comment

Pin It