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Despite Anxious Times, Museums Offer a “Moment of Zen” on Twitter

While not shared under #MuseumMomentofZen, Gustave Courbet’s “The Calm Sea” (1869), certainly captures its essence (via the Metropolitan Museum/Open Access)

Face it, friends, 2020 is off to a stressful first quarter. Let’s assume you know the reasons why, and skip right to the effort on the part of various cultural institutions to offer their Twitter followers a #MuseumMomentofZen, hopefully breaking up the anxiety of days spent scrolling through newsfeeds that read like harbingers of the end times. After all, when it’s not being politicized, commodified, or appropriated, art can revert to its fundamental purpose: to help us make sense or find hope as we struggle through life on this bewildering and embattled planet.

Things seem to have touched off with this precious moment from the Museum of the City of New York:

Could anything be more peaceful than this lovely vision of turtles? Just remember, it’s turtles all the way down, baby. It’s gonna be okay.

The Chicago History Museum was next to the party, with the teensiest li’l potted plant ever:

Perhaps this calming greenhouse scene will inspire some of us to stop panic-buying toilet paper, and start panic-buying seeds and panic-planting victory gardens, which not only localize your food source and strengthen food sovereignty, but as an action is good for your mental and physical health! Panic gardens, guys!

You know who else felt like his world was falling apart? Abraham Lincoln! At least according to the Lincoln Museum, who joined in with a quiet moment featuring Lincoln presenter Dennis Boggs.

Even if there is little hope that our current president will take inspiration from this moment to lead with dignity during a time of extreme tension, we can all as individuals be reminded that chopping wood is a great way to build a robust physique, offgas stress when the gym is closed, and sharpen your axe skills. Maybe one of us can ride our log-splitting skills all the way to an upset presidential victory.

Other museum moments of zen include this literal reminder from the Rubin Museum of Art to take a few deep breaths and meditate if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

A beautiful bed hanging from the Cranbrook Art Museum reminds us that going back to bed and staying there for a little while is a perfectly viable response to the situation at hand:

And the Rockwell Museum reminds us of the healing power of nature, especially in a time of social distancing:

These are just a few moments among the melee — hopefully, as the days unwind, more people and institutions will join the movement, and continue to inject a little hope, beauty, and inspiration into the stream of panic coverage and information-sharing. Remember, art began in caves, and so its history is twinned with that of humanity. It has carried us through evolution, plague, and modernity. We can and should feel encouraged to rely on its power to do so today!