SUMMER FRIDAY TRAVEL JOURNAL SERIES: Notetaking in Museums and Art Pilgrimages

Have you ever taken a pilgrimage for art? How did you document your trip, if you did at all?

In 1999, fresh from graduating from college, I was lucky enough to go to Europe to spend 3 months looking at art (I spent all my frequent flier miles to get there -- I had a lot, I was an out-of-state student, plus I also think I used some of my mom's miles, thanks mom!).
I spent on average about 8-10 hours a day in museums (honestly), planning my day around what museums opened earliest and which ones closed latest. I often didn't stop for eating (not a good idea -- unless you want to loose a lot of weight fast, which I did; my sister wanted to know if I had an eating disorder when I got home).And everywhere I went I bought postcards. While I was at the museums and galleries, I took copious notes that I transferred onto the backs of the postcards at night. I thought I'd have a little booklet of postcards by the end of the trip. HA! I had 4 enormous binders full (I ditched lots of stuff from my pack as I went along, to make room for my journals, by the end of the trip I was REALLY sick of my 2 shirts).
Anyway, it was a dream trip. I spent days in places like the Prado, the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and countless others. I spent entire hours in front of single paintings (like Guernica).By taking notes, I forced myself to slow down and really look at all sorts of things, color, texture, composition. The notes were silly (and are tedious to look back at), but the act of taking them helped train my eye to look. After all, I had to look for something to write about.I also made a point to never spend longer reading or writing than I spent looking. Looking took precedence. And making a point to spend more time looking also trained me to look. By the end of the trip I took hardly any notes at all. It was like meditation. I would just loose that side of my brain and be a part of the colors and vistas before me.
Because I only had three months, I edited lots of locations from my initial itinerary. I wanted to enjoy the places I did go, and look at ALL the art I wanted to see in each of those places.

My biggest regret from the trip (save for missing things that were closed for renovation -- it seemed that many places were closed for renovation in 1999 -- prep work for 2000?) was that I skipped out on a few amazing art towns in Spain.
Like Toledo, and Bilbao.
While I planned the trip I took to Spain this past February, I swore I would make up for lost time.
It didn't end up working for us to go to Bilbao, But I made my Grandma skip Madrid so we could spend time in Toledo.
Unfortunately when we got to Toledo, quite a few places were closed for renovation (go figure!) but what was open turned out to be the perfect amount to see in the amount of time we had there anyway.
This time I didn't take notes while I looked at the art at all. I just soaked it all in.

P.S. Interesting side note to this post: I took something home other than 4 enormous binders of art postcards from my trip in 1999. I fell in love on that trip. No kidding. My husband and I met in Rome and then again in Venice. And then again in Paris... And then again in Seattle. Bryce was touring around checking out the spring classic bike races (his biggest passion is bike racing). Our first kiss was in front of Claes Oldenburg's Buried Bicycle sculpture in Paris: