Favorite Art Museum Experience – Binita Gupta ’20

I lived a 5-minute walk away from the Princeton University Art Museum for an entire three months, without caring to venture inside. It was undoubtedly a beautiful building, with stained-glass structures guarding the outside and stunning trapeze artists gracing the inside. Unfortunately, I was a freshman who glanced over it just like I glanced over half of the buildings on the campus. My knowledge of the campus was scoped to McCosh Hall (where I frequented for my lectures), Joline Hall (where I showered when my dorm showers were flooding), and my own dorm room. I was curious, but not adventurous enough to venture inside foreign buildings.

Doug and Mike Starn, (Any) Body Oddly Propped, 2015. Glass, steel and bronze. Museum commission made possible by Shelly Belfer Malkin, Class of 1986, and Anthony E. Malkin and by the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Fund. 2015-6737. © Doug and Mike Starn, 2015

However, after one particular midterm that went far worse than I expected it to go, I found myself frustrated and lost. It was my first time at college questioning whether I deserved to go here, and as soon as the exam was over, I wasn’t sure where to go. My first instinct was to go sleep off the frustration in my room, but I realized quickly that I didn’t feel like being alone. At the same time, I didn’t feel like being particularly social. I found myself gravitating — a word I use because there’s simply not one that could fit the feeling better — towards the Art Museum.

For two hours, for the first time all school year, I powered my phone off. I wandered slowly through the exhibits, taking my time to drink in each caption and photograph. Though I talked to no one for that period of time, I felt far from lonely. Surrounded by golden gilded frames and a hefty silence, I found solace in the art around me. I had grown up taking painting classes, and I’d only stopped doing so when I came to college. Stepping into the Art Museum for the first time, I realized how crucial of a role art had played in my life and how much I truly missed it. The colors, the emotion, and the drama of the artwork resonated with me, and I felt truly like I once again belonged.