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I am a Denver-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Stalking George Washington in the Met

Hot dog in hand, I entered Central Park from the American Museum of Natural History and wandered through the Ramble on my way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I didn’t dilly, or dally, though as I was on a mission. I was going to the museum to see the famous American painting by Emanuel Leutze of Washington Crossing the Delaware; when I was in New York City a little over a year previous I stopped at the Met only to find that it was not on display since the area was being renovated.

 

 
Well this time, damn it, I’d see it.

 

 
I moved through the crowded lobby directly focused on my goal, but once I crossed the security threshold I pulled back. I wanted to build up to the climax of seeing what I missed last time, not act like an unknowledgeable and eager teenager, so I wandered the rest of the museum to see what I missed the previous time. I was particularly interested in the Egyptian area since a traveling King Tut exhibit just opened in Denver.

 

I moved through it and the Asian Art displays, directly above the Egyptian, and marveled at just how much great art I had missed on my previous visit. Of course, as I sat admiring a statue of Vishnu, I realized that it’s just not possible to see the Met on one visit. That would be like doing the Louvre in an afternoon. It’s just not possible unless you plan to only pass through each room. And then, still, it’s difficult to manage.

 

I did once again pass through the rooms that I visited previously, just to see them again, not reallytaking anything particular in until I stopped admire the beautiful works by artists like Matisse, Van Gogh, and Monet. But as I moved to find my way out of the European Art rooms, I noticed some paintings I hadn’t picked up before, like The Almeh by Jean-Leon Gerome. I loved the work and admired it for a short while, but a special exhibition was on display of Pablo Picasso’s work, a favorite of mine, for the first time ever. I didn’t want to miss my chance at that either, so I left my new lovely friend and made my way back into the interior of the museum.

The special Picasso exhibit is on display until mid August with 300 of his works in a few medium-sized rooms in the center of the second floor – a perfect stop as I walked back across the museum to the American Wing for my encounter with President Washington. Despite my interest in getting to my ultimate destination, I paused as I walked through the Picasso rooms and admired his great art. I found particular interest in Dora Maar in an Armchair as it’s a piece I didn’t recall having seen a year previous as I gazed at many of his works on display in the European Art exhibit.

The time had come though, and I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to move on to the American Wing and find Washington in his famed painting. I had looked forward to this moment since a friend of mine told me it was on display once again, and I didn’t want to prolong the ecstacy any longer. It was time. I needed to be there without another moment’s hesitation.

“Excuse me,” I addressed a large museum security guard near the American Wing Courtyard, “can you tell me where Washington Crossing the Delaware is, please?”

“It’s not on display right now.”

“What? I heard it was back after the renovation of the area a year ago.”

“It’s not done yet, so it’s still not on display,” he responded stoically.

I sighed, thanked him, and wandered off in search of another gem or two in the museum, all the while feeling dejected. I had looked forward to this moment for months and in one tiny pin prick, my bubble was burst and deflating as it zipped across the large, glass-ceilinged room.

I know, some day, I’ll be back in New York and that I’ll go to the Met once again, but my hopes had been set on seeing President Washington on this visit. I had so looked forward to it, what would surely be a highlight of this trip, and was let down that he was once again able to slip through my fingers like water. Head bowed, I walked back into the museum to drown my sorrows a bit with a work that I hadn’t realized was there until a friend messaged me during my visit – Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.

I knew there were copies of The Thinker elsewhere from Paris, where I had seen the famed statue two years ago, but I didn’t know the Met had one. After quickly receiving some directions near the Picasso exhibition, I made my way through the photography and drawing hallway with the expectation of being confronted head on by the massive sculpture that was more than life-sized in Paris.

I looked around, seeing what I knew were other works by Rodin even before reading the display cards, but couldn’t find The Thinker. And then, for whatever reason, I looked up, finding him sitting on a little shelf as though he were a single, lonely bookend without any books. I couldn’t believe how tiny he was, especially in relation to his Parisian cousin, and couldn’t help but chuckle and smirk at it. I looked around, noticing no one else seeing the figure contemplating as they hustled through the museum, and my disappointment at not seeing Washington began to wash away, my mood lightening because I had, in all the chaos of the museum, The Thinker all to myself.

Don’t be mistaken though Mr. President, one day soon, we will meet.

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