“Every day, behind the scenes, priceless works of art are moving around the Met, through a labyrinth of corridors and passageways. As this precious traffic travels to and fro, from storage to conservation and from loading bays to exhibition galleries, bright yellow signs on the walls remind staff who and what is most important, and who has right-of-way.”
Sign in the Museum of Metropolitan Art store, as seen in Newark Airport.
I forget so often how important those works of art are. Every day I see them. Every day I walk past them. Some I know well, others I do not. Yet, each one is precious. Each one is priceless. Each one is a beautiful and unique expression of a master artist. I don’t know their stories. I don’t know where they’re coming from or where they are going, but they are each beloved.
Some have been hidden away, boxed up, contained and unseen. They’ve known only dust and must and the inside of a crate. Once beautiful and beautiful yet again, yet always seen the way they were meant to be by those that know best.
Some are being restored to their original luster. They have survived so much. Some have suffered years of damage. Neglected, abused, lost and forgotten. Some have been taken, stolen away from their rightful owner and their intended and magnificent place. Instead of shining in this world and sharing their beauty with us, they were snatched away and sold in the dark. Yet none of this changes what they are. There are no scars or injuries that change what they’re meant to be.
They are each unique. They are each a statement of originality. They are each a glimpse of greatness. They are each the most important that I will encounter in that moment. They should not yield to me and I should not delay their journey, whatever it may be.
So I, too, must learn to yield to the art. I forget so often how important they are. Even though I see them every day. Perhaps I need to put up more “Yield to the Art” signs to remind me.
By the way, I don’t work at the Met and I’m not talking about sculptures or paintings. I’m talking about the other works of art in this world. I’m talking about the ones with arms and legs and eyes and ears and souls. I’m talking about the ones that I see every day, that I walk past every day. I’m talking about the ones that I so often forget while I am on my way somewhere, while I am more interested in my story, while I blindly expect, demand that the world yield to me.
I would do well to yield to the beautiful works of art in this world. To see the artistry in them, the artist that is in them. Every one of them is on their way from this place to that one. Every one of them is a masterpiece being restored in some way. Every one of them is a story in life, depth and color. Everyone is a glimpse of the Master Artist.