Observations: A Day at the Art Institute of Chicago

 

Click, click, click, click. The sound of a worn wooden heel making contact with the parquet floors echoes through the vast space in the Art Institute of Chicago. It is 4:50 p.m. on a Tuesday night, only 10 minutes before the museum closes its doors.

The rooms are vacant with the exception of a man in his mid-forties. He is perched on a bench fully clothed in his winter garb. His hand is flying across the page of his worn moleskin journal in a race to capture the likeness of a Claude Monte. The silence of a space known so well for people visiting the institution feels stagnant.

The guard walks behind the doorway of the room—click, click, click, click. The floorboards creak under the weight of the soles, and it is as if even the bones of the room are giving way.

Between the sporadic outbreaks of footsteps comes the musical humming of the heater. The man must be sitting near a vent because a breeze hits the back of his neck. Strands of hair flit through the air as if being orchestrated by a string.

Click, click, click, click—the wooden heel traverses across the room, but this time the sounds approach the man. The security guard pierces the bubble of silence. “Sir, we are closing now. You’ll have to recreate the masterpiece another day.”

 Caricature of a Man with a Big Cigar, Claude Monet at The Art Institute of Chicago

Caricature of a Man with a Big Cigar, Claude Monet at The Art Institute of Chicago