I grew up admiring, researching, analyzing, and enjoying art. We have Monet and Van Gogh prints hanging in our house, pieces I stared at as a child never expecting to see the artists’ original paintings in real life. Sure, I hoped to one day become established, and travel to a beautiful European country to visit a fancy museum, and cross that off my bucket list, but I never imagined that it would happen by getting on a crowded train to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
I heard from some of my friends about Campus Philly CollegeFest, a one-day event which offers college students throughout the Philadelphia area free SEPTA (regional rail) tickets, free admission into the city’s museums, and more. I decided that I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity like this, so one of my friends agreed to go with me and see what it was all about.
Katherine, my roommate, and I left in the late morning to start our adventure in Philly, and I felt myself getting that shaky nervous feeling you get before you do something new. Before I knew it, I was sitting on a train looking out the window and watching the shiny skyline of the city draw closer.
Once we got off the train, we made our way through the busy city streets towards our final destination: the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The main festivities of Campus Philly were at the “Rocky steps” in front of the museum. We finally figured out how to navigate our way through a crowd of individuals gathered for a cultural festival outside the museum and made it to the iconic museum steps. The enormity of the museum surprised me.
We took a picture near the Rocky statue since we didn’t really have the time to wait in a long line to stand right by it. We then ran up the steps like Rocky, which was really exhausting in the heat of the day, but something I will never forget. We first entered a gallery with a lot of paintings by artists that I didn’t know. However, the next room we entered held a painting that I recognized. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that it was painted by Claude Monet. I actually thought that it was just a copy of it at first, but after Katherine assured me that it was authentic, I was so shocked I could barely move. I was not expecting to see something by an artist that I admired so much.
I stared at the signature, the brushstrokes in the paint. I could almost picture Monet holding a messy paintbrush and writing his name right in front of me. We kept walking and came across a Van Gogh painting of sunflowers. The signatures of the artists were what I could not stop staring at. I viewed them as fingerprints of these amazingly talented people, something that proved that they had been here. It was like the artist was saying that although they were lost to the world, their art wasn’t.
After spending hours in the museum, we decided that it was best to head back to campus. I called my parents that evening, and I felt so happy and proud to say that I had seen real Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet paintings. I probably should have known that Philadelphia held such esteemed art, but I guess I never really thought about it. The museum really impressed me both in terms of its architectural beauty and selection of art. From photos of ancient Chinese tea houses to sculptures and modern decorations, the museum had it. I also had a great time exploring the city with Katherine; it was a bonding experience for sure.