There is something called the Empty Museum. It is an “installation.” I go and see it. When I walk through the door I expect something grand, but I’m not sure what. The room is dim, rich red wallpaper on the walls and spotlights highlighting where paintings should go. But there’s nothing there. The walls echo the footsteps of people entering the empty museum and exiting the empty museum. Some people turn around and walk out quickly. Some people sit down on the big padded bench in the center of the room. Gallery, I am corrected.
Bach or Beethoven plays softly in the background, but I don’t see any speakers. Where is the music coming from? I contemplate the empty museum. I love it instantly but am not sure why. The bright spheres on the red walls are absence.
I go and stand in the corner beside the doorway and watch people come inside the empty museum. They have to duck under a curtain to do it. As they stand upright and see what they see, what they’ve walked in to, I watch their faces move. Some smile and come forward. Some shake their heads and leave. Some walk quickly to the bench and sit down and look at their phones. A woman enters alone, dressed in orange. In front of her, her iPad is outstretched. She turns in a circle just inside the door with her iPad set to Video Function. She twirls and moves inside. She raises the iPad above her head, walks it close to the wall, pans, and is gone.
I begin to think of the empty museum as a cautionary tale. Without art, this is what we get. This is what happens. This is what is left.